Senator Joe Pittman E-Newsletter

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Harrisburg Happenings

A report on legislative actions from the Session Week of February 3, 2020

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 3, 2020.

If you find this e-newsletter useful, I invite you to visit my website www.senatorpittman.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.

Sincerely,

Joe


Governor Presents his FY 2020-21 Budget Request

2/4/20 – Reaction to Governor’s Budget Address - Too Many Taxes

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.

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.

In many ways, this is like the song that never ends. He recycles the same ideas that have failed over and over again. Yet again, he wants to tax local municipalities for state police service, which they already pay for. Yet again, he wants to levy a severance tax on top of the impact tax that the Marcellus Shale suppliers already pay. He also wants to institute his carbon tax. In some respects he says he wants to save the planet, but in reality if he wants to tax carbon emissions and he wants to tax natural gas, we have to produce it and use it or we are not going to have any money.

This is a long and winding road and we are going to have to see where it goes. Many of his policies I consider to be a direct assault on the hard working men and women that I represent in the 41st District who are proud of the fact that they keep our lights on and our homes warm through the production of our God-given natural resources. The very discussion of these tax policies is chasing away investment and I am afraid that just the talk of it is going to chase away our coal and natural gas producers. Audio

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.

2/4/20 - Reaction to Budget Address - State System of Higher Education

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.

I appreciate the Governor’s acknowledgment of the need to promote higher education and the investment he is proposing for the State System of Higher Education. We have to recognize that our higher education system is in a very competitive situation based on our demographics. It needs to be fundamentally reformed. I think we also need to not lose sight of the career and technology training and the skills that can be made available to our students. They can go into the workforce, get family-sustaining jobs right out of the gate and not be burdened with thousands of dollars of debt in the process. Audio

I am a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which will hold a three-week series of departmental budget hearings beginning on February 18.  The hearings provide an opportunity for us 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.

Local Pastor Serves as Chaplain of the Senate

It was truly a pleasure to visit with Reverend Christopher Massey, of Kinport Assembly of God in Cherry Tree, and his wife Jessica. Reverend Massey served as Chaplain of the Senate on Wednesday.

2/5/20 – Senate Guest Chaplain, Rev. Christopher Massey

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.

Committee Roundup

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).

Finance

The Senate Finance Committee approved House Bill 732 on Wednesday. The bill exempts volunteer first responders from the Pennsylvania realty transfer tax.

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.

Local Government

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. 

Transportation

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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