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 8, 2020.
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Senate Votes to End Disaster Resolution, Implement Legislative Oversight
Stressing that Governor Wolf’s extended lockdown of Pennsylvania hurt families and did irreparable harm to employers, the Senate this week voted to end the statewide shutdown and provide for greater legislative oversight in the future.
On Tuesday, the Senate approved House Resolution 836, which terminates the Governor’s executive order that was issued on March 6 and renewed on June 3. The Governor used the emergency declaration to change and suspend state laws and spend state and federal taxpayer dollars without the approval of the General Assembly.
On Wednesday, the Senate approved Senate Bill 1166, which would amend the state Constitution to require legislative approval of future emergency disaster proclamations beyond 30 days.
UA&H Committee Approves Four Bills
The Senate Urban Affairs & Housing Committee approved four bills on Tuesday as I presided over my first meeting as the Committee Chairman. The bills approved at the meeting include:
Senate Bill 940 amends the Municipal Code and Ordinance Compliance Act to define a condemnation order and specifies that it shall be filed against a property and filed with the county tax claim bureau and recorder of deeds.
House Bill 986 adds “homeless housing assistance” to the definition of community services under the Neighborhood Assistance Tax Credit program.
Senate Bill 1045 removes the sunset provision for the County Demolition Funding Program.
House Bill 1860 amends the Urban Redevelopment Law to allow municipalities of any population and type to create a redevelopment authority.
The bills now move to the full Senate for consideration.
Bill Mandating Review of 2020 Primary Sent to Governor
Legislation mandating an extensive review of the 2020 Primary Election received final legislative approval this week and was sent to the Governor’s desk.
House Bill 2502, which would help ensure election integrity under Pennsylvania’s new election laws, was approved by the Senate on Wednesday and by the House of Representatives on May 19. The bill directs the Department of State to issue a detailed report on the election to the State Government Committees of the House and Senate and post the information on its webpage.
The report would include data from each county, such as the number of applications for an absentee ballot that were approved and received; the number of applications for a mail-in ballot that were approved and received; the number of mail-in and absentee ballots that were voted by electors; and, the number of qualified electors voting by a provisional ballot.
Senate Passes Three Bills for Veterans
Legislation to streamline the verification process for a “Veteran” designation on driver’s licenses was approved by the Senate on Monday. The “Veteran” designation was established by Act 176 of 2012.
Senate Bill 927 would require PENNDOT to independently validate documentation provided by veterans and immediately issue the driver’s license with the designation. Currently, PENNDOT submits the application to the Department of Military & Veterans Affairs for verification.
Veterans must produce a DD Form 214, retired military ID, a Federal VA Medical ID card, or other acceptable discharge documents to be eligible for the designation.
Also on Monday, the Senate passed Senate Bill 276, which increases monthly payments by the Blind Veterans Pension Program and the Amputee and Paralyzed Veterans Pension Program from $150 to $180. The programs serve more than 2,000 veterans who suffered service-connected injuries or diseases that resulted in loss of vision, paralysis, or the loss of two or more extremities. The payments were last increased in 1999.
On Tuesday, the Senate approved Senate Bill 952, which makes several changes to the Veterans Preference Law, such as clarifying the transfer of the Veterans Preference to spouses and allowing those transitioning from military service or in the Reserves or National Guard to receive the Veterans Preference.
The bills now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Bill Addresses Dangerous Dogs
The Senate passed legislation on Monday to better protect the public from dogs that have severely injured a person or a domestic animal.
Currently, a victim, the state dog warden or a police officer may file a complaint with a magisterial district judge charging a dog owner with the summary offense of harboring a dangerous dog. In addition to proving that the dog has severely injured a person or domestic animal, it must be demonstrated that the animal has a violent history or the propensity to attack. Senate Bill 798 would require only that victims or authorities prove that the dog inflicted serious injury, without provocation, to secure a conviction. It also increases the annual registration fee for a dangerous dog from $500 to $1,000.
The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration. Other bills sent to the House this week include:
Senate Bill 430, which requires carbon monoxide detectors in child care facilities that use a fossil fuel-burning heater or appliance or has an attached garage.
Senate Bill 494, which authorizes political subdivisions and authorities to enter into contracts for services when two consecutive advertisements fail to receive bids.
Senate Bill 905, which is the Capital Budget Project Itemization Act for Fiscal Year 2019-20.
Senate Bill 995, which increases the maximum allowable width of multipurpose agricultural vehicles on public roadways.
Senate Bill 1125, which gives school districts the option to extend property tax discount periods and base periods, and remove penalties for payments through June 30, 2021.
House Bill 1510, which renames several bridges and highways. The bill returns to the House of Representatives for concurrence on Senate amendments.
In addition to Senate Bill 430, Senate Bill 1125, Senate Bill 1166 and House Bill 2502, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved two bills on Tuesday.
House Bill 617 provides for a discounted hunting license for volunteer Hunter/Trapper Education instructors.
House Bill 632 allows a licensed dealer or insurer to use a secure power of attorney that may be signed electronically, and does not have to be notarized, when transferring a vehicle.
Banking & Insurance
The Senate Banking & Insurance Committee approved two bills on Wednesday.
Senate Bill 1195 amends the Insurance Company Law of 1921.
House Bill 1457 provides clarity regarding insurance coverage for custom breast prosthetics.
Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure
The Senate Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure Committee approved eight bills on Tuesday.
House Bill 21 requires the licensure of home inspectors and repeals the Home Inspection Law.
Senate Bill 655 authorizes Pennsylvania to join the Nurse Licensure Compact.
Senate Bill 764 prohibits telemarketers from spoofing phone numbers — so the call appears to originate from the same local area as the recipient.
House Bill 1032 provides for the appointment of two Certified Pennsylvania Evaluators to serve on the State Board of Certified Real Estate Appraisers.
House Bill 1033 clarifies that revaluation company personnel who are directly responsible for the valuation of real property must be certified as a Certified Pennsylvania Evaluator.
House Bill 1061 directs the Attorney General to work with the Department of Aging to ensure older Pennsylvanians have access to information regarding the prevention of financial exploitation.
Senate Bill 1186 amends the Medical Practice Act of 1985 to provide for license without restriction.
Senate Bill 1187 amends the Osteopathic Medical Practice Act to provide for qualifications for license.
In addition to Senate Bill 1125, the Senate Education Committee approved Senate Bill 869 on Monday. The bill establishes a moment of silence in schools coinciding with the anniversary of Sept. 11.
The Senate Finance Committee approved two bills on Monday.
Senate Bill 1036 clarifies that Cervidae (deer, elk, moose) livestock operations are exempt from state Sales & Use Tax, regardless of whether the animals are marketed for game, recreational purposes, animal parts or products, or human consumption.
House Bill 2418 provides for COVID-19 debt cost reduction review.
The Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee approved four bills on Wednesday.
Senate Bill 119 orders a six-month review of the Pennsylvania Code regarding existing regulations and implements a “one-in, two-out” model for new regulations.
Senate Bill 251 establishes the Independent Office of the Repealer to undertake a regular and systematic independent review of existing regulations.
Senate Bill 252 requires state agencies that issue permits to increase transparency throughout the process.
Senate Bill 253 requires state agencies to designate a regulatory compliance officer.
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved two bills on Wednesday.
Senate Bill 1170 permits the calling of expert witnesses in cases of domestic violence to explain victim behavior.
Senate Bill 1193 addresses funding for sheriff and deputy sheriff education and training.
The Senate Local Government Committee approved three bills on Monday.
Senate Bill 1039 amends Title 16 (Counties), consolidates the County Code and makes a related repeal.
House Bill 1564 allows notaries to notarize documents electronically, allows local governments to conduct business through telecommunications, and establishes a new procedure to value manufactured homes.
House Bill 2073 modernizes and recodifies the First Class Township Code.
The Local Government Committee approved Senate Bill 1188 on Tuesday. The bill clarifies the intent and interpretation of taxation methodologies and collections under Act 511 of 1965.
Rules & Executive Nominations
The Senate Rules & Executive Nominations Committee approved Senate Bill 905 on Monday.
In addition to House Bill 2502, the Senate State Government Committee approved two bills on Monday.
House Bill 2018 conveys property in Plymouth, Luzerne County.
House Bill 2045 provides for a property transfer involving Ohiopyle Borough, Fayette County, and Ohiopyle State Park.
The Senate Transportation Committee approved three bills on Tuesday.
House Bill 364 allows school vehicles to be equipped with one yellow flashing and revolving light.
Senate Bill 793 exempts municipal trucks from state bonding requirements when traveling short distances to maintain local roads.
House Bill 1597 renames road and bridges.
Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness
The Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee approved House Resolution 836 and Senate Bill 1166 on Monday.
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