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Senator Don White

Harrisburg Happenings
A Report on the Legislative Session Week
June 22, 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 June 22, 2016.

If you find this e-newsletter useful, I invite you to visit my website 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.


Don White

Strong Bipartisanship Effort to Protect Energy-Related Jobs

We’ve all heard plenty of criticism of state government, particularly concerns of divisive partisanship and a corresponding decrease in productivity by the General Assembly. Certainly last year’s highly publicized budget debacle did nothing to quash those concerns.

However, what tends to get overlooked are occasions when the Legislature works together in a strong bipartisan manner to protect jobs and support local communities, such as the passage of Senate Bill 1195, my bill Governor Wolf recently signed into law addressing Pennsylvania’s compliance with the federal Clean Power Plan (CPP).

For decades, our region has been known as ‘Power Alley’ as we are home to three 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 downturn in the energy economy is well known and we have taken more than our fair share of body blows during this difficult time.

I am pleased with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle who stood up for workers and their families who face an uncertain future because of this federal mandate by voting for Senate Bill 1195.

The Obama Administration set this process in motion more than two years ago by announcing a sweeping program to dramatically reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The CPP would mandate a 32 percent reduction in emissions by the year 2030 and put the onus on individual states to comply with the directive.

For some states, meeting that mandate is an easy lift.

That’s not the case here in Pennsylvania, where the burden would undoubtedly fall on coal-powered generation facilities and therefore jeopardize the employment and livelihood of many people in western Pennsylvania.

The General Assembly recognized developing a compliance plan for Pennsylvania would grant tremendous power to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Therefore, it is reasonable the Legislature should have oversight and ensure the views and interests of every region across the state be taken into account before a state plan was filed with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

We accomplished that with the enactment of Act 175 of 2014, which set specific steps and actions required of the DEP as it developed the state plan to comply with EPA regulations. In addition, the law gave the General Assembly a voice in the process before the submission of the plan to the feds.

However, nothing is ever simple when it comes to dealing with the federal government as we found out in February when the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay that halted the implementation of the CPP pending the resolution of legal challenges to the program.

That stay upended the timetable for the DEP as prescribed in Act 175 and a new set of state guidelines was needed, so I introduced them as the core of Senate Bill 1195.

The bill received broad-based support from 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).

In fact, Senate Bill 1195 enjoyed strong bipartisan support in the Senate (38-11) and the House (147-41).

This has been a long and tough road, but Senate Bill 1195 is now law in Pennsylvania. I am pleased the Governor and the Legislature found common ground on this measure designed to safeguard Pennsylvania’s energy-producing industries and the thousands of workers they employ, while protecting them from regulations that could come with Pennsylvania’s compliance with the federal CPP.

Five Bills Receive Final Legislative Approval

Five bills received final legislative approval this week and were sent to the Governor for his signature and enactment into law.

House Bill 602 increases the active duty pay for National Guard personnel from $75 to $100 per day. The National Guard base pay was last increased in 1996, from $45 to the current rate of $75 per day.

Senate Bill 936 provides for a one-time fee of $50 to cover the employer’s costs in setting up the wage garnishment to comply with the enforcement of a child support order.

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

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.

House Bill 1766 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.

Senate Sends Five Bills to House of Representatives

The Senate approved five bills this week and sent them to the House of Representatives for consideration.

House Bill 342 adds “school director” to the list of various elective offices in the Election Code and sets a requirement that candidates for school director obtain 10 signatures in order to appear on a primary ballot. The bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.

Senate Bill 876 amends the Workers’ Compensation Act to allow the Department of Labor & Industry to verify that out-of-state employers have secured required workers’ compensation insurance or are self-insured under the workers’ compensation statutes in other states.

Senate Bill 1166 gives the Pennsylvania Game Commission the authority to establish the fees that it charges for licenses.

Senate Bill 1168 gives the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission the authority to establish the fees that it charges for licenses.

Senate Bill 1233 adds “Special Emergency Response Team” to the definition of emergency service responders and emergency vehicles in state law.

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