Senator Joe Pittman 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 November 18, 2019.

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


Moving to Require Legislative Role Regarding RGGI, Carbon Tax

11/19/19 – Governor’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) Plan

On Tuesday, I co-hosted a press conference in Harrisburg with my friend Representative Jim Struzzi to discuss the bills we introduced this week addressing Governor Wolf’s proposal to have Pennsylvania enter into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

On October 3, Governor Wolf directed the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to join RGGI, a collaboration of nine Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states. The states set a cap on total Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions from electric power generators in their states. In order to comply, power plants must purchase a credit or “allowance” for each ton of CO2 they emit. The most recent RGGI auction (September 4) resulted in a “Carbon Tax” of $5.20 per ton.

My bill (Senate Bill 950) and Representative Struzzi’s bill (House Bill 2025) focus on three main points:

  • Declares the legislature does not believe the Governor has the ability to unilaterally enter RGGI.
  • Codifies a process that allows the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to move forward with RGGI, which includes a public comment period, public hearings, and requires the DEP to submit their proposal to the General Assembly.
  • Requires legislative approval before the DEP can formally enter RGGI.

The RGGI could have severe consequences in the state beyond impacting the viability of Pennsylvania’s 19 coal-fired electric generating units (EGU) – nearly one-quarter of the Commonwealth’s total electric generation capacity.

If they were forced out of business the burden of a carbon tax on power generation would be paid entirely by Pennsylvania’s natural gas-fired EGUs. That would likely make them less competitive with comparable plants in neighboring states and as such drive investment in natural gas electric generation to other states.

Our legislation is as much about separation of powers as it is about climate policy.  One of the key components of RGGI is a tax on carbon emissions.  The power to tax is a function of the legislative branch, not the executive branch.

Regardless of anyone’s position on climate policy, it is a dangerous precedent to assume the Governor can unilaterally impose a tax. A carbon tax is a major energy and fiscal policy initiative. Beyond the fiscal impact on Pennsylvania manufacturers, coal and gas electric generation, consumers, and future economic investments made in our state, it also creates serious constitutional questions of checks and balances between the co-equal branches of government.

Click for audio of my comments at Tuesday’s press conference. Click here to view the entire press conference.

Bill Honoring Senator Don White Sent to the Governor

I am especially pleased to report that the Senate approved and sent to the Governor for enactment into law a bill introduced by Representative Jeff Pyle honoring my predecessor and former boss, Senator Don White.

House Bill 1547, which was amended to rename several roads and bridges, was initially introduced by Representative Pyle to formally designate the interchange of U.S. Route 422 with Pennsylvania Route 66 in Manor Township, Armstrong County, as the “Senator Donald C. White Interchange.”

Senate Honors Our Homegrown Miss Pennsylvania

11/18/19 – Introduction of Miss Pennsylvania, Tiffany Seitz

On Tuesday, I had the pleasure of introducing Miss Pennsylvania 2019 Tiffany Seitz to the Senate.

Tiffany is a resident of Freeport and a graduate of Grove City College, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Entrepreneurship and a minor in Communications. 

She spoke to us on adoption advocacy, a platform that is near and dear to her heart.  Tiffany was born addicted to cocaine and not expected to survive.  After residing in foster care, she was eventually adopted by a loving family who helped her grow into the accomplished woman she is today. 

As Miss Pennsylvania, Tiffany is passionate about educating the public about fostering and adoption, and, ultimately, helping children to find forever homes.  Tiffany is currently serving as the goodwill ambassador for all five Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals in Pennsylvania, and is excited to compete at the Miss America Competition in Connecticut on December 19.

National SkillsUSA Gold medalist Visits the Capitol

I was pleased to meet with Jakob Dixon and his family and friends during their visit to the Capitol on Tuesday.  Jakob won a gold medal at the National SkillsUSA Leadership & Skills Conference in June.  He was accompanied by his parents, Eric and Andrea Dixon; his sister, Ericka Dixon; his grandparents, Lanny and Billie Dixon and Joel and Beverley Lamantia; an aunt, Lani Sheesley; and Mike Worthington, Principal at ICTC and Mike McDermott, Director at ICTC.

Bill Expanding Job Training Opportunities Sent to Governor

A bill that will expand the availability of job training programs and make it easier for students to receive financial aid received final legislative approval on Monday and was sent to the Governor for enactment into law.

Senate Bill 456 allows career and technical colleges and trade schools to open a branch campus in neighboring counties or any other location within 60 miles of their main campus. Currently, those schools can only establish a branch campus in the same county as the primary campus without securing another independent license for an out-of-county location. Senate Bill 456 also gives those schools the ability to provide direct institutional grants to students.

Sunday Hunting Bill Headed to Governor’s Desk

Legislation allowing hunting on three Sundays received final legislative approval on Monday and was sent to the Governor’s desk. Senate Bill 147 provides for hunting on three Sundays: one during rifle deer season, one during the statewide archery deer season and one on a Sunday determined by the Game Commission. The bill also provides that written permission of the landowner is required to hunt on private property on any of the Sundays being added to the expanded Sunday hunting provisions.

Senate Passes Bill Prohibiting Abortions Based on Down Syndrome Diagnosis

The Senate approved a bill on Wednesday prohibiting the abortion of babies based solely on a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome. Similar protections already exist to prevent babies from being aborted based solely on their gender. The bill does not interfere with the existing ability of a woman to obtain an abortion in cases of rape, incest or endangerment to the mother. House Bill 321 was vetoed by the Governor on Thursday.

Measure Providing for Online Firefighter Training Receives Final Approval

A measure that will make firefighter training more accessible and affordable through online courses was sent to the Governor on Monday. Senate Bill 146 ensures that online training would be voluntary and free to both career and volunteer firefighters. All available courses would be listed online, and developed under the leadership of the state Fire Commissioner.

Other bills sent to the Governor this week include:

House Bill 17, which establishes a 10-year time period for the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue to collect assessed personal income taxes.

House Bill 49, which requires public schools to allow students to apply personal finance credits towards satisfying graduation requirements. It also clarifies the role of school police officers and extends the training deadline for school security personnel.

House Bill 57, which disbands various outdated boards, commissions, committees and other entities.

House Bill 97, which prohibits the sale, purchase or use of nicotine products or nicotine delivery systems by minors or pupils in schools.

House Bill 227, which clarifies that school director candidates will be required to submit 10 signatures for nomination.

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

Senate Bill 317, which amends the Second Class Township Code regarding mandatory annual budget requirements. 

Senate Bill 572, which establishes a procedure for prescribers to enter into treatment agreements with a patient prior to prescribing an opioid treatment course for chronic pain.

Senate Bill 733, which provides for the Pennsylvania Gaming Economic Development and Tourism Fund Capital Budget for 2019.

House Bill 754, which ensures 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.

House Bill 917, which repeals Act 598 of 1929, an act authorizing municipalities, other than townships, to acquire, operate and maintain a hospital.

House Bill 947, which sets the hours of operation for breweries, distilleries and limited distilleries.

House Bill 956, which amends the State Lottery Law to lower the mandated margin rate of return from 25 percent to 20 percent for the five-year period beginning June 30, 2019 and ending on June 30, 2024.

House Bill 1203, which requires that the annual audit of an authority must comply with state and federal standards and allows the incorporating municipality to request assistance from the Auditor General.

House Bill 1402, which amends the Crimes Code to add a new offense of sexual extortion.

House Bill 1772, which allows a property owner to use identifying purple paint marks on trees or posts to provide notice not to trespass on the property.

House Bill 1896, which authorizes the release of a use restriction and reversionary interest affecting land in East Vincent Township, Chester County, conveys property in Centre County and addresses an easement in Chester County.

House Bill 1982 allows participating employers in SERS to pre-fund all or a portion of their “unfunded actuarial liability.” 

Senate Approves New Protections for Sexual Abuse Survivors

The Senate approved a package of bills this week to support survivors of sexual abuse. The package addresses the recommendations of a grand jury investigation that was released last year. The bills include:

House Bill 962, which would eliminate the criminal statute of limitations for the sexual abuse of a child, as well as associated crimes such as human trafficking. The bill also extends the deadline for civil actions from age 30 to age 55.

House Bill 963, which would amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to create a two-year window for retroactive lawsuits from victims whose statute of limitations has already expired. The legislation addresses concerns lawmakers raised last year about whether the two-year window was unconstitutional.

House Bill 1051, which clarifies mandatory reporting standards for suspected cases of abuse and increases penalties for mandated reporters who continue to fail to report suspected child abuse.

House Bill 1171, which ensures survivors who sign non-disclosure statements are not prohibited from speaking with law enforcement regarding their abuse.

Senate Approves Bill to Improve Research, Treatment of Pediatric Cancer

Pediatric cancer research hospitals could benefit from up to $100 million in new private donations under a bill approved by the Senate on Tuesday. Senate Bill 74 would create a tax credit program for qualifying donations made to a Pennsylvania pediatric cancer research hospital. Credits would be limited to $10 million per year over the next 10 years. According to the American Cancer Society, more children die from cancer than any other disease. However, the National Cancer Institute spends just 4 percent of its research dollars on pediatric cancer.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration. Other bills sent to the House this week include:

Senate Bill 60, which addresses human trafficking.

Senate Bill 67, which addresses the adoption of the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact to allow for tele-psychological practice across state lines and temporary in-person services.

Senate Bill 327, which requires executive, independent and state-affiliated agencies to report their space usage to the Department of General Services on an annual basis.

Senate Bill 596, which establishes the Pennsylvania Clean Transportation Infrastructure Act.

Senate Bill 637, which creates a set of rules for consideration of criminal records in occupational licensure.

Senate Bill 842, which will allow for the omission of health care workers’ last names from their identification badges.

Senate Bill 902, which amends the County Code to clarify succession for a First Assistant District Attorney upon a vacancy of the office of District Attorney in Fourth through Eighth Class counties.

Senate Bill 906, which institutes a moratorium on the closing of the Polk and White Haven State Centers.

House Bill 1542, which addresses special occasion liquor permits. The bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.

Committee Roundup

Aging & Youth

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

Senate Bill 368 mandates real-time reporting of infants born with an opioid addiction and high susceptibility of withdrawal conditions.

House Bill 1051 increases the offense of willfully failing to report suspected child abuse by a mandated reporter when it is a “continuing course of action” from a first-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony.

Appropriations

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved seven bills on Monday.

House Bill 17 establishes a 10-year time period for the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue to collect assessed personal income taxes.

Senate Bill 74 allows companies to apply for a tax credit after making an eligible donation to a Pennsylvania pediatric cancer research hospital. 

Senate Bill 596 establishes the Pennsylvania Clean Transportation Infrastructure Act.

Senate Bill 842 allows the omission of health care workers’ last names from identification badges.

Senate Bill 850 establishes the Community Integrated Schools for Success pilot program.

House Bill 956 amends the State Lottery Law to lower the margin rate of return from 25 percent to 20 percent for a five-year period beginning June 30, 2019 and ending on June 30, 2024.

House Bill 1203 requires that the annual audit of an authority must comply with state and federal standards and allows the incorporating municipality to request assistance from the Auditor General.

The Appropriations Committee approved eight bills on Tuesday.

House Bill 17 establishes a 10-year time period for the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue to collect assessed personal income taxes.

Senate Bill 60 addresses human trafficking.

Senate Bill 79 incrementally increases the minimum wage.

House Bill 97 prohibits the sale, purchase or use of nicotine products or nicotine delivery systems by minors or pupils in schools.

Senate Bill 637 creates a set of rules for consideration of criminal records for occupational licensure.

House Bill 962 eliminates the criminal statute of limitations for the sexual abuse of a child, as well as associated crimes such as human trafficking. The bill also extends the deadline for civil actions from age 30 to age 55.

House Bill 963 amends the Pennsylvania Constitution to create a two-year window for retroactive lawsuits from victims whose statute of limitations has already expired.

House Bill 1051 increases the offense of willfully failing to report suspected child abuse by a mandated reporter when it is a “continuing course of action” from a first-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony.

The Appropriations Committee approved three bills on Wednesday.

House Bill 355 amends the Public School Code regarding ethics and transparency requirements for charter schools.

House Bill 1542 addresses special occasion liquor permits.

House Bill 1982 allows participating employers in SERS to pre-fund all or a portion of their “unfunded actuarial liability.”

Banking & Insurance

The Senate Banking & Insurance Committee approved two bills on Tuesday.

House Bill 427 provides health insurance coverage requirements for stage four, advanced metastatic cancer.

Senate Bill 595 provides insurance coverage for breast density screenings.

Communications & Technology

The Senate Communications & Technology Committee approved Senate Bill 810 on Tuesday. The bill consolidates the administration and management of the Commonwealth’s information technology under the Office of Information Technology.

Community, Economic & Recreational Development

The Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee approved House Bill 1045 on Tuesday. The bill requires the Commonwealth Financing Authority board to meet the second Tuesday of every other month, beginning with January, rather than at the call of the chairperson.

Education

The Senate Education Committee approved House Bill 355 on Tuesday. The bill amends the Public School Code regarding ethics and transparency requirements for charter schools.

Environmental Resources & Energy

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

House Bill 476 amends the Solid Waste Management Act to require the Department of Environmental Protection to notify municipalities when certain violations occur.

Senate Bill 679 directs the Environmental Quality Board to develop regulations that authorize counties to adopt a program for stream cleaning and maintenance and the removal of obstructions and flood-related hazards from local waterways.

Senate Bill 766 updates the state’s household hazardous waste collection program. 

Finance

The Senate Finance Committee approved two bills on Tuesday.

House Bill 1100 establishes the Energy and Fertilizer Manufacturing Tax Credit program.

House Bill 1982 allows participating employers in SERS to pre-fund all or a portion of their “unfunded actuarial liability.”

Game & Fisheries

The Senate Game & Fisheries Committee approved House Bill 1772 on Tuesday. The bill allows a property owner to use identifying purple paint marks on trees or posts to provide notice not to trespass on the property.

The Game & Fisheries Committee approved four bills on Wednesday.

House Bill 102 provides for expanded availability of hunter education courses in public schools.

Senate Bill 377 increases the fine and the penalty for killing or unlawfully taking a bald or golden eagle.

House Bill 584 provides an exemption from fishing license requirements for therapeutic recreation programs.

House Bill 617 provides for a discounted hunting license for volunteer Hunter Trapper Education instructors.

Health & Human Services

The Senate Health & Human Services Committee approved five bills on Monday.

House Bill 321 prohibits an abortion based solely on a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome.

Senate Bill 606 provides for the authority to prescribe or personally furnish antibiotics to treat sexually transmitted infections.

House Bill 1001 establishes standards for licensure and regulation of (human) milk banks.

House Bill 1058 establishes the Compassion and Care for Medically Challenging Pregnancies Act.

House Bill 1662 amends the Methadone Death and Incident Review Act to include deaths and incidents attributable to any medication approved for the treatment of opioid use disorder and renames it the Medication Death and Incident Review Act.

Judiciary

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved five bills on Monday.

House Bill 97 prohibits the sale, purchase or use of nicotine products or nicotine delivery systems by minors or pupils in schools.

Senate Bill 809 establishes a Legislative Conduct Review Board.

House Bill 962 eliminates the criminal statute of limitations for the sexual abuse of a child, as well as associated crimes such as human trafficking. The bill also extends the deadline for civil actions from age 30 to age 55.

House Bill 963 amends the Pennsylvania Constitution to create a two-year window for retroactive lawsuits from victims whose statute of limitations has already expired.

House Bill 1171 ensures survivors who sign non-disclosure statements are not prohibited from speaking with law enforcement regarding their abuse.

Law & Justice

The Senate Law & Justice Committee approved House Bill 1542 on Monday. The bill addresses special occasion liquor permits.

Labor & Industry

The Senate Labor & Industry Committee approved three bills on Monday.

Senate Bill 79 incrementally increases the minimum wage.

House Bill 422 creates an “on-the-job” trainee classification for each building code official certification.

Senate Bill 594 requires employers who have a certified safety committee as part of their workers’ compensation program to include information about the risks associated with the use of opioids.

Rules & Executive Nominations

The Senate Rules & Executive Nominations Committee approved three bills on Monday.

Senate Bill 146 makes online training more available to current and prospective first responders. 

Senate Bill 147 empowers the Pennsylvania Game Committee to allow hunting on three Sundays.

Senate Bill 456 allows private licensed schools to create branch campuses in counties outside the county that houses the primary site.

The Rules & Executive Nominations Committee approved three bills on Thursday.

House Bill 49 requires public schools to allow students to apply personal finance credits towards satisfying graduation requirements. It also clarifies the role of school police officers and extends the training deadline for school security personnel.

Senate Bill 473 increases the minimum legal sales age for tobacco products to 21 years of age.

Senate Bill 572 establishes a procedure for prescribers to enter into treatment agreements with a patient prior to prescribing an opioid treatment course for chronic pain. 

State Government

The Senate State Government Committee approved four measures on Monday.

Senate Resolution 179 urges Congress to make daylight savings time permanent in the United States.

Senate Bill 417 requires successful write-in candidates receive at least the same number of votes as would be required to file nomination petitions.

Senate Bill 779 moves Pennsylvania’s Presidential primary election day to the third Tuesday of March.

House Bill 1896 authorizes the release of a use restriction and reversionary interest affecting land in East Vincent Township, Chester County.

Transportation

The Senate Transportation Committee approved Senate Bill 954 on Tuesday. The bill reinstates the requirement for registration stickers on license plates.

The Transportation Committee approved Senate Bill 773 on Thursday. The bill increases penalties for those who have multiple DUI convictions and targets offenders who repeatedly drive drunk with high Blood Alcohol Content levels in their systems.

Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness

The Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee approved five bills on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 276 increases the monthly pension amounts for the Blind Veterans Pension Program and the Amputee and Paralyzed Veterans Pension Program.

House Bill 630 provides employment protections to Pennsylvania residents who are members of a National Guard or Reserve unit in another state.

Senate Bill 952 amends the Veterans Preference Law.

Senate Bill 957 directs the Department of Military & Veterans Affairs to create logos to promote veteran-owned businesses.

House Bill 1050 guarantees in-state tuition rates for reassigned military families.

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