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Senator Don White

Harrisburg Happenings
A Report on the Legislative Session Week
November 23, 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 November 23, 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


Proposal to Eliminate Property Taxes Almost Clears the Senate

The Senate considered and voted on a measure on Monday that would have permanently eliminated school property taxes in Pennsylvania and established a fairer way to fund public schools.

Unfortunately, the proposed amendment to House Bill 683 failed to receive support from a majority of the Senate and was defeated 25-24, with Lieutenant Governor Mike Stack casting the deciding vote to break a tie.

I have supported a number of proposed property tax reform or elimination proposals over the past few years. This is the closest we have come to actually ending the long statewide nightmare of school property taxes in Pennsylvania.

Click for audio and video of my remarks from the floor of the Senate during debate on the amendment.

Visiting Team Physician Bills Sent to Governor

Two bills that will allow out-of-state visiting athletic team physicians to treat athletes during athletic events without the need for a Pennsylvania medical license received final legislative approval this week and were sent to the Governor for his signature and enactment into law.

Senate Bill 685 and Senate Bill 686 amend state laws to allow visiting team physicians to treat athletes as long as they are licensed in their home state and have an agreement with the visiting sports team to provide care for them while traveling.

Many teams in Pennsylvania and around the country employ medical personnel who travel with the team and coaches for the purpose of providing medical care. These team physicians have established medical relationships with the athletes and are well suited to provide care while teams are competing. 21 states currently allow for visiting team physicians to practice in their state without meeting home state licensing requirements.

Three additional bills were also sent to the Governor this week.

Senate Bill 130 bans the practice of allowing persons sentenced to community service to purchase gift cards in lieu of performing the service.

Senate Bill 490 includes the PEMA Director as a position subject to review and confirmation by the Senate. Currently, the post is filled by appointment by the Governor.

House Bill 698 allows for the use of a motorized wheelchair by permanently disabled hunters, and provides permits for individuals with disabilities.

Senate Approves Bill Authorizing Transportation Network Companies

Transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft could operate safely in every county in Pennsylvania under a bill approved by the Senate on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 984 would establish a regulatory framework for the operation of transportation network companies throughout Pennsylvania. These companies are currently permitted to operate in some, but not all Pennsylvania counties and municipalities under a two-year temporary authority granted by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC).

The bill, which now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration, would ensure transportation network companies and drivers meet key requirements, such as maintaining proper insurance coverage, meeting vehicle safety requirements and reporting accidents. In addition, the bill would implement a zero tolerance policy on the use of drugs or alcohol for a driver using the digital network and prevents individuals convicted of certain crimes, including burglary, robbery and sexual offenses, from offering rideshare services.

Other bills approved by the Senate and sent to the House this week include:

House Bill 477, which creates the Activities and Experiences for Children in Out-of-Home Placements Act to give foster parents the ability to approve or disapprove their foster child participating in extracurricular activities. The bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.

Senate Bill 482, which would allow counties to impose a fee of up to 10 percent of the final sale price of a property sold at a judicial sale for a Demolition and Property Rehab Fund.

Senate Bill 735, which would allow mobile retail food facilities to operate in multiple food safety jurisdictions without having to pay multiple fees in each county it operates.

Senate Bill 859, which consolidates the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole into a single state agency titled the “Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.”

Senate Bill 860, which amends the Crime Victims Act making technical changes related to the consolidation of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole into a single state agency titled the “Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.”

Senate Bill 1065, which adds falconry to the list of exemptions for Sunday hunting.

Senate Adopts Resolution Urging Greater Screening of Syrian Refugees

The Senate adopted a Resolution on Tuesday directing the Governor to reject the placement of Syrian refugees within the Commonwealth until the federal government establishes increased security procedures to screen refugees coming from this region.

In light of the terror attacks that occurred in Paris, Senate Resolution 248 requests that the President of the United States direct the Department of Homeland Security to review its security procedures for vetting refugees and to send a report detailing the increased measures to the states that are under consideration to receive refugees. The federal government has already indicated that it will accept 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next year but have not detailed the security measures that will be used to screen these refugees.

Guy Reschenthaler Sworn in to State Senate

Guy Reschenthaler was sworn in to office as the state senator representing the 37th Senatorial District in Allegheny and Washington counties during a ceremony Tuesday in the Senate Chamber. With Reschenthaler’s swearing in, Senate Republicans now hold a 31 to 19 majority, the largest margin since 1954.

The son of former teachers, Reschenthaler was raised in the South Hills of Pittsburgh, graduated from Penn State, The Behrend College, in three years, and completed law school at Duquesne University. Following law school, Reschenthaler served in the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General Corp, volunteering for service in Iraq. Prior to running for the Senate, he worked in private practice at a multi-state law firm in Mt. Lebanon and was elected Magisterial District Judge for Pleasant Hills, Jefferson Hills and South Park, winning the nomination of both parties.

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