A report on legislative actions from the Session Week of February 3, 2020
I am pleased to send you my Session Wrap Up e-newsletter. This e-newsletter features events and legislative activities from the Session Week of February 3, 2020.
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Governor Presents his FY 2020-21 Budget Request
The Governor unveiled his proposed $36.1 billion state General Fund budget for Fiscal Year 2020-21 on Tuesday during a joint session of the General Assembly.
Although we’ve been able to constrain state spending the last several years, and revenue growth has also been healthy, the Governor announced today that he is on track to spend $800 million more than we approved last June. I am concerned about this continual cycle of supplemental spending. And, I am very wary of his request for an additional $5 billion plus in more borrowing. We have a lot of work to do as we work through the upcoming months of the budget scrutiny. Audio
The Governor’s budget proposal includes a $1.5 billion (4.2 percent) increase in state spending from the current fiscal year. The Governor is not requesting a broad-based tax increase this year, but is continuing to push for a Marcellus Shale extraction tax, a $1 per-ton increase in the tipping fee charged to trash companies, and a fee for all municipalities for State Police services.
The Governor is requesting a $100 million increase in Basic Education Funding to $6.4 billion, a $30 million increase for early childhood education (Pre-K Counts to $242.3 million and Head Start to $69.2 million), and a $25 million increase in special education funding to $1.2 billion.
The State System of Higher Education would see a $13 million increase to $490 million, while state funding for community colleges and state-related universities is flat-funded in the Governor’s request.
The Senate Appropriations Committee will hold a three-week series of departmental budget hearings beginning on February 18. The hearings provide an opportunity for the Appropriations Committee to hear cabinet secretaries and other Administration officials detail their plans for the upcoming fiscal year. The state’s current fiscal year ends on June 30.
Committee Approves Tax Break Measure for Volunteer First Responders
The Senate Finance Committee, which I chair, approved House Bill 732 on Wednesday. The bill exempts volunteer first responders from the Pennsylvania realty transfer tax.
Bill Increasing Prescription Drug Oversight Sent to Governor
Legislation improving the oversight of prescriptions to reduce the risk of opioid abuse received final legislative approval this week and was sent to the Governor.
Under Senate Bill 432, Medicaid Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) would have access to the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP). The PDMP was created in 2014 in an effort to provide greater monitoring over prescription drugs and potential abuse. Allowing the MCOs to query the PDMP will provide greater collaboration and data when it comes to prescription drug abuse and misuse. The bill includes a provision that requires an MCO to notify the Attorney General and the Department of Human Services if it is believed that a controlled substance was prescribed or dispensed fraudulently.
Two additional bills were sent to the Governor this week.
House Bill 330 amends the Taxpayer Relief Act making editorial changes to incorrect references.
House Bill 1578 amends Title 68 regarding the Uniform Condominium Act, the Real Estate Cooperative Act and the Uniform Planned Community Act to make technical changes and clarifications.
Senate Approves Workers’ Comp Bill for First Responders
Critical members of volunteer fire companies, ambulance corps and rescue squads who are injured in the line of duty would qualify for workers’ compensation coverage under a bill approved Monday by the Senate.
Senate Bill 94 would ensure coverage for all active volunteers and integral members of a volunteer fire, ambulance or rescue company insured through the State Workers Insurance Fund (SWIF). The legislation would apply to 1,550 volunteer fire companies and 92 ambulance organizations that are insured by SWIF.
The bill would only apply to active volunteers. Social members would not be included. The legislation is part of a broader focus by lawmakers on the challenges facing fire and EMS companies throughout the state. Senate Bill 94 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration. Other bills sent to the House this week include:
Senate Bill 309, which creates First-time Homebuyers Savings Accounts.
Senate Bill 640, which authorizes the Commonwealth to join the interstate Physical Therapist Compact.
Senate Bill 850, which establishes the Community Integrated Schools for Success pilot program.
House Bill 1001, which establishes standards for the licensure and regulation of human milk banks. The bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.
House Bill 1100, which establishes the Energy and Fertilizer Manufacturing Tax Credit program. The bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.
Agriculture & Rural Affairs
The Senate Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee approved Senate Bill 915 on Tuesday. The bill amends the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes to set clear standards for the application of fertilizer to turf and provide for labels and labeling and the disposition of funds.
Community, Economic & Recreational Development
The Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee approved Senate Bill 863 on Wednesday. The bill defines “recreational campgrounds” under Title 48 (Lodging and Housing) in order to provide campground owners with certain rights, similar to the rights of hotelkeepers, and help protect their businesses.
Environmental Resources & Energy
The Senate Environmental Resources & Energy Committee approved two bills on Wednesday.
House Bill 342 would authorize the City of Philadelphia to impose a fine or penalty of no more than $500 per-tire for the improper disposal of waste tires.
Senate Bill 1030 amends the Pennsylvania Sewage Facilities Act (Act 537).
Game & Fisheries
The Senate Game & Fisheries Committee approved House Bill 752 on Wednesday. The bill removes the current price per acre restriction on Game Fund money used for the purchase of land to be used as game lands in a Second Class County.
Health & Human Services
The Senate Health & Human Services Committee approved Senate Bill 934 on Wednesday. The bill requires the Department of Human Services to include the inspection of all smoke detectors in their annual inspection of child care facilities.
Labor & Industry
The Senate Labor & Industry Committee approved Senate Bill 935 on Wednesday. The bill amends the Fire and Panic Act regarding smoke detectors.
The Senate Local Government Committee approved three bills on Wednesday.
Senate Bill 207 closes a loophole in the Public Works Contractors’ Bond Law.
Senate Bill 958 amends the Borough Code to state that all electric energy supplied to borough electric systems for sale within borough limits is exempt from the imposition of Pennsylvania’s Gross Receipts Tax.
House Bill 1751 amends Title 8 (Boroughs and Incorporated Towns) and Title 11 (Cities) to provide for reimbursement of newly elected officers prior to officially taking office to attend any conference, institute, school or convention dealing with the duties and functions of their office.
Rules & Executive Nominations
The Senate Rules & Executive Nominations Committee approved House amendments to Senate Bill 432 on Monday. The bill allows Medicaid Managed Care Organizations to have access to information in the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.
The Rules & Executive Nominations Committee approved eight Resolutions on Wednesday.
Senate Resolution 300 designates February 22 – 29, 2020, as “FFA Week” in Pennsylvania.
Senate Resolution 301 recognizes February 15, 2020, as “International Childhood Cancer Day” in Pennsylvania.
Senate Resolution 302 designates March 2020 as “Disabilities Awareness Month” in Pennsylvania
Senate Resolution 303 observes March 1, 2020, as “St. David’s Day” in Pennsylvania and honors Pennsylvanians of Welsh heritage.
Senate Resolution 304 designates February 9 – 15, 2020, as “Cardiac Rehabilitation Week” in Pennsylvania.
Senate Resolution 305 designates February 7 – February 14, 2020, as “Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week” and February 14, 2020, as “Emersyn’s Day” in Pennsylvania.
Senate Resolution 306 designates February 21, 2020, as “Keith Valley Challenge Day” in Pennsylvania.
Senate Resolution 308 recognizes February 2 – 8, 2020, as “National Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lambda Week” in Pennsylvania.
The Senate Transportation Committee approved three bills on Wednesday.
Senate Bill 565 requires vehicles parking along a curbside bike lane to park parallel with their right-hand or left-hand wheels within 12 inches of the outside line of the buffer area between the bike lane and parking in the direction of traffic flow.
Senate Bill 995 increases the width of multipurpose agricultural vehicles that are allowed on public roadways.
House Bill 1907 designates a bridge over U.S. Route 11/15 in East Pennsboro Township, Cumberland County, as the Senator Hal Mowery Memorial Bridge.
Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness
The Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee approved Senate Resolution 291 on Wednesday. The resolution recognizes Pennsylvania’s contribution to Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
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