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 April 11, 2016.
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Committee Approves Bills to Protect Energy Related Jobs
The Senate Environmental Resources & Energy Committee approved, with strong bipartisan support, two bills intended to protect family-sustaining Pennsylvania jobs placed at risk by Governor Wolf’s veto of the Fiscal Code, House Bill 1327.
Senate Bill 1011, which I introduced, would spare Pennsylvania’s conventional oil and gas well operations from the Administration’s onerous new regulations intended for Marcellus Shale gas extraction operators.
I was extremely disappointed that the Governor vetoed the Fiscal Code, which among other important provisions would provide essential regulatory protection for conventional gas and oil wells. Specifically, a section of the Fiscal Code would have invalidated new regulations on conventional oil and gas wells that were published after Nov. 30, 2013. I believe these new proposed regulations are illegal, but the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has proceeded to implement them anyway. Senate Bill 1011 clarifies once again that DEP must follow the law.
The Committee also voted to send a letter to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) recommending the panel completely reject the new oil and gas regulations proposed to Chapter 78. Click here to read the letter to the IRRC.
Senate Bill 1195 includes provisions addressing Pennsylvania’s compliance with the federal Clean Power Plan. Specifically, the bill provides procedures for the General Assembly’s consideration of the implementation strategy developed by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for the federal Clean Power Plan before its submission to the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
The bills now go to the full Senate for consideration.
Senate Approves Special License Plate for Active Duty Military
I am pleased to report that the Senate approved a bill on Tuesday that recognizes and honors Pennsylvania’s active duty military personnel.
Senate Bill 1155 establishes a special vehicle license plate for members of the United States Armed Forces adding special recognition for active members of the military, reserves, and Pennsylvania National Guard. This would be an addition to the currently available license plates with special recognition for World War II veterans, Purple Heart recipients and Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans.
The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration. We also approved and sent to the House six other bills this week.
House Bill 400 establishes the “Work Experience for High School Students with Disabilities Act.” The bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.
Senate Bill 1114 amends the Sewage Facilities Act to allow the use of conventional or alternative on-lot systems for planning purposes throughout the Commonwealth.
House Bill 1319 establishes the Pennsylvania ABLE Savings Program Tax Exemption Act. The act is companion legislation to legislation that would establish the ABLE Act Savings Program in the Treasury Department to encourage eligible individuals with disabilities to save private funds from which the expenses related to their disabilities may be paid. The bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.
Senate Bill 1152 requires children under the age of one be secured in a rear-facing child seat while traveling in a vehicle.
Four Bills Sent to Governor
Four bills received final legislative approval and were sent to the Governor this week.
House Bill 12 amends state law regarding divorce to address situations in which one spouse has committed a personal injury crime against the other.
Senate Bill 879 provides that the Treasury Department may establish a program through which federal Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) savings accounts may be opened for eligible individuals for payment of qualified disability expenses.
House Bill 1329 establishes the Caregiver, Advise, Record, and Enable (CARE) Act, which requires hospitals to allow patients to designate a caregiver prior to discharge from the facility.
House Bill 1278 amends state law to allow television broadcasts or video images in a moving vehicle as long as the images are not visible to the driver.
Local Government Committee Approves Four Bills
The Senate Local Government Committee, which I chair, approved four bills Tuesday.
Senate Bill 1038 adds a judicial position to juvenile detention boards in third class counties.
House Bill 1325 amends the Second Class Township Code by authorizing a board of supervisors to enact and enforce storm water management ordinances and to assess fees for the purpose of funding the construction, maintenance and operation of storm water management facilities, systems and management plans.
House Bill 1394 amends Title 8 (Boroughs) by authorizing a borough to enact and enforce storm water management ordinances and to assess fees for the purpose of funding the construction, maintenance and operation of storm water management facilities, systems and management plans.
House Bill 1661 amends the First Class Township Code by authorizing the board of commissioners to plan and construct storm water management plans and facilities, enact and enforce storm water management ordinances, and assess fees for the purpose of funding the construction, maintenance and operation of storm water management facilities, systems and management plans.
The bills now go to the full Senate for consideration. Click for audio from the meeting.
Senate Approves Resolution to Review Corrections Department Overtime
The Senate approved a Resolution on Monday authorizing an official study of mandatory overtime in the Department of Corrections. Senate Resolution 263 directs the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to review costs associated with mandatory overtime for corrections officers versus the costs to hire, train and equip additional corrections officers.
Corrections Secretary John Wetzel testified at a Senate Appropriations Committee budget hearings that overtime costs for his department amount to approximately $90 million annually. The Department of Corrections receives the third largest state appropriation from the General Fund and its overtime costs have outpaced all other state agencies from 2010 through 2014.
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