A Report on the Legislative Session Week
February 17, 2015
I am pleased to send you my Session Wrap Up e-newsletter. This
e-newsletter features events and legislative activities during the Session Week
of February 17, 2015.
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Banking and Insurance Committee Approves Four Bills
The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee that I chair considered and
approved four bills on Wednesday.
House Bill 159 authorizes a reciprocal insurance exchange that writes
medical liability insurance to convert to a stock insurance agency.
Senate Bill 487 prohibits healthcare plans from inappropriately imposing
multiple copayments for licensed physical therapy, chiropractic and occupational
Senate Bill 489 amends the Check Casher Licensing Act of 1998 to lower the
fee for cashing a government-issued check and to require the public posting of
fees for cashing such checks.
Senate Bill 494 repeals a requirement that the General Assembly be furnished
with a printed copy of an annual report required under the Flood Insurance
Education and Information Act of 1996. The report and other flood-related
insurance data are available online at the Department of Insurance website.
All four bills now go to the full Senate for consideration.
Senate Approves Purely Public Charities Bill
The Senate passed a proposal on Tuesday that would amend the Pennsylvania
Constitution to give the General Assembly the power to determine whether an
institution is a purely public charity and thus exempt from paying local
Senate Bill 4 specifies that the General Assembly, not the judiciary, has
the exclusive right to set the parameters for an organization to qualify as a
purely public charity. The measure is necessary following a 2012 Pennsylvania
Supreme Court ruling which created a great deal of confusion among charities and
local governments regarding the criteria for an organization to qualify for a
Because the bill would amend the state Constitution, the proposal must pass
in two consecutive legislative sessions before being decided by the voters via
referendum. The proposal was already approved once by the General Assembly
during the 2013-14 session.
Senate Approves Bill Promoting Conventional Oil Production in
The Senate approved legislation on Wednesday that will protect and promote
conventional oil and natural gas production in Pennsylvania.
Senate Bill 279, legislation to protect the conventional oil and gas
production industry from state regulations intended for companies extracting
Marcellus Shale gas, now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
SB 279 would establish the Penn Grade Crude Development Advisory Council, a
panel empowered to study existing regulations and assist the Department of
Environmental Protection in making changes that better address the differences
between conventional and unconventional oil and gas production.
On Tuesday (February 17) the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)
announced the formation of a Conventional Oil and Gas Advisory Committee (COGAC)
to increase transparency and communication about regulating the conventional oil
and gas drilling industry. Coincidentally, the DEP’s announcement came on the
same day that the Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously approved SB 279.
The DEP is accepting nominations for COGAC. Persons interested in nominating
a committee member should send their full name, title, affiliation, address,
e-mail, and telephone number and their nominee’s resume to Todd Wallace of the
Office of Oil at Gas Management at: Rachel Carson State Office Building, P.O.
Box 2063, Harrisburg, PA 17105-2063 or
Nominations will be accepted through March 3.
Also on Wednesday, the Senate approved
Senate Bill 397, a measure that would privatize and regulate the Bail
Bondsman industry in Pennsylvania.
Committee Hearing Focuses on “True Costs of E-911”
With the end of the Emergency Telephone Act looming at the end of June, the
Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee held a public hearing
on Wednesday to gather testimony on the “True Costs of E-911” in Pennsylvania.
Substantial changes in technology and society since the original enactment of
the law in 1996 have increased equipment and personnel costs for county dispatch
centers, while whittling away at the funding sources that were intended to
support those operations, according to state and county officials.
Testifiers included representatives from the Pennsylvania Emergency
Management Agency, Legislative Budget & Finance Committee, County Commissioners
Association of PA, and a panel consisting of officials from the Allegheny,
Philadelphia, Tioga, and Westmoreland County E-911 centers.
The committee also considered and approved
House Bill 152, a measure amending the Emergency and Law Enforcement
Personnel Death Benefit Act by extending the filing period for the death benefit
from 90 days to three years. That bill now goes to the full Senate for
Click here for video of the committee’s proceedings.
here for the committee’s agenda and written testimony.