A Report on the Legislative Session of
January 23, 2017
I am pleased to send you my Session Wrap Up e-newsletter. This
e-newsletter features legislative activities during the Session Week
of January 23, 2017.
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Committee Assignments Announced
I am pleased to report that Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati
appointed me to serve as Chairman of the Senate Banking & Insurance Committee
and as a member of four other standing committees (Environmental Resources &
Energy, Law & Justice, Rules & Executive Nominations, and State Government) for
the 2017-18 Legislative Session
I am extremely pleased with my committee assignments for this session. These
committees have a major impact in shaping policies and enacting laws that will
have a significant impact in our region.
The Banking & Insurance Committee will again be extremely active. We will
certainly be following the anticipated changes to the federal Affordable Care
Act that are likely to come out of Washington in the near future. I also
anticipate that we also will be looking at several other aspects of the
healthcare marketplace in Pennsylvania over the course of this session.
Environmental Resources & Energy monitors the coal and Marcellus Shale
industries and the legislation that impacts them. Rules & Executive Nominations
receives nominations made by the Administration and reviews Senate bills that
are amended by the House of Representatives before they can be reconsidered by
the Senate, so that is an extremely important committee assignment. The Law &
Justice and State Government committees will be at the forefront of many of the
major reform measures that are expected to come before the General Assembly
during this session.
Chairmen Announce New Effort to Assist PA’s First
As the Pennsylvania General Assembly kicked off the 2017-18 Legislative
Session on Monday (January 23), the leaders of the Senate Veterans Affairs &
Emergency Preparedness Committee and House Veterans Affairs & Emergency
Preparedness Committee announced a renewed effort to assist Pennsylvania’s first
The four chairmen were joined by first responders from across the state to
Senate Resolution 6, a “reboot” of
Senate Resolution 60 of 2003 – the comprehensive study of fire &
EMS issues completed in 2004 – and to discuss a 16-bill package of legislation
to complement and build on previous efforts to help Pennsylvania’s first
responders address key issues such as recruitment and retention.
Finding and keeping personnel is a key issue facing many departments as the
ranks of volunteers in Pennsylvania have dwindled from about 300,000 in the
1970s to around 50,000 today.
Facing similar concerns a decade ago, the General Assembly approved
Senate Resolution 60, a concurrent resolution that created a
bi-partisan commission to study emergency services across the Commonwealth.
The 25-member commission released a report that focused on specific concerns
such as recruitment and delivery of services, issues that seemed to be most
common among fire departments and ambulance corps across the state. Through that
focus, the Commission developed a set of recommendations that were intended to
provide needed assistance to Pennsylvania’s emergency service providers.
The fire and EMS support measures unveiled by the Chairmen on Monday include
bills to promote recruitment and retention, such as offering online training to
make the process more convenient, providing loan forgiveness to attract
volunteers, and developing a pilot program to offer firefighter training in
secondary schools. Other measures would provide tax credits to businesses that
excuse their employees when they need to respond to emergencies or undergo
training and provide new billing options for fire departments and EMS
Committees Review Possible State Prison Closures
Three Senate committees held a joint public hearing on Monday to review the
Wolf administration’s decision to potentially close two state prisons.
The Senate Majority and Democratic Policy Committees and Senate Judiciary
Committee held the hearing to look at various aspects of the proposed closings
including cost to taxpayers, public safety, transparency, prison overpopulation
and the impact on local communities.
On January 6, the Department of Corrections announced that it would close two
state prisons in June. Five state prisons are currently under consideration,
including SCI Frackville, SCI Mercer, SCI Pittsburgh, SCI Retreat and SCI
Senate Standing Committee Roundup
TRANSPORTATION Committee held a public hearing on winter
preparedness and modernization on Tuesday and approved three bills.
Senate Bill 170 requires comprehensive reform measures at the
Delaware River Port Authority.
Senate Bill 171 requires Senate confirmation of the Chief Executive
Officer of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.
Senate Bill 172 provides a five-year trial period for PENNDOT to
place speed cameras in active work zones on limited access highways.
Environmental Resources & Energy
ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCES & ENERGY Committee, which I serve on,
approved two bills Tuesday.
Senate Bill 138 gives royalty interest owners the opportunity to
inspect records of the gas company to verify proper payment.
Senate Bill 139 prohibits gas companies from retaliating against a
royalty interest owner by terminating the lease agreement or ceasing development
because a landowner questions the accuracy of the royalty payments.
JUDICIARY Committee approved five bills Tuesday.
Senate Bill 42 imposes criminal penalties for those who falsely
wear military awards and decorations.
Senate Bill 59 authorizes joint ventures between correctional
facilities and private industry.
Senate Bill 60 requires cash-for-gold dealers to retain each item
of precious metal for 10 business days, instead of five, after purchasing it.
The extension will allow burglary victims to discover and report the theft and
will enable police to investigate the theft.
Senate Bill 62 protects and provides services for children of
Senate Bill 69 addresses the enforcement and application of
Pennsylvania’s cruelty laws as they pertain to horses.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT Committee approved two bills Wednesday.
Senate Bill 10 prevents municipalities and counties from
designating themselves as “sanctuary cities” in order to thwart federal efforts
to combat illegal immigration.
Senate Bill 128 provides for clear state preemption of local
mandated leave ordinances.
Urban Affairs & Housing
URBAN AFFAIRS & HOUSING Committee approved two bills Wednesday.
Senate Bill 50 requires disclosure of a property's flood history.
Senate Bill 51 amends the Landlord and Tenant Act to require
disclosure of a property's flood history.
Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness
VETERANS AFFAIRS & EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS Committee approved two
measures on Wednesday.
Senate Resolution 6 calls for a “reboot” of
Senate Resolution 60 of 2003, the comprehensive study of fire and
EMS issues completed in 2004.
Senate Bill 137 codifies the Civil Air Patrol’s state operations in
Title 51 under the leadership of the Adjutant General.