A Report on the Legislative Session Week
June 6, 2016
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
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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.
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
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
- 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
- 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
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
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
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
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
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
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.