Senator Mario Scavello E-Newsletter

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Week of May 21

In this Edition:

  • Memorial Day Weekend
  • Around the 40th District
  • Major Economic Development Initiative Championed by Scavello Set for Enactment
  • Scavello Honored by Solar Industry and Energy Advocates for Championing Clean Energy Jobs Act
  • Senate Approves Measure Targeting Domestic Violence in Front of Children
  • Senate Boosts Transparency on Government Spending for Contractors
  • Bills Provide More Flexibility for Cheaper Municipal Purchases
  • Bill Expands State Restitution Law
  • Other Bills Approved by the Senate
  • Committee Roundup
  • Up Next

Memorial Day Weekend

I hope all of us will take time to remember the sacrifices that have been made by those who came before us, so that we may enjoy the freedoms we have today.  Let us honor them, and pay tribute to them this Memorial Day weekend.

Around the 40th District

I joined State Rep. Marcia Hahn in recognizing this year’s top-ranked students from Pen Argyl High School, Bangor High School and Faith Christian School who were honored by the Bangor Exchange Club. All of these students are heavily involved in academics, sports and a host of extra-curricular activities and are graduating with distinction. Congratulations to all of you as you graduate and take the next step in your respective careers!

This week Nazareth Area Middle School hosted the final round of their CHAMP Speech competition. Throughout the school year, 8th grade students researched and performed speeches on historical figures who exemplified the traits of a CHAMP – Courage, Honor, Ability to Lead, Morality and Patriotism. Yesterday my office joined a panel of judges to hear the three finalists – Kiera Karve, Dam Netzy and Grace Cuevas – give their impassioned, creative speeches before their peers. Eachstudent was a victor from their respective 8th grade teams.

Each speech was absolutely outstanding and offered a different and personal perspective on both well-known and more obscure “champs” from history. Well done all of you!

And I want to offer a sincere congratulations to Grace on being voted the winner of this year’s competition. She memorized her entire speech and gave a dramatic presentation of the life and work of Andrée de Jongh, a leading woman in the Belgian resistance movement during WWII. It was her work that saved thousands from the hands of the Nazi’s and impacted countless lives.

Great job, Grace. And thank you to all the teachers and administrators of the Nazareth Area School District Middle School who gave countless hours mentoring and preparing all the students who took part in the CHAMP program.

I want to take a moment to recognize two exceptional young women in my Senate District who were recognized this past weekend for obtaining the prestigious Girl Scout Gold Award. Sarah Jani and Stephanie Salmento, both of Troop 81134 in Nazareth, joined an elite group of Girl Scouts who have obtained the organization’s highest honor.

For her Gold Award project, Sarah built and installed eight bat boxes at the Bushkill Township recreation fields. This is a critical project, as bat populations continue to battle the threat of White-Nose Syndrome.

For her project, Stephanie led self-esteem-boosting activities at Notre Dame High School, which included posting positive signs around the campus, distributing snacks with encouraging messages during examinations and hosting a retreat for senior girls.

Sarah and Stephanie, you both coordinated creative projects that will have a long-lasting impact for many years to come. Thank you for your service to our community and congratulations on this much-deserved distinction. It was an honor to attend your ceremony.

The Slate Belt is home to many high-performing, exceptional students. I recently joined PA State Rep. Marcia Hahn and PA State Rep. Joe Emrick in honoring several students recognized by the Slate Belt Chamber of Commerce for their academic achievements.

The students honored were Natalie Binder of Pen Argyl High School, Kaide Gonzalez of the Career Institute of Technology, Martina Sell of Bangor High School and Jessica Miller of Pen Argyl High School. Jessica was honored with the Frederick R. Curcio Jr. Scholarship Award and all the students are going on to pursue their career interests in higher education.

I wish you all the very best as you enter this next phase of life.

Major Economic Development Initiative Championed by Scavello Set for Enactment 

Legislation I co-sponsored to generate significant economic development statewide, create jobs and enhance the state’s clean energy portfolio gained final legislative approval today.

Senate Bill 234 was approved by the Senate in January and the House of Representatives today. It now heads to Gov. Wolf for enactment.

The bill lays the groundwork for counties and municipalities to create Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing programs. PACE financing allows business owners, contractors, and private investors to arrange long-term loans that are repaid through the property taxes on a building, allowing for limited or no upfront cost for the business.

The inclusion of loan payments in the building’s property taxes relegates responsibility of payment to the current owner of the building for the duration of the loan.

The property tax mechanism, which is administered by local governments, is attractive to the business owner, who is not forced to tie up valuable capital or be bound to a property for an extended period, as well as the investor, who can count on regular payments towards the loan. The all-around incentives of the PACE program have made it a popular plan that has been authorized in 33 states and the District of Columbia.

As Majority Chair of the Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee, I worked with the bill’s sponsors, Sen. John Blake (D-22) and Sen. Guy Reschenthaler (R-37), to bring together dozens of stakeholders from the business, labor and clean energy communities to develop the legislation.

There are many businesses in my district that have been able to capitalize on the benefits of solar.  Some of those businesses were able to afford the upgrades, but others can’t, and this program helps those who do not have the funds readily available, but can afford a long-term loan. Statewide, this will mean significant economic development and job creation through enhancement of the state’s clean energy portfolio. In addition, many commercial, industrial and residential buildings throughout Pennsylvania see savings as they are made more efficient by energy upgrades.

Scavello Honored by Solar Industry and Energy Advocates for Championing Clean Energy Jobs Act


I was humbled Wednesday upon being honored by the Solar Unified Network of Western Pennsylvania (SUNWPA) and the PA Chapter of Mid-Atlantic Solar Energy Industries Association (PASEIA) for his efforts to boost the use of clean energy in the Commonwealth.

Scavello championed two key measures in the current legislative session, Clean Energy Jobs legislation and Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing programs.

Provisions from Senator Scavello’s Clean Energy Jobs Act, Senate Bill 404, were amended into Act 40 of 2017, the 2017-18 Administrative Code.

The law requires that electric distributors will have to purchase their Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) from within the Commonwealth, protecting Pennsylvania-based solar credits and putting Pennsylvania in line with many neighboring states. The measure ensures that PA rate-payers are supporting jobs, investment and tax revenue in Pennsylvania.

Solar energy is a key component of our diverse energy portfolio, which is driving 21st century job creation. I am proud to receive this recognition, which reflects my commitment to promoting clean energy and economic development it provides to rural and urban communities.

Senate Bill 234 lays the groundwork for counties and municipalities to create Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing programs. PACE financing allows business owners, contractors, and private investors to arrange long-term loans that are repaid through the property taxes on a building, allowing for limited or no upfront cost for the business.

Senate Approves Measure Targeting Domestic Violence in Front of Children

The Senate approved legislation Wednesday that would lead to tougher sentences for crimes of domestic violence committed in front of children.

Senate Bill 1092 provides for a sentence enhancement within the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing’s guidelines for simple and aggravated assault.

According to research, half of domestic violence crimes were committed in the presence of at least one child. When these children grow up they are more likely to engage in dangerous behavior and are more likely to become an abuser or be abused themselves.

Under Senate Bill 1092, range of sentences would be based on such aggravating circumstances as the assault was committed against a family or household member and the defendant knew the crime was witnessed, either through sight or sound, by a minor who is also a family or household member of the defendant or the victim.

Passage of Senate Bill 1092 follows March’s Senate passage of a crime victims package targeting domestic abuse.

Senate Boosts Transparency on Government Spending for Contractors 

The Senate this week approved a measure that will increase government transparency by requiring the Department of Insurance to detail its spending for outside contractors.

Senate Bill 1031 requires the Department of Insurance to submit an annual report detailing its spending for third-party contractors to conduct fiscal examinations of insurance companies doing business in Pennsylvania.

 Fiscal inspections are an important safeguard for consumers, to ensure that insurance companies are financially responsible. And, it is understandable that the Department may need to contract with outside agencies to perform those exams.

However, the Department must take every step possible to ensure those contractors are performing those duties in a responsible manner that does not place an undue burden on insurance companies, consumers, and taxpayers.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Bills Provide More Flexibility for Cheaper Municipal Purchases 

The Senate passed a package of bills on Tuesday to allow many Pennsylvania municipalities to purchase used equipment, vehicles and other personal property from volunteer emergency service organizations without competitive bidding.

Lifting that mandate would cut costs and ultimately save taxpayer money. The bills in the package are: Senate Bill 801 (boroughs and third-class cities), Senate Bill 802 (first-class townships), Senate Bill 803 (second-class townships), and Senate Bill 804 (incorporated towns).

Under the bills, a municipality – acting on behalf of its volunteer fire company — would be permitted to buy a used fire truck from a volunteer fire department serving a nearby municipality without public bidding. The municipality and the organization selling the equipment could agree to a lower than market price for the fire truck since both municipalities and departments would benefit from the transaction.

Municipalities would also save the advertising and administrative costs associated with preparing a notice for requests for bids. The average cost to publish in a medium size paper in the Legal Notice section for a full page is about $6,800, half-page $3,400 and quarter-page $1,700.

Bill Expands State Restitution Law

The Senate passed legislation on Tuesday that would allow governments, organizations and businesses to collect restitution if they’re victims of a crime.

Senate Bill 897 closes a loophole in state law that defines a victim specifically as an individual who has suffered physical or mental injury, death or the loss of earnings.  As a result of that limited definition, a recent Supreme Court ruling found that governmental entities and businesses are not eligible for reimbursement when they are victimized and suffer losses.

SB 897 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Other Bills Approved by the Senate

Senate Bill 189 amends Pennsylvania’s Crime Victims Act to allow victims to attend the entirety of criminal trials.

Senate Bill 257 increases parity in the eye care industry.

Senate Resolution 322 directs the Legislative Budget & Finance Committee to study the effectiveness of standardized testing.

Senate Bill 439 requires carbon monoxide detectors in child care facilities.

House Bill 566 provides for the suspension of services by a contractor or a subcontractor if timely payment is not received in accordance with the terms of a construction contract. The bill returns to the House of Representative for concurrence on Senate amendments. I voted against this bill.

Senate Bill 652 enhances the penalties for those who criminally trespass on “critical infrastructure facilities.”

Senate Bill 1038 amends the Pennsylvania Election Code regarding residual funds.

Senate Bill 1092 amends the Crimes Code to create an offense for domestic violence in front of children.

Senate Bill 1101 reduces the need for some consumers to obtain a recovered theft vehicle title by creating a damage threshold that would trigger this requirement.

Senate Bill 1104 changes the certification requirements for vocational teachers.

House Bill 1952 addresses a state Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision that impacts Pennsylvania’s sexual offender registration act. The bill returns to the House of Representative for concurrence on Senate amendments.

Senate Bill 630 bill reforms insurance licensure requirements for travel agents. This bill was sent to the Governor for enactment.

Committee Roundup

Agriculture & Rural Affairs

The Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee approved two bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 819 provides uniformity and protection for agritourism activities.

Senate Bill 1171 replaces the Nutrient Management Advisory Board with a new Farm Animal Advisory Board to give animal farmers greater input into environmental regulations.

Appropriations

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved 18 bills on Monday.

House Bill 99 allows boroughs to enter contracts or make purchases without advertising, bidding or price quotations in emergency situations.

Senate Bill 655 requires mandatory implementation of opioid prescribing guidelines developed by the Safe and Effective Prescribing Practices Task Force.

Senate Bill 771 amends the Borough Code and Third Class City Code to provide for concise publication of required annual financial reporting information, thus saving boroughs and cities, and their taxpayers, money.

Senate Bill 772 amends the First Class Township Code to provide for concise publication of required annual financial reporting information, thus saving boroughs and cities, and their taxpayers, money.

Senate Bill 773 amends state law regarding incorporated towns to provide for concise publication of required annual financial reporting information, thus saving boroughs and cities, and their taxpayers, money.

Senate Bill 801 allows boroughs and third-class cities to purchase used equipment, vehicles and other personal property from volunteer emergency service organizations without competitive bidding.

Senate Bill 802 allows first-class townships to purchase used equipment, vehicles and other personal property from volunteer emergency service organizations without competitive bidding.

Senate Bill 803 allows second-class townships to purchase used equipment, vehicles and other personal property from volunteer emergency service organizations without competitive bidding.

Senate Bill 804 allows incorporated towns to purchase used equipment, vehicles and other personal property from volunteer emergency service organizations without competitive bidding.

Senate Bill 947 increases the threshold for requiring public advertising for bids from $1,000 to $2,000 when boroughs and third-class cities sell their personal property.

Senate Bill 948 increases the threshold for requiring public advertising for bids from $1,000 to $2,000 when first-class townships sell their personal property.

Senate Bill 949 increases the threshold for requiring public advertising for bids from $1,000 to $2,000 when incorporated towns sell their personal property.

Senate Bill 1005 makes numerous changes to the County Code.

House Bill 1034 creates a standardized procedure for the way authorities handle funds and provides for audits and fiscal reports.

Senate Bill 1047 eliminates the Pittsburgh Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority.

Senate Bill 1104 changes the certification requirements for vocational teachers.

Senate Bill 1127 increases the penalties for the fraudulent traffic of food orders, otherwise more commonly known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits.

House Bill 1793 creates the Pennsylvania Commission for the United States Semiquincentennial.

The Appropriations Committee approved six bills on Tuesday.

House Bill 126 allows certain entities to have non-patient specific epinephrine auto-injectors.

Senate Bill 257 increases parity in the eye care industry.

Senate Bill 357 provides for the offense of Aggravated Assault by a Person in Custody if the individual tries to cause another person to come into contact with blood, seminal fluid, saliva, urine or feces by throwing, tossing, spitting or expelling such fluid or material.

Senate Bill 652 enhances the penalties for those who criminally trespass on “critical infrastructure facilities.”

Senate Bill 1092 amends the Crimes Code to create an offense for domestic violence in front of children.

House Bill 1917 provides for additional qualifications for the appointment, training, oversight and continuing education for humane society police officers.

On Wednesday, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Health & Human Services held a public hearing to hear from school officials on the importance of mental health services in ensuring school safety.

Hearing Video

Banking & Insurance

The Senate Appropriations Committee amended and approved House Bill 152 on Wednesday. The bill requires the Insurance Department to administer and maintain a database of life insurance policies to search for potential beneficiaries.

Education

The Senate Education Committee approved five measures on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 2 establishes education savings accounts. 

Senate Resolution 322 directs the Legislative Budget & Finance Committee to study the effectiveness of standardized testing.

House Bill 564 requires students to pass a test that is identical to the civics test produced by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services as a condition of high school graduation.

Senate Bill 1032 requires comprehensive financial reporting by the State Board of Education during the regulation process.

Senate Bill 1159 creates a centralized repository for student records of institutions licensed through the “Private Licensed School Board.”

Finance

The Senate Finance Committee approved three bills on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 37 provides for a sales tax exemption on the purchase of firearm safes and vaults.

House Bill 994 clarifies that the sales of telephones, telephone numbers, modems, tablets and related accessories, including cases, chargers, holsters, clips, hands free devices, screen protectors and batteries are not subject to the gross receipts tax.

Senate Bill 1058 changes the reporting standards by which securities are determined to be abandoned and unclaimed.

Health & Human Services

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee approved three bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 1001 empowers the Department of Health to declare public health emergencies in certain cases.

Senate Bill 1054 requires the licensing of prescribers of Suboxone, also known by its generic name – Buprenorphine.

Senate Bill 1089 addresses the disparity in access standard for substance abuse center services between urban and rural areas.

State Government

The Senate State Government Committee approved two bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 22 provides for a Redistricting Commission of independent citizens.

Senate Bill 1037 reforms and modernizes the Pennsylvania Civil Service Commission.

Transportation

The Senate Transportation Committee approved three bills on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 249 waives Turnpike tolls for emergency vehicles when either directly responding to an emergency situation or participating in the escort of a fallen firefighter, ambulance service or rescue squad member, law enforcement officer or armed service member killed in the line of duty.

Senate Bill 1156 renames roads and bridges.

House Bill 1646 increases the penalty for careless driving resulting in the death, serious bodily injury, or bodily injury to a pedestrian, or a person on roller skates, inline skates, a skateboard, motor-driven cycle, motorcycle, pedalcycle, motorized pedalcycle, pedalcycle with electric assist, an animal, an animal-drawn vehicle, a farm vehicle or a wheelchair.

On Tuesday, the committee met to consider the re-nomination of Pat Deon to the PA Turnpike Commission, and held a public hearing on Turnpike budget and program priorities.

Hearing Video

Up Next

The Senate returns to voting session on Monday, June 4 at 1 p.m. You can watch session live at PASenateGOP.com.  

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