Senator Hutchinson E-Newsletter

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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 March 19, 2018.

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Senate Marks Maple Syrup Producers Week in PA

3/19/18 - Maple Producers Week

I am pleased to report that on Monday the Senate adopted Senate Resolution 283, a measure I introduced recognizing the week of March 18 through 24 as Maple Syrup Producers Week in Pennsylvania. Audio

Maple producers play a critical role in the Commonwealth by providing jobs and products to Pennsylvania’s economy. This resolution sets aside a week to recognize the important contribution of maple producers to Pennsylvania’s culture and economy.

The maple syrup industry has a rich, long, (and sweet!) history in Pennsylvania.  Native American tribes in North America were the first to have produced maple syrup and maple sugar.  When the Europeans came to America, they learned from the Native Americans how to farm the syrup from the trees and began to harvest it themselves.  Over the next 250 years, this harvesting grew into the important industry that we have today.

Today, the northeast region of the United States is one of the top maple syrup producing regions in the world, and Pennsylvania contributes significantly to this production.  As a Commonwealth, we produced more than 139,000 gallons of maple syrup from over 660,000 taps in 2017.  The sap that is tapped from the trees is then used in Pennsylvania to make numerous different food products, and most importantly, maple syrup. 

Finance Committee approves Three Bills 

The Senate Finance Committee, which I chair, approved three bills on Wednesday including measures to support spouses of military service members killed in action and to establish a sales tax “holiday” for the purchase of emergency preparedness equipment.

Senate Bill 390, introduced by Senator Lisa Baker, amends the state Constitution to extend the state’s property tax exemption program for disabled veterans to the surviving spouse of a soldier killed in action. Currently, the program’s guidelines allow the property tax exemption to be transferred to the surviving spouse of a totally disabled veteran when he or she passes away, but it does not allow the exemption to be given to spouses of those killed in action 

Senate Bill 765, introduced by Senator Randy Vulakovich, would set two sales tax holidays, one week in the spring and one week in the fall, for the purchase of emergency preparedness equipment.  The tax exemption would include items such as generators, shutters and other storm protection devices, fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, and first aid kits. 

House Bill 2017, introduced by Representative Frank Ryan, amends the Tax Reform Code, providing for definitions in corporate net income tax. Specifically, the legislation reverses the provisions of Bulletin 2017-02 to let Pennsylvania businesses take advantage of employment opportunities under the new federal tax law.

The bills now go to the full Senate for consideration.

Senate Approves Bipartisan Crime Victims Package

The Senate approved a package of bills strengthening protections for victims of domestic violence on Wednesday. Six of the bills strengthen and reform Pennsylvania’s domestic violence laws, offer greater protections to victims of domestic violence and their children, and hold abusers accountable.  The seventh bill would establish a crime victims’ bill of rights in the Pennsylvania Constitution to protect and expand the rights of victims of violent crime.

The package includes:

Senate Bill 313, sponsored by Senator Lisa Boscola, which makes it easier for domestic violence victims to remove the name of an abuser from a shared telephone plan.

Senate Bill 449, sponsored by Senator Camera Bartolotta, which allows Magisterial District Judges to use a risk assessment tool when determining bail in domestic violence cases.

Senate Bill 500, sponsored by Sen. Randy Vulakovich, which ensures that law enforcement protection is available to a victim before or while PFA orders are being served.

Senate Bill 501, sponsored by Senator Tom Killion, which requires a domestic violence defendant who is ordered by the court to relinquish firearms to surrender the weapons to law enforcement or a licensed dealer.

 Senate Bill 502, sponsored by Senator Tom McGarrigle, which makes it easier for the court to extend a PFA order when an abuser is released from custody.

Senate Bill 919, sponsored by Senator Art Haywood, which allows domestic violence victims who live in public housing to be relocated to another unit.

Senate Bill 1011, sponsored by Senator Guy Reschenthaler, which amends the state Constitution to creating a crime victims’ “Bill of Rights.”

Senate Bill 449 now goes to the Governor for his signature and enactment into law. The other six bills were sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Two Bills Sent to Governor’s Desk

In addition to Senate Bill 449, two additional bills received final legislative approval and were sent to the Governor for enactment into law.

Senate Bill 135 would permit the use of a leashed tracking dog to track white-tailed deer to recover an animal which has been legally harvested or wounded.

House Bill 1845 designates an Indiana County bridge as the First Lieutenant Theodore P. Pytash Bridge.

Senate Approves Lieutenant Governor Reform Legislation

 The Senate passed bipartisan legislation on Tuesday to reform the way the Lieutenant Governor is elected in Pennsylvania. 

 Senate Bill 761 would amend the state’s constitution to allow gubernatorial candidates to select their running mate subsequent to the primary election, which is a process similar to how presidential candidates currently select their vice presidential running mates.

 The earliest the process could go into effect is 2022, since the Constitution requires that amendments be approved in two consecutive sessions of the General Assembly and then approved by voter referendum.   If the Constitutional amendment is approved, Pennsylvania would join 13 other states that allow gubernatorial candidates to pick a running mate for Lieutenant Governor.

Committee Roundup


The Senate Appropriations Committee approved five bills on Monday.

House Bill 595  specifically provides for the types of complaints that can be filed with the Bureau of Consumer Protection regarding planned communities, cooperatives and condominiums.

Senate Bill 748 establishes notice guidelines regarding the proposed closure of state prisons.

Senate Bill 761 amends the state Constitution to allow gubernatorial candidates to select their Lieutenant Governor running mate.

Senate Bill 1011 amends the state Constitution to create a crime victims’ “Bill of Rights.”

House Bill 1952 addresses a state Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision that impacts Pennsylvania’s sexual offender registration act.

The Appropriations Committee approved two bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 501 addresses the relinquishment of firearms in PFA cases.

Senate Bill 919 allows a tenant of a housing authority unit, who is a victim of domestic or sexual violence, to be relocated to another unit.

Health & Human Services

The Senate Health & Human Services Committee approved four bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 576 defines the difference between an inducement for a patient to participate in a cancer clinical trial and the reimbursement of expenses for participating in a clinical trial.

Senate Bill 1087 establishes a joint commission on the child-welfare system.

House Bill 1233 establishes a new standard for assisted outpatient treatment for seriously mentally ill individuals.

House Bill 1869 establishes a committee to review maternal deaths and develop strategies for the prevention of maternal deaths.


The Senate Judiciary Committee approved 12 bills on Monday.

House Bill 149 provides for the unlawful use of an audio or video recording device in court.

House Bill 324 provides protections for retirement plan benefits due to pension de-risking.

Senate Bill 357 provides for the offense of Aggravated Assault by a Person in Custody if the individual tries to cause another person to come into contact with blood, seminal fluid, saliva, urine or feces by throwing, tossing, spitting or expelling such fluid or material.

Senate Bill 480 addresses animal cruelty in a domestic violence situation.

Senate Bill 501 addresses the relinquishment of firearms in PFA cases.

Senate Bill 502 allows courts to extend an existing PFA order or issue a new order in certain circumstances.

Senate Bill 652 enhances the penalties for those who criminally trespass on “critical infrastructure facilities.”

Senate Bill 915 extends the deadline for filing a post-conviction relief action.

Senate Bill 916 updates the DNA testing law.

Senate Bill 1070 creates a County Adult Probation and Parole Advisory Committee.

Senate Bill 1071 streamlines the process for placement in State Intermediate Punishment.

Senate Bill 1072 revises sentencing laws.

Local Government

The Senate Local Government Committee approved Senate Bill 1005 on Tuesday. The bill makes numerous changes to the County Code. 

Rules & Executive Nominations

The Senate Rules & Executive Nominations Committee approved House amendments to Senate Bill 449 on Tuesday. The bill would allow Magisterial District Judges to use a risk assessment tool when determining bail in domestic violence cases.

Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness

The Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee approved four measures on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 239 amends the state Constitution to allow for an expansion of the Property Tax Exemption Program for Disabled Veterans.

Senate Resolution 260 extends the term of the Senate Resolution 6 Commission from June 30 to November 30, 2018.

Senate Bill 1021 provides a limited-time opportunity for certain amputee or paralyzed veterans to apply for the state’s Amputee and Paralyzed Veterans’ Pension.

Senate Bill 1041 directs the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to create logos to promote veteran-owned and disabled veteran-owned businesses.

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