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Senator Don White

Harrisburg Happenings
A Report on the Legislative Session Week
June 6, 2016

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 May 16, 2016.

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


Senate Approves My Bill to Protect Energy-Related Jobs

The Senate approved, by a 41-9 bipartisan vote on Wednesday, my bill that protects family-sustaining Pennsylvania jobs placed at risk by the federal Clean Power Plan, according to Don White (R-41), the prime sponsor of the measure.

Senate Bill 1195, as amended on Tuesday, 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.

Senate Bill 1195 is a compromise agreement between the General Assembly and Governor Wolf that provides important safeguards that protect local energy-producing industries and the thousands of workers they employ from overreaching regulations that could come with Pennsylvania’s compliance with the federal Clean Power Plan. The U.S. Supreme Court has suspended the implementation of the Clean Power Plan rules for further discussion and evaluation, so it only makes sense for Pennsylvania to follow that approach.

The language in Senate Bill 1195 will allow the General Assembly to give Pennsylvania’s plan thoughtful consideration before it is submitted. It is essential that the Legislature be proactive in protecting our industries. The state regulations to comply with this federal edict could have a devastating impact on those industries.

My bill is supported by several organized labor groups, including: the AFL-CIO, the Pennsylvania State Building and Construction Trades Council; the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 66 (IUOE); the Boilermakers Local 13; the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW); and, the United Mine Workers of America. (UMWA).

For decades, our region has been known as ‘Power Alley’ as we are home to three very large coal-fired powers plants, a coal refuse plant and a natural gas plant. The economic vitality of our region depends on these power-generating facilities and the fuel they consume. The global downtown in the energy economy is well known and we have taken more than our fair share of body blows during this difficult time.

That’s why Senate Bill 1195 is so vitally important. It sends a message to the hard-working men and women who keep our energy needs met that the General Assembly will have their backs as these new regulations are developed.

Audio and video of my comments on the bill.

Senate Bill 1195 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration. The Senate also approved and sent to the House five additional bills this week.

House Bill 264 requires carbon monoxide detectors to be installed in long-term care nursing facilities, personal care homes and assisted living residences that use fossil fuel burning devices or appliances. The bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.

Senate Bill 428 provides additional sentencing provisions for trespassing at gaming establishments.

Senate Bill 1227 transfers the responsibilities of the Public Employee Retirement Commission with regard to pension legislation to the Independent Fiscal Office and the Office of the Auditor General.

House Bill 1241 amends the definition of public utility in state law to exempt water or sewer service provided by a resort and to exempt the provision of service by a municipal corporation under certain circumstances. The bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.

Senate Bill 1270 amends the Real Estate Appraisers Certification Act to bring Pennsylvania into compliance with updated Federal appraiser standards.

Liquor Modernization Bill Signed by the Governor

The Governor signed into law Wednesday a new law that will allow grocery stores to sell wine, increase opportunities for the sale of beer, and improve consumer convenience for overall liquor sales.

House Bill 1690 provides many changes that increase customer convenience, including:

  • Allowing grocery stores that sell beer, licensed restaurants, and hotels to sell up to four bottles of wine per customer.
  • Permitting licensed wine producers to ship their products directly to Pennsylvania consumers.
  • Allowing “six-pack” shops to upgrade their “eating place” licenses to “full” restaurant licenses to sell wine as well as beer.
  • Lifting the requirement that State Stores close on certain holidays and only operate on limited hours on Sundays.
  • Allowing special discounts and sales at State Stores.
  • Permitting casinos, for a fee of $1 million, to receive a license to sell alcohol 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Allowing lottery tickets sales in State Stores.

Four bills received final legislative approval and were sent to the Governor.

House Bill 57 amends the Public Utility Code to change the interest rate associated with recovery of purchased gas costs, eliminate the migration rider, and provide for recovery of costs incurred to implement customer choice.

Senate Bill 61 officially recognizes bike medics and permits them to operate their bicycles in the same manner as a police officer on a bicycle.

Senate Bill 489 reduces the maximum fee that a check casher may charge for cashing government checks.

Senate Bill 847 adds a representative from the Korean War Veterans Association to the State Veterans Commission, a panel comprised of representatives from Pennsylvania’s major veterans associations.

Committee Approves Measure to Increase Education for Opioid Prescribing

The Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee approved legislation on Tuesday that would require continuing medical education training as a way to stem the tide of opioid and prescription drug abuse in the state.

Senate Bill 1202 requires state licensing boards to call for two hours of continuing education in “pain management” and two hours in “opioid prescribing practices” for individuals applying for an initial license or renewal of an existing license or certification to prescribe medications in the Commonwealth.

The increased use of heroin, which often has roots in the abuse of prescription painkillers like Vicodin and OxyContin, has catapulted Pennsylvania to seventh in the nation for drug-related overdose deaths in recent federal statistics. According to a National Survey of Primary Care Physicians, nine out of 10 doctors reported prescription drug abuse as a moderate to large problem in their communities, and 85 percent believed that prescription drugs are overused in clinical practice.

Health Department Working to Implement Medical Marijuana Program

The Pennsylvania Department of Health is currently working on temporary regulations for Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program, with the full implementation of the program expected to take between 18 and 24 months to complete.

The first step in the process is developing an identification card system for children to receive the drug. More information about Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program is available on the Department of Health website at www.health.pa.gov.

Senator Don White is on facebook

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