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Senator Don White

Harrisburg Happenings
A Report on the Legislative Session of
February 6, 2017

Dear Friend,

I am pleased to send you my Session Wrap Up e-newsletter. This e-newsletter features legislative activities during the Session Week of February 6, 2017.

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


Governor Wolf Unveils His Proposed 2017-18 Budget

2/7/17 - Budget Address Reaction

Governor Tom Wolf unveiled his proposed $32.338 billion General Fund budget for Fiscal Year 2017-18 before a joint session of the General Assembly on Tuesday.

This was the best budget address I have heard of his three -- long on ideas and initiatives, but very short on details. He didn’t mention anything about his Marcellus Shale tax ideas or increasing the minimum wage, which I know is a priority of his. 

The Governor’s proposal represents a $571.5 million (1.8 percent) increase in spending from the FY 2016-17 budget. It also projects a shortfall of $640 million in anticipated revenues for FY 2016-17. The most recent IFO projection is a $716 million shortfall.

The Governor’s budget recognizes a $3 billion preliminary deficit for FY 17-18, a number virtually identical to previous Senate Republican projections. To fill that gap, the Governor is proposing $2 billion in cuts and savings initiatives and $1 billion in new taxes. However, the Governor is not requesting an increase in either the income tax or sales tax rates.

I think it’s all about the cost drivers. He never mentions pension reform. That’s something we have battled for the last 20 years. It looks like he wants to kick the can down the road. Until that’s addressed I don’t think we can talk about any new expenditures whatsoever – that is hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars every year. I will go back and read between the lines to see if there is anything more positive there. I give the Governor credit, he’s been a strong advocate for his initiatives and has been a guy who makes it quite clear where he is coming from, but we need to see the details.

The Senate’s consideration of the Governor’s proposals will begin later this month with three weeks of budget hearings before the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Click for and audio.

Senate Action Recap

The Senate approved bills this week modifying Pennsylvania’s abortion law, improving safety by addressing dangerous illegal aliens, reforming government, and setting equitable pay standards.

The bills, which now head to the House of Representatives, include:

Senate Bill 3, which amends the Abortion Control Act to reduce the maximum gestational age for legal abortions from 24 to 20 weeks and prohibits dismemberment abortion.

Senate Bill 10, which holds a “municipality of refuge” accountable for not enforcing state and federal laws relating to immigration.

Senate Bill 166, which ensures that political campaign funds are not collected by public sector unions through government-provided mechanisms with taxpayer resources.

Senate Bill 170, which requires comprehensive reform measures at the Delaware River Port Authority.

Senate Bill 181, which establishes a performance-based budget component.

Senate Bill 241, which prohibits sexual discrimination in employee pay rates.

Committee Roundup

Appropriations

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved four bills on Monday.

Senate Bill 10 holds a “municipality of refuge” accountable for not enforcing state and federal laws relating to immigration.

Senate Bill 137 codifies the Civil Air Patrol’s state operations in Title 51 under the leadership of the Adjutant General.

Senate Bill 166 ensures that political campaign funds are not collected by public sector unions through government-provided mechanisms with taxpayer resources.

Senate Bill 167 calls for a Constitutional amendment ending the practice of using taxpayer-funded payroll systems to collect money used for politics.

Judiciary

The Senate JUDICIARY Committee approved Senate Bill 3 on Monday. The bill amends the Abortion Control Act to reduce the maximum gestational age for legal abortions from 24 to 20 weeks and prohibits dismemberment abortion.

Rules & Executive Nominations

The Senate RULES & EXECUTIVE NOMINATIONS Committee approved Senate Bill 10 on Monday. The bill prevents municipalities and counties from designating themselves as “sanctuary cities” in order to thwart federal efforts to combat illegal immigration. 

Finance

The Senate Finance Committee approved five bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 7 creates the Taxpayer Protection Act which limits the State appropriation increases to the average percentage change in personal income in the Commonwealth for the prior three years or to the average percentage change in inflation for the three years prior plus the average percentage change in the state population for the three years prior, whichever is less.

Senate Bill 173 is a constitutional amendment providing for state appropriation limits.

Senate Bill 201 provides for “like-kind” exchange tax deferrals.

Senate Bill 202 permits a small business to deduct net losses from a subsequent tax year’s state tax liability.

Senate Bill 203  increases the deductible amount of a small business’ qualifying equipment purchases to the amount that may currently be deducted under Section 179 of the Internal Revenue Code.

Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure

The Senate CONSUMER PROTECTION & PROFESSIONAL LICENSURE Committee approved three bills on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 54 strengthens the Puppy Lemon Law.

Senate Bill 274 officially recognizes Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists under Pennsylvania statute. 

Senate Bill 297 updates the Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act

Transportation

The Senate TRANSPORTATION Committee approved four bills on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 251 would permit all municipal police to utilize radar for speed enforcement.

Senate Bill 265 would designate the Market Street Bridge in Harrisburg as the Senator Harold Mowery Market Street Bridge.

Senate Bill 279 would permit full-time municipal police officers employed by full-service police departments or regional police departments in counties of the first class, second class, second class A and third class to use radar or LIDAR for speed enforcement. 

Senate Bill 288  would increase fines and suspend the licenses of repeat offenders of Pennsylvania’s “Steer Clear” law. 

Communications & Technology

The Senate COMMUNICATIONS & TECHNOLOGY Committee approved Senate Bill 133 on Wednesday. The bill repeals the REAL ID Nonparticipation Act (Act 38 of 2012), which prohibits Pennsylvania from complying with the Federal REAL ID Act.

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