A Report on the Legislative Session Week
June 13, 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 June 13, 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.
Bills to Protect Energy-Related Jobs Sent to the Governor
Two bills addressing state and federal energy regulations -- including
legislation I introduced to protect family-sustaining Pennsylvania jobs placed
at risk by the federal Clean Power Plan -- received final legislative approval
Wednesday and were sent to the Governor, who is expected to sign them into law.
The Senate concurred Wednesday (38-11) on amendments by the House of
Senate Bill 1195, my bill addressing Pennsylvania’s compliance with the
federal Clean Power Plan, and (37-12) on amendments to
Senate Bill 279, which removes conventional oil and gas drillers from the
Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) proposed changes to state
(Chapter 78) regulations on drilling operations in the Commonwealth.
Specifically, my bill provides procedures for the General Assembly’s
consideration of the implementation strategy developed by the Department of
Environmental Protection for the federal Clean Power Plan before its submission
to the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
This has been a long and tough road, but Senate Bill 1195 is now headed to
the Governor’s desk to become law in Pennsylvania. I am pleased that the
Governor and the Legislature were able to find common ground on this measure to
safeguard Pennsylvania’s energy-producing industries and the thousands of
workers they employ and protect them from overreaching regulations that could
come with Pennsylvania’s compliance with the federal Clean Power Plan.
My bill received broad-based support in the Commonwealth, including that of
several organized labor groups: 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 the region depends on these power-generating
facilities and the fuel they consume. The global downturn in the energy economy
is well known and my District has taken more than its fair share of body blows
during this difficult time.
I am pleased that my bill and Senate Bill 279, introduced by my colleague
Senator Scott Hutchinson (R-21), were sent by the Senate to the Governor on the
It is definitely appropriate that these bills are moving in tandem. They both
address concerns that good jobs and vital industries could be lost due to
overzealous regulations. Senate Bill 279 requires the DEP to recognize that
conventional oil and gas well operations have been a key part of our communities
for 150 years and that they should not be treated in the same manner as the
Marcellus Shale industries.
The General Assembly made it perfectly clear in Act 126 of 2014 that any new
rules for Marcellus Shale gas extraction operations imposed by the DEP must be
developed separate from the conventional drilling industry.
Senate Bill 279 reinforces that provision by stating that DEP must declare
its newly enacted regulations for conventional operations void. DEP may now
decide to embark upon another regulatory process, one solely intended for
conventional drilling operations.
video of my comments on Senate Bill 1195.
Property Tax Elimination Constitutional Amendment
The Senate approved a measure on Monday that would amend the Pennsylvania
Constitution to permit complete property tax relief for principal places of
House Bill 147, which was approved by the House of Representatives
last year, would allow for the complete elimination of residential school
property taxes through the homestead exclusion.
Since constitutional amendments must be approved in two consecutive sessions,
the exact language of the measure must be approved by the General Assembly
during the 2017-18 Legislative Session before it can be put up for a statewide
The Governor’s signature is not required for constitutional amendments.
In a related matter, the Senate also approved
Senate Bill 1109 on Monday. The bill provides for a constitutional
amendment to extend the property tax exemption program for disabled veterans to
the surviving spouse of soldiers killed in action. That bill was sent to the
House for consideration.
Cost-saving Legislation for Schools Sent to Governor
Legislation that will allow school districts to save thousands of dollars in
annual mailing costs received final legislative approval Tuesday and is headed
to the Governor for his signature.
Senate Bill 1077 eliminates the mandate that school districts
annually inform parents by physical mailing when the district uses audio and
video recording to identify and address discipline issues on school buses.
The mailer mandate was included as part of
Act 9 of 2014, which gave school districts the ability to use audio
recordings on school buses. Instead of the physical mailing, which can easily
cost thousands of dollars each year, schools must post notice of the policy in
the student handbook as well as on the school’s website.
Three additional bills received final legislative approval this week and were
sent to the Governor.
Senate Bill 772 updates the state Professional Psychologists
Practice Act for the first time since 1986.
Senate Bill 837 expands title protection to marriage and family
therapists, ensuring that only licensed and properly trained professionals can
market their services to clients.
Senate Bill 983 allows parents and/or guardians of disabled adult
children, who are in their care, to receive disability license plates.
Senate Approves Measure to Increase Education for Opioid
The Senate approved legislation on Wednesday 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.
The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration. Also
sent to the House this week were:
Senate Bill 163, which addresses the needs of children of
incarcerated parents and services available to them.
Senate Bill 1113, which provides broader representation of crime
victims on the Victims’ Services Advisory Committee within the Pennsylvania
Commission on Crime and Delinquency.
House Bill 1325 gives second class townships the authority to
implement storm water management ordinances and to assess a fee to fund the
planning, management, implementation, construction and maintenance of storm
water facilities. The bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate
House Bill 1766, which allows future life insurance policy reserves
to be based on Principle-Based Reserving, a methodology that is more advanced
and better reflects the risks of new innovative insurance policies. The bill
returns to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.