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Senator Don White

Harrisburg Happenings
A Report on the Legislative Session Week
September 16, 2015

Dear Friend,

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 September 16, 2015.

If you find this e-newsletter useful, I invite you to visit my website www.senatordonwhite.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 web page and click the "contact" button. Please do not "reply" directly to this e-mail.

Sincerely,

Don White


"Stop Gap" Budget Needed to Aid Schools, Services

On Friday I voted in support of the stop gap budget package approved by the Senate to provide financial relief to school districts and social service agencies impacted by the prolonged budget impasse

The move is the latest effort by Republicans to help schools, counties, municipalities, agencies and contractors that saw their state payments end on July 1 after Governor Wolf vetoed House Bill 1192 (the Fiscal Year 2015-16 general fund spending bill) on June 30 -- almost immediately after its passage by the General Assembly.

Click for audio and video of my comments on the budget impasse.

This is the fourth attempt by Republicans to come to some compromise and make sure we have stop gap funding that is so critical to our schools and our social services. I am very frustrated that my colleagues on the other side of the aisle are in lockstep with the governor on this. They know the pain back home. I am very disappointed.

The three-bill package -- Senate Bill 1000 (Stop Gap Appropriations Act), Senate Bill 1001 (Fiscal Code Budget Implementation) and House Bill 224 (Public School Code) – provides $11.2 billion in state allocations. That represents one-third (four months) of the state funding as authorized by HB 1192 with limited exceptions.

The stop gap budget also allocates the federal money Pennsylvania administers for schools and local governments.

The House of Representatives is expected to consider the bills next week.

While most expenditures in the stop gap budget are set at one-third of the amount in HB 1192, SB 1000 provides:

  • 100 percent of the state funding ($2.8 million) in HB 1192 to combat Avian Influenza.
  • 100 percent of the state funding ($5 million) in HB 1192 for Regional Events Security related to the upcoming papal visit.
  • 100 percent of HB 1192 funding for debt service.
  • 50 percent of the state funding in HB 1192 for PHEAA, representing one semester’s worth of state funding.
  • 50 percent of state funding in HB 1192 for County Child Welfare to meet requirements set by state law.

Other bills sent to the House of Representatives this week include:

House Bill 175 extends the application filing deadline for the 1990-91 Persian Gulf Conflict Veterans’ Bonus Program to August 31, 2018. The bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.

Senate Bill 290, which makes the ignition interlock program mandatory for first-time DUI offenders with high blood alcohol levels while at the same time reducing suspension requirements in certain cases.

Senate Bill 773 bans the sale of powdered alcohol to minors.

Senate Bill 872, which amends the Second Class Township Code to allow for small gifts to recognize the service or passing of township officials, employees or volunteers.

Senate Bill 873, which amends Title 8 (Boroughs and Incorporated Towns) to allow for small gifts to recognize the service or passing of borough officials, employees or volunteers.

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.

DEP Accepting Comments on Federal Clean Power Plan

In accordance with a law enacted last fall, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is accepting public comment on Pennsylvania’s compliance with the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan through November 12.

Click here to hear Senator White’s comments on the federal EPA regulations.

It is essential that our community makes its concerns about the impending federal regulations known. These regulations, if not modified by the state, would have a devastating impact on Pennsylvania and especially the industries in our region. It is estimated that nearly half of Pennsylvania’s counties would be in violation of the stricter emission limits and we certainly would be in that mix. Our electric generation plants are already stressed by federal regulations and these new rules would put their long-term future and the good jobs they provide our region at risk.

Comments may be submitted online at http://www.ahs.dep.pa.gov/eComment/, or emailed to ecomment@pa.gov, or mailed to the DEP at 400 Market Street P.O. Box 2063 Harrisburg, PA 17105.

More information about the Clean Power Plan is available here.

Last October, Governor Corbett signed into law Act 175 of 2014, a measure strongly supported by Senator White that requires several steps and actions be taken by the DEP as it develops the state plan to comply with EPA regulations. In addition, the law gives the General Assembly a voice in the process before the Commonwealth submits the plan to the EPA.

This law sets specific requirements with the DEP to protect Pennsylvania’s economic interests and thousands of energy-related jobs as the Commonwealth grapples with President Obama’s agenda to curb carbon emissions. The measure received strong bipartisan support in the Senate and House as members worked to protect the jobs and livelihood of thousands of coal and electric generation workers across the state who are potentially endangered by the impending federal regulations.

As required by Act 175, the DEP will also accept comments at “listening sessions” through November. Participants wishing to speak at those sessions are required to pre-register at (717) 783-8727.

Sessions scheduled for western Pennsylvania include:


September 21 -- Allegheny County
6 – 9 p.m.
Carnegie Mellon University, Roberts Hall
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

September 22 -- Cambria County
9 a.m. – Noon
Conference Center at University of Pittsburgh – Johnstown
450 Schoolhouse Road
Johnstown, PA 15904

September 22 -- Greene County
6 – 9 p.m.
Waynesburg Central High School Auditorium
30 Zimmerman Drive
Waynesburg, PA 15370

October 29 -- Erie County
6 – 9 p.m.
Hirt Auditorium at Blasco Library
160 East Front Street
Erie, PA 16507

October 30 -- Clarion County
9 a.m. – Noon
Clarion University
Corner of Payne St & Wilson Ave
Clarion, PA 16214

October 30 -- Clearfield County
2 – 5 p.m.
Penn State Dubois, Hiller Building Auditorium
One College Place
Dubois, PA 15801

Measure Supporting Rape Victims Sent to Governor

The Senate concurred Thursday on House Amendments to Senate Bill 663, legislation introduced by that will strengthen the rights of rape victims who have conceived a child as a result of the rape. The bill now goes to the Governor’s desk for his signature and enactment into law.

Under the legislation, also known as the Rape Survivor Child Custody and Support Act, courts could terminate the parental rights of a convicted rapist, thereby eliminating the abuser’s access to full, partial, or supervised custody of a child conceived by rape. The measure maintains an offender’s obligation to pay child support even if parental rights are terminated by court order.

Current law only allows for the termination of parental rights of convicted rapists pending adoption. Furthermore, if the parental rights of the offender are terminated, the obligation to pay child support is also terminated.

Other bills sent to the Governor this week include:

House Bill 75 requires out-of-state pharmacies to register with the State Board of Pharmacy if they fill prescriptions for Pennsylvania residents.

House Bill 315 amends the Child Labor Act to permit an individual who is at least 12 years old to be employed as a “youth sports official.”

Senate Bill 678 clarifies the arrest powers and jurisdiction of campus police officers employed by Pennsylvania’s 14 State System of Higher Education universities.

Senate Adopts Resolution Supporting PA Coal, Timber Industries

The Senate adopted two Resolutions this week intended to promote the state’s coal and timber industries and the thousands of family-sustaining jobs they provide.

Senate Resolution 54, adopted by the Senate on Wednesday, calls on Congress and the President to review an issue that is currently crippling domestic coal production: Government-sponsored anthracite coal production in China, Russia and Ukraine provides unfair competition with domestically mined coal, providing government subsidies which reduce their prices far below market rates.

Senate Resolution 55, adopted on Thursday, reinstates the Forestry Task Force under the administration of the Joint Legislative Air and Water Pollution Control and Conservation Committee. The bicameral and bipartisan task force will investigate and look to improve the current state of Pennsylvania’s forests and provide long-term forest management strategies.

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