Senator Hutchinson E-Newsletter

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Harrisburg Happenings

Dear Friend,

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 4, 2019.

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Senate Ready to Review Governor’s FY 2019-20 Budget Request

2/5/19 - Response to Governor's Budget Address

The Senate will carefully study the $34.1 billion state General Fund budget for Fiscal Year 2019-20 unveiled by Governor Tom Wolf on Tuesday before a joint session of the General Assembly.

The Governor’s budget proposal includes a $927.3 million (2.8 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 and a fee for municipalities that rely on the State Police for local police coverage.

The Governor is requesting a $166 million increase in Basic Education Funding ($6.53 billion); a $50 million increase for early childhood education (Pre-K Counts, $232.2 million and Head Start, $69.1 million); and a $50 million increase in special education funding ($1.19 billion).

The State System of Higher Education would see a $7 million increase ($475.1 million), while state funding for community colleges and state-related universities is flat lined in the Governor’s request.

The Senate Appropriations Committee will hold a three-week series of Departmental Budget Hearings beginning on February 19.  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. 

Senate Acts to Strengthen Public Employee Pension Forfeiture Act

A measure that would strip taxpayer-funded pensions from public employees who commit job-related felonies was approved on Monday by the Senate.

Senate Bill 113 closes the “Mellow Loophole,” named after former Senator Bob Mellow of Lackawanna County, who in 2017 had his $245,000-a-year pension restored despite pleading guilty and being sent to prison on federal conspiracy charges.

The bill would require pension forfeiture if a public employee or public official is convicted, pleads guilty, or pleads no contest to any felony offense related to his or her employment. The Public Employee Pension Forfeiture Act currently only requires pension forfeiture for certain crimes. Therefore, lawmakers and other public employees will plead guilty to a non-forfeiture crime in order to avoid losing their pensions.

The legislation also ensures that criminal convictions involving public officials are reported to state pension boards, which is not currently required.

SB 113 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

The Senate approved three other measures this week.

Senate Resolution 20 urges the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to delay action on its proposed change to Rule 1006 regarding venue in medical professional liability actions.

Senate Bill 26 releases Project 70 restrictions on lands owned by the Borough of Topton, Berks County, in exchange for the imposition of the restrictions on other lands to be acquired by the borough.

Senate Bill 130 releases a use restriction and reversionary interest affecting a property located partly in the Township of Mahoning and partly in the Borough of Danville in Montour County. 

Committee Roundup

Agriculture & Rural Affairs

The Senate Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee approved two bills on Monday.

Senate Bill 85 provides for license fee exemptions for service dogs used by a fire department, sheriff’s office or in the performance of rescue services or medical emergency services. Currently, the fee exemption exists only for any municipal or State police department or agency.

Senate Bill 145 amends the Agricultural Area Security Law to allow for the voluntary relinquishment of the right to construct a residence.

Game & Fisheries

The Senate Game & Fisheries Committee approved Senate Bill 147 on Tuesday. The measure empowers the Pennsylvania Game Commission to allow Sunday hunting.


The Senate Judiciary Committee approved three measures on Monday.

Senate Resolution 20 urges the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to delay action on its proposed change to Rule 1006 regarding venue in medical professional liability actions.

Senate Bill 49 extends “Good Samaritan” civil liability to a person who — in an effort to save a child — breaks a window or forcibly enters a parked, locked vehicle.

Senate Bill 86 amends the Newborn Protection Act to add urgent care centers to the list of “safe havens” where a parent may surrender a newborn.

State Government

The Senate State Government Committee approved two bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 133 amends the State Constitution to allow gubernatorial candidates to select their own running mate.

Senate Bill 190 conveys a property in Somerset Township, Somerset County.


The Senate Transportation Committee approved three bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 43 designates a portion of U.S. Route 30 in Westmoreland County, as the J. Edward “Hutch” Hutchinson Memorial Bypass.

Senate Bill 62 reduce the percentage of service-connected disability required for a veteran to qualify for a severely disabled veteran license plate from 100 percent disability to at least a 75 percent disability.

Senate Bill 117 designates a bridge on State Route 3016 (Bedford Street) over Solomon Run in the City of Johnstown, Cambria County, as the Seaman Apprentice Kenneth D. Scaife Memorial Bridge.

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