Senator Hutchinson E-Newsletter

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Harrisburg Happenings

A report on legislative actions from the Session Week of June 3, 2019

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 June 3, 2019.

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Finance Committee Approves Taxpayer Protection Act

6/5/19 – Consideration of Bills

The Senate Finance Committee, which I chair, approved legislation on Wednesday that would amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to limit the growth of state spending.

Senate Bill 116, also known as the Taxpayer Protection Act, would limit the growth in state spending based on inflation and population growth. The bill would establish spending limits in the Pennsylvania Constitution to prevent lawmakers from breaching or repealing the law with a simple majority vote in the future.

If the state collects revenue that exceeds the amount needed to fund the state budget, then excess revenue could be set aside in the state’s Rainy Day Fund to reduce the need for future tax increases.

The Committee also approved Senate Bill 712, which extends the authority of the State Treasurer to invest funds in the State Treasury according to the prudent person investment standard until 2024.

The bills now go to the full Senate for consideration.

Senate Passes “GI Bill for Families”

The Pennsylvania Senate unanimously passed legislation on Tuesday that would provide free college education to the spouse or child of Pennsylvania National Guard members who re-enlist.

Senate Bill 589 would establish a “Pennsylvania GI Bill for Families” to provide five years’ worth of higher education benefits to the spouse and/or children of a Pennsylvania National Guard member who commits to serve another six years.

This program is aimed at increasing the retention rates in the National Guard and attract transitioning military service members to Pennsylvania. The National Guard Educational Assistance Program provides men and women a free college education – based on the tuition rate at the State System of Higher Education – in exchange for a six-year commitment in the Pennsylvania National Guard.

Since 1996, more than 50,000 Army and Air Guard members – or nearly 2,500 a year – have taken advantage of this program. In return, our Pennsylvania National Guard — the second-largest in the nation at 18,500 members — has remained strong, both at home and abroad. Pennsylvania’s program was the first in the nation and has been replicated across the states.

Senate Approves Criminal Justice Reform Measures

The Senate approved a bipartisan package of criminal justice reforms on Wednesday that will reduce prison and probation costs, better protect crime victims and strengthen public safety.

Senate Bill 500 creates a County Adult Probation and Parole Advisory Committee to help counties better assess the unique risks and needs of probationers to reduce incarceration and cut costs to taxpayers.

Senate Bill 501 streamlines the placement of offenders in drug treatment programs and other intermediate punishment programs, and improve and expedite the parole process for non-violent offenders.

Senate Bill 502 improves communications with crime victims and ensure they receive any compensation they are owed.

The bills build on the success of Justice Reinvestment Initiative measures approved in 2012 to reduce prison costs to taxpayers and reinvest the savings in programs to improve public safety. Over the past six years, the inmate population in state prisons has been reduced by more than 4,000, and the crime rate has decreased by approximately 18 percent, saving $400 million in projected costs to taxpayers.

Senate Passes Bill Classifying Strangulation as Crime of Violence

The Senate passed a measure on Monday that would allow cases of strangulation to be considered in sentencing for subsequent crimes and in child custody proceedings.

The General Assembly approved a law in 2016 that created the criminal offense of strangulation. Senate Bill 275 would fully integrate that offense in Pennsylvania’s laws to ensure strangulation is classified in the same way as other similar violent crimes.

Nearly half of all domestic violence homicide victims had previously experienced at least one episode of attempted strangulation, and 47 percent of female domestic violence victims report being choked.

The measure is supported by the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association, the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration. Four additional bills were approved by the Senate and sent to the House.

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.

House Bill 223 conveys land in Asylum Township, Bradford County, to French Azilum, Inc. The bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.

Senate Bill 538 conveys to the Cumberland Valley Rails-to-Trails Council a permanent easement for land owned by Shippensburg University for a parking lot.

Senate Bill 617 conveys land in the Borough of Lewistown to Mifflin County.

Senate Sends Bill Expanding CPR Training in Schools to Governor

The Senate gave final approval on Tuesday to a bill aimed at saving lives through greater education and training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Senate Bill 115 would strengthen academic guidelines in schools for CPR training in grades nine through 12, while adding hands-only CPR instruction to Pennsylvania’s education curriculum. The bill now goes to the governor for his signature.

This legislation is a top priority of the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association. It is also supported by the Pennsylvania State Education Association, Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Athletic Trainers Society and Independence Blue Cross.

Other bills sent to the Governor this week include:

House Bill 275, which changes the name of the “Early Intervention Program” under the Municipalities Financial Recovery Act to the “Strategic Management Planning Program.”

Senate Bill 441, which designates the State Route 2087 bridge over the East Branch Codorus Creek in York County as the Sgt. Christopher M. Wrinkle and Tosca Memorial Bridge.

Committee Roundup

Aging & Youth

The Senate Aging & Youth Committee approved four bills on Monday.

House Bill 375 eliminates state veterans’ benefits from the definition of “income” for PACE and PACENET eligibility determinations.

Senate Bill 669 reinstates permanent legal custodian and adoption assistance subsidies to children from 18 to 21 years of age.

House Bill 684 excludes the principal and interest accrued from savings bonds in the determination of eligibility for PACE and PACENET.

House Bill 754 provides that PACE and PACENET enrollees will not lose their benefits if they exceed the maximum income limit due solely to a Social Security cost-of-living adjustment.

Agriculture & Rural Affairs

The Senate Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee approved three bills on Tuesday.

House Bill 370 addresses provisions for farmland preservation.

House Bill 404 adds Ailanthus Altissima (commonly known as tree of heaven and favored food of the Spotted Lanternfly) to the Noxious Weed List.

Senate Bill 634 creates a “Conservation Excellence Grant Program” to provide financial and technical assistance to farmers to install and implement best management practices.


The Senate Appropriations Committee approved 10 bills on Monday.

Senate Bill 112 limits prescriptions for a controlled substance containing an opioid to seven days unless there is a medical emergency that puts the patients’ health or safety at risk.

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.

House Bill 318 prohibits telemarketing on legal holidays and provides robocall requirements.

Senate Bill 500 creates a County Adult Probation and Parole Advisory Committee.

Senate Bill 501 streamlines the process for placement in intermediate punishment, allows parole agents to quickly detain parolees for violations, and streamlines the process for paroling people who receive a short sentence to prison.

Senate Bill 502 amends the Crime Victims Act to better provide information and compensation to victims.

Senate Bill 543 provides a rate increase for the River Pilots who navigate trade vessels along the Delaware River and its navigable tributaries.

House Bill 547 amends the First Class Township Code to allow townships to set their annual assessment of the property tax millage rate by resolution.

House Bill 548 amends the Borough Code and the Third Class City Code to enable boroughs and third class cities to assess their annual property tax millage rate by resolution.

Senate Bill 589 creates the Military Family Education Program – or “PA Family GI Bill” – that will allow Guard members to earn educational benefits for their spouse and/or children by committing to a second six-year enlistment.

Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure

The Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure Committee approved five bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 356 provides for professional license portability for military spouses.

Senate Bill 698 amends the Medical Practice Act to let physicians use a designee to input information about written agreements into the Department of State’s new online PALS licensing system.

Senate Bill 699 amends the Osteopathic Practice Act to let physicians use a designee to input information about written agreements into the Department of State’s new online PALS licensing system.

House Bill 1166 increases the fees paid for river pilot services on the Delaware River and Bay beginning in 2020.

House Bill 1172 establishes an endorsement process for boards and commissions under the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs for the issuance of licenses to applicants who are licensed to practice in another state.


The Senate Education Committee approved four bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 462 repeals outdated School Code provisions.

Senate Bill 536 creates the Public Higher Education Commission.

Senate Bill 590 creates the Charter School Funding Advisory Commission.

Senate Bill 700 implements recommendations from the Public School Building Construction and Reconstruction (PlanCon) Advisory Committee.

The Education Committee also approved two bills on Wednesday.

House Bill 800 makes changes to the Educational Improvement Tax Credit and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit programs concerning definitions and limitations.

House Bill 1210 repeals outdated School Code provisions.

Environmental Resources & Energy

The Senate Environmental Resources & Energy Committee approved four bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 108 creates the Pennsylvania Keystone Tree Fund.

Senate Bill 305 declares that a ban implemented by the Delaware River Basin Commission will constitute a taking that must be paid for by the Commission.

Senate Bill 575 creates a nutrient procurement program.

Senate Bill 619 amends the Clean Streams Law to address accidental discharges or spills of substances.

Health & Human Services

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

Senate Bill 314 creates the Pennsylvania Rural Health Redesign Center Authority and the Pennsylvania Rural Health Redesign Center Fund.

Senate Bill 432 allows Medicaid Managed Care Organizations to have access to information in the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.

Senate Bill 454 increases transparency on rates for autism and intellectual disability services.

Senate Bill 569 limits the use of fentanyl to only operating rooms.

Senate Bill 572 requires patients prescribed opioids to enter into treatment agreements with a prescriber to ensure they understand the risks of addiction and dangers of overdose.

Senate Bill 633 provides the Governor with the power to declare public health emergencies.

Senate Bill 675 provides for the licensure of office-based Suboxone prescribers and ensures that patients receive addiction counseling and treatment.

Senate Bill 695 reauthorizes certain provisions of the Human Services Code before they sunset on June 30, 2019.

House Bill 856 reinstates adoption and permanent legal custodian subsidies.


The Senate Judiciary Committee approved three bills on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 93 makes the delivery or distribution of an illicit drug that results in “serious bodily injury” to the user a second-degree felony.

Senate Bill 107 protects employees at non-secure youth shelters against assault and abuse.

Senate Bill 351 provides that an assault against a health care practitioner would be considered an aggravated assault.

Rules & Executive Nominations

The Senate Rules & Executive Nominations Committee approved two bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 115 addresses CPR instruction in grades 9-12.

Senate Bill 703 addresses the promulgation of regulations by joint committees.

State Government

The Senate State Government Committee approved two bills on Wednesday.

House Bill 619 establishes June 19 as “Juneteenth National Freedom Day.”

Senate Bill 701 provides for the conveyance of the former Allentown State Hospital property.

Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness

The Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee approved two bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 223 allows Emergency Medical Services providers to leave a dose of naloxone with a caregiver of a patient who overdosed on opioids.

House Bill 807 requires the compensation of general officers to be commensurate with Federal military base pay.

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