A report on legislative actions from the Session Week of March 18, 2019
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 18, 2019.
If you find this e-newsletter useful, I invite you to visit my website www.senatorscotthutchinson.com for more information about your state government. If you do not wish to receive these e-newsletters, please click the “unsubscribe” button at the bottom of the page. If you would like to contact my office, please go to my website and click the “contact” button. Please do not “reply” directly to this e-mail.
Senate Marks Maple Syrup Producers Week in PA
I am pleased to report that on Monday the Senate adopted Senate Resolution 41, a measure I introduced recognizing the week of March 17 through 23 as Maple Syrup Producers Week in Pennsylvania.
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. The sap that is tapped from the trees is then used in Pennsylvania to make numerous different food products, and most importantly, maple syrup.
Pension Forfeiture Measure Sent to Governor
Legislation ensuring that public employees who commit job-related felonies are stripped of their taxpayer-funded pensions received final legislative approval this week and was sent to the Governor’s desk for enactment into law.
Currently, the Public Employee Pension Forfeiture Act requires pension forfeiture only for certain specific crimes. This allows public employees charged with a forfeiture crime to plead guilty to a different non-forfeiture crime in order to avoid losing their pension.
Senate Bill 113 requires pension forfeiture after a public employee or official is convicted of — or pleads guilty or no contest to — any felony offense related to his or her employment.
The measure closes the “Mellow Loophole,” through which former Senator Bob Mellow of Lackawanna County had his $245,000 a year pension restored despite pleading guilty and being sent to prison on federal conspiracy charges.
Senate Approves Civil Air Patrol Measure
Four bills received final Senate approval this week and were sent to the House of Representatives for consideration, including a measure intended to better secure state funding for the Civil Air Patrol.
Senate Bill 128 codifies the Civil Air Patrol’s state operations in Title 51 under the leadership of the Adjutant General.
The Civil Air Patrol is the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force and has three core missions – Aerospace Education, Cadet Programs, and Emergency Services (Search & Rescue, Disaster Relief, and Counter-Drug Support). The 55 Civil Air Patrol units in Pennsylvania work alongside state police, fire, and other emergency personnel to help save lives.
The other bills approved this week include:
Senate Bill 43, which designates a portion of Route 30 in Westmoreland County, as the J. Edward “Hutch” Hutchinson Memorial Bypass.
Senate Bill 117, which designates a bridge on Route 3016 (Bedford Street) over Solomon Run in the City of Johnstown, Cambria County, as the Seaman Apprentice Kenneth D. Scaife Memorial Bridge.
Senate Bill 190, which conveys property in Somerset Township, Somerset County.
The Senate Appropriations Committee approved 16 bills on Monday.
Senate Bill 128 codifies the Civil Air Patrol’s state operations under the leadership of the Department of Military & Veterans Affairs.
Senate Bill 234 is the General Fund Budget for Fiscal Year 2019-20.
Senate Bill 235 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for the Bureau of Professional & Occupational Affairs.
Senate Bill 236 Workers’ Compensation Act and Pennsylvania Occupation Disease Act funding for Fiscal Year 2019-20.
Senate Bill 237 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for the Office of the Small Business Advocate.
Senate Bill 238 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for the Office of the Consumer Advocate.
Senate Bill 239 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for the Public School Employees’ Retirement Board.
Senate Bill 240 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for the State Employees’ Retirement Board.
Senate Bill 241 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for the Philadelphia Parking Authority.
Senate Bill 242 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.
Senate Bill 243 State Gaming Fund appropriations funding for Fiscal Year 2019-20.
Senate Bill 244 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for Penn State.
Senate Bill 245 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for the University of Pittsburgh.
Senate Bill 246 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for Temple University.
Senate Bill 247 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for Lincoln University.
Senate Bill 248 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for the University of Pennsylvania for veterinary activities and for the Center for Infectious Diseases.
The Senate Education Committee approved five measures on Tuesday.
Senate Resolution 34 establishes a Global Education Task Force.
Senate Bill 89 updates the Public School Code to replace “vocational-technical schools” with “career and technical schools.”
Senate Bill 115 integrates CPR instruction into existing curriculum for grades 9-12.
Senate Bill 144 creates the Keystone Telepresence Education Grant program.
Senate Bill 440 provides for flexible instruction days.
Rules & Executive Nominations
The Senate Rules & Executive Nominations Committee approved Senate Bill 113 on Tuesday. The measure requires pension forfeiture after a public employee or official is convicted of — or pleads guilty or no contest to — any felony offense related to his or her employment.
The Senate State Government Committee approved two bills on Tuesday.
House Bill 18 authorizes the release of Project 70 restrictions on land owned by the Borough of Topton, Berks County, in exchange for the imposition of the restrictions on other land to be acquired by the borough. The bill also provides for land conveyances in Chester, Lehigh and Monroe counties.
Senate Bill 372 updates the state History Code.
Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness
The Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee approved four bills on Tuesday.
Senate Bill 139 amends the Pennsylvania Price Gouging Act to ensure that a Governor’s emergency declaration does not place an undue and unnecessary burden on operations and businesses outside of and unrelated to the disaster.
Senate Bill 146 makes online training more available to current and prospective first responders.
Senate Bill 298 transfers “Stolen Valor” fines to the Pennsylvania Veterans’ Trust Fund.
Senate Bill 439 expands the Pennsylvania Heart and Lung Act to include several law enforcement entities that are not currently protected by this coverage.