Senator Mario Scavello E-Newsletter

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Week of June 24, 2019

In this Update:

  • Coming Soon: Scavello Senior Expo July 15
  • In Case You Missed It: School Property Tax Elimination Update
  • Scavello Applauds Senate Approval of No-Tax-Increase Budget That Invests in Jobs, Education, Agriculture, School Safety
  • Senate Approves PA Health Insurance Exchange Bill
  • Scavello Bill Allowing Local Police Radar Approved by Senate
  • Senate Votes to Open Primary Elections to Independents
  • Around the 40th District
  • A list of other Fiscal Year 2019-20 Budget Bills
  • Measures to Support Agriculture Sent to Governor
  • School Safety Measure and Other Bills Sent to Governor
  • Bills Approved by the Senate and sent to the House
  • Up Next

 Coming Soon: Scavello Senior Expo July 15

In Case You Missed It: School Property Tax Elimination Update

I recently provided a thorough update on the number one issue in our region: school property tax elimination. You can read it here.

Scavello Applauds Senate Approval of No-Tax-Increase Budget That Invests in Jobs, Education, Agriculture, School Safety

6/27/19 – Passage of 2019-2020 State Budget

The Senate approved a Fiscal Year 2019-20 spending plan that includes no tax increases, funds essential services, promotes workforce development, bolsters education at all levels and makes a substantial investment in the state Rainy Day Fund.

House Bill 790, which spends nearly $34 billion – a 1.8 percent increase over the current fiscal year, now goes to the Governor for enactment into law.

Revenues for Fiscal Year 2018-19 are anticipated to be $865 million over projections, with an ending balance of about $300 million. All of that money will go into the Rainy Day Fund, which covers financial shortfalls in the event of a downturn in the economy.

The budget increases state support for all levels of education. Basic Education funding is increased by $160 million and special education will see a $50 million increase.  

HB 790 increases spending to support early education with Pre-K spending increasing by $25 million, HeadStart receiving a $5 million increase, and Early Intervention services receiving a $15 million increase.

Higher education institutions will also benefit from this budget with an across-the-board 2 percent increase in funding for community colleges, state-related universities (Pitt, Penn State. Temple and Lincoln) and the State System of Higher Education.

After several years of embracing conservative budgeting, today we find ourselves on strong financial footing. An on-time budget with responsible spending is an example of how government can deliver services on behalf of our taxpayers and Pennsylvanians in need. This budget delivers funding that works for all residents of Pennsylvania.

Read more about the state budget here.

Senate Approves PA Health Insurance Exchange Bill 

The Senate approved legislation to create an authority to operate a state-based health insurance exchange for Affordable Care Act individual market plan.

House Bill 3 will also permit the Commonwealth to apply for a waiver to create a reinsurance program to drive down premium increases in the individual market. The federal government has provided greater flexibility and opportunities for states through such waivers.

The bill was approved earlier this week by the Senate Baking and Insurance Committee, which I chair. The amended bill returns to the House of Representatives for consideration. 

I believe this will result in better insurance premiums for Pennsylvanians. The Commonwealth is taking the lead on this vital issue rather than depend on the federal government.

Scavello Bill Allowing Local Police Radar Approved by Senate

The Senate today voted overwhelmingly to approve legislation I sponsored permitting Pennsylvania municipal police to utilize radar for speed enforcement.

All states but Pennsylvania permit their local police to use radar for monitoring traffic speed. In Pennsylvania, only the State Police are currently authorized to use radar. It makes no sense that the state allows municipalities to use red light cameras to curtail unsafe driving, but does not allow the use of this World War II era technology.

Speed was a factor in a recent pedestrian fatality in Mount Pocono, Monroe County, at a heavily congested intersection where high speed has contributed to a history of crashes.  The only way the local police can enforce and enforce properly is with radar.

Senate Bill 607 includes revenue cap on the amount of money a municipality may keep from speeding tickets which allows for no more than 20 percent of their municipal budget.

Senate Votes to Open Primary Elections to Independents

The Senate voted to approve legislation allowing voters who are registered as independents to vote in Pennsylvania primary elections.

Senate Bill 300 would give over 740,000 registered unaffiliated voters the right to participate in the primary election process. On the day of the primary election, these voters would be able to choose to cast their vote on either the Republican or Democrat ballot. Voters who are registered with either the Republican Party or Democratic Party will continue to be required to vote on their respective ballots.

Turnout in our primary elections is dismal, especially in ‘off-year’ elections. Opening up the primaries will franchise more voters and expand the number of voices heard on Election Day. This will add energy and vitality to our democratic process. 

Around the 40th District

I want to take a moment to recognize a young leader in my district, 10 year old Navy Sea Cadet Adam Stratz. Adam is working toward one day attending the U.S. Naval Academy, which he has already visited with his father. He is an A student, Pocono Mountain East wrestler and plays on the All Star PMELL 10-and-Under Baseball Team. Adam is an example of a young man who is working toward realizing the goals he has set for himself as an aspiring member of our U.S. Navy. Thank you for the example you set for others, both for your peers and adults as well. Be proud of what you’ve done so far and don’t stop pushing toward your dream!

Congratulations to Julia Horn, a graduating senior from Evergreen Community School, who was honored recently with two scholarships from the Grand Commandery of the Knights Templar of PA and the Willing Workers of Paradise Valley. Julia’s receipt of these scholarship funds demonstrate her commitment to academic excellence and her strength of character. I wish you all the best as you pursue your studies at Muhlenberg College in the fall as a pre-med major! And a heartfelt congratulations to your parents, Russ and Stephanie (also pictured).

Congratulations to our newest Eagle Scouts in the 40th Senate District – Aiden Koch, of Troop 74, Daniel Saviet, of Trop 101, and Ethan Argot of Troop 84.  I also commend their families, troop leaders and fellow Scouts for supporting these young men as they ascended the Trail to Eagle. Thank you for your service to our community and your example to fellow Scouts!

Tuesday evening, we welcomed a delectable newest business to the 40th District, Naz-O-Nut in Nazareth. I encourage you to stop by and enjoy the freshly homemade donuts, a variety of coffees, smoothies and freshly squeezed juices.

A list of other Fiscal Year 2019-20 Budget Bills

In addition to House Bill 790, the General Assembly approved and sent to the Governor a number of other bills that complete the full state budget package for Fiscal Year 2019-20.

Code Bills

House Bill 33 amends the Human Services Code to eliminate the general assistance cash benefit program, continue the medical assistance Day One incentive payment for non-public nursing homes, and extend the Philadelphia Hospital assessment.

Senate Bill 48 amends the Election Code, including the replacement of voting machines.

Senate Bill 144 amends the Public School Code to provide for $60 million for the School Safety and Security Grant Program and adds new school safety measures.

House Bill 262 amends the Tax Reform Code.

Senate Bill 695 reauthorizes the Human Services Code.

Senate Bill 700 amends the Public School Code to create the Public Higher Education Funding Commission and implement recommendations from the Public School Building Construction and Reconstruction (PlanCon) Advisory Committee.

Senate Bill 712 is the Fiscal Code Bill.

House Bill 1461 amends the Administrative Code to expand the investigative powers of the state Inspector General and make other changes.

House Bill 1615 amends the Public School Code regarding educational tax credits and makes other changes.

Preferred Appropriations

Senate Bill 235 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for the Bureau of Professional & Occupational Affairs.

Senate Bill 236 provides Workers’ Compensation Act and the Pennsylvania Occupation Disease Act funding for Fiscal Year 2019-20.

Senate Bill 237 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for the Office of Small Business Advocate.

Senate Bill 238 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for the Office of Consumer Advocate.

Senate Bill 239 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for the Public School Employees’ Retirement Board.

Senate Bill 240 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for the State Employees’ Retirement Board.

Senate Bill 241 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for the Philadelphia Parking Authority.

Senate Bill 242 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.

Senate Bill 243 provides State Gaming Fund Appropriations funding for Fiscal Year 2019-20.

Non-Preferred Appropriations

House Bill 1350 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for Penn State.

House Bill 1351 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for the University of Pittsburgh.

House Bill 1352 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for Temple University.

House Bill 1353 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for Lincoln University.

House Bill 1354 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for the University of Pennsylvania for veterinary activities and for the Center for Infectious Diseases.

Measures to Support Agriculture Sent to Governor

A substantial package of bills to support Pennsylvania farmers and help new farmers continue the state’s rich agricultural heritage received final legislative approval and were sent to the Governor for enactment into law.

The legislative package — which features the “Farming First” bills from Senate Republicans — includes:

Senate Bill 338, which increases the allowable width for farm equipment on roads.

House Bill 370, which addresses provisions for farmland preservation.

Senate Bill 478, which provides a personal income tax credit for landowners who lease or sell their land, buildings and equipment to beginning farmers.

Senate Bill 585, which establishes the Pennsylvania Dairy Future Commission to review the current status of the dairy industry in the Commonwealth and make recommendations on how to support its future.

Senate Bill 634, which creates a “Conservation Excellence Grant Program” to provide financial and technical assistance to farmers to install and implement best management practices.

Senate Bill 661, which creates the Commonwealth Specialty Crop Block Grant Fund.

House Bill 915, which allows milk haulers to travel on highways during a declaration of disaster emergency.

House Bill 1514, which provides for Farm-To-School Program grants.

House Bill 1516, which establishes the Agriculture Rapid Response Disaster Readiness Account.

House Bill 1520, which creates a grant program to reimburse federal meat inspection costs for small or new processors and subsidize the first-time purchase of equipment needed for federal compliance.

House Bill 1526, which establishes the Agriculture-Linked Investment Program.

House Bill 1590, which establishes the Dairy Investment Program and Dairy Investment Program Account.

School Safety Measure and Other Bills Sent to Governor

A measure resolving questions about the comprehensive School Safety and Security Law (Act 44) enacted last year was among a large number of bills that received final legislative approval and were sent to the Governor for enactment into law.

Senate Bill 621 clarifies language regarding armed school security guards and regarding sheriffs and deputy sheriffs who serve as school security officers. The legislation also establishes a baseline of training for all school security personnel – whether armed or not – to ensure that they are trained for the purpose of working in a school setting and alongside students.

Other bills sent to the Governor include:

House Bill 3 , which creates an authority to operate a state-based health insurance exchange for Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) individual market plans.

House Bill 24, which requires, with limited exceptions, that all debt amortization be done using an equal annual maturities plan.

House Bill 65, which is an omnibus road and bridge renaming bill.

Senate Bill 117, which designates the Bedford Street bridge in Johnstown, Cambria County, as the Seaman Apprentice Kenneth D. Scaife Memorial Bridge.

Senate Bill 127, which reauthorizes Pennsylvania’s 911 Law.

Senate Bill 128, which codifies the Civil Air Patrol under the Department of Military & Veterans Affairs.

Senate Bill 130, which releases a restriction regarding a property in Montour County.

House Bill 131, which amends the Liquor Code to further define “alcoholic cider” and “fermented fruit beverage.” 

House Bill 195, which allows pharmacies to synchronize monthly medication fill dates for a patient, so the prescriptions are filled on the same day of the month.

House Bill 235, which allows a correctional facility employee to serve as a witness to the consent to an adoption by an incarcerated birth parent.

House Bill 265, which amends the Public School Code concerning transfers of credits between institutions of higher education.

Senate Bill 298, which directs “Stolen Valor” fines to the Pennsylvania Veterans’ Trust Fund. 

Senate Bill 321, which gives municipalities the option to ban gaming establishments.

House Bill 423, which creates a referendum to allow voters to choose whether a municipality should stay “dry,” allow limited alcohol sales or convert to “wet.”

Senate Bill 440, which provides for flexible instruction days.

House Bill 448, which adds the PEMA Director and the State Police Commissioner to the Pennsylvania Commission for the U.S. Semiquincentennial.

House Bill 547, which amends the First Class Township Code to allow townships to set their annual assessment of the property tax millage rate by resolution.

House Bill 548, which amends the Borough Code and the Third Class City Code to allow for the assessment of the annual property tax millage rate by resolution.

House Bill 615, which expands the definition of enforcement officer in the State Employees Retirement Code to include Pennsylvania Game Commission personnel.

Senate Bill 698, which amends the Medical Practice Act to let physicians use a designee to input information about written agreements into the Department of State’s new online PALS licensing system.

Senate Bill 699, which amends the Osteopathic Practice Act to let physicians use a designee to input information about written agreements into the Department of State’s new online PALS licensing system.

Senate Bill 701, which provides for the conveyance of the former Allentown State Hospital property.

Senate Bill 724, which amends Title 24 (Education) and Title 71 (State Government) to make technical corrections to certain sections added or amended by Act 5 of 2017 and adds provisions for nonparticipating employer withdrawal liability under the Public School Employees’ Retirement Fund.

House Bill 751, which makes technical and editorial changes to the Public Utility Code.

House Bill 786, which establishes accreditation criteria for Level III trauma centers.

House Bill 807, which requires the compensation of Pennsylvania National Guard general officers to be commensurate with the federal military pay scale.

House Bill 826, which authorizes non-profits affiliated with major league and collegiate sports teams to conduct 50/50 drawings for charity.

House Bill 856, which reinstates adoption and permanent legal custodian subsidies.

House Bill 1172, which establishes an endorsement process for issuing certain professional licenses to applicants who are licensed to practice in another state.

House Bill 1324, which allows National Guard members to earn educational benefits for their spouse and/or children by committing to a second six-year reenlistment with the Pennsylvania National Guard.

House Bill 1524, which allows the transfer of some liquor licenses. 

House Bill 1614, which amends the Judicial Code to extend the jurisdiction of police officers and agents of the Office of the Attorney General to include situations when they participate in a federal, State or local task force.

Bills Approved by the Senate and sent to the House

Senate Bill 147, which empowers the Pennsylvania Game Commission to allow hunting on up to three Sundays.

Senate Bill 300, which allows voters who are registered as independents to vote in primary elections.

Senate Bill 325, which officially recognizes Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists under Pennsylvania statute. 

Senate Bill 418, which addresses the minimum number of ballots that counties are required to print.

Senate Bill 421, which eliminates “straight party” voting.

Senate Bill 422, which establishes the Pennsylvania Election Law Advisory Board.

Senate Bill 456, which allows private licensed schools to create branch campuses in counties outside the county that houses the primary site.

Senate Bill 575, which creates a nutrient procurement program.

Senate Bill 590, which creates the Charter School Funding Advisory Commission.

Senate Bill 607, which allows all municipal police to use radar for traffic speed enforcement.

Senate Bill 619, which amends the Clean Streams Law to address accidental discharges or spills of substances.

Senate Bill 669, which reinstates the permanent legal custodian and adoption assistance subsidies to children from 18 to 21 years of age. 

 Senate Bill 742 exempts gas-powered passenger cars, vans, and light-duty trucks from the emissions testing program for the first eight years after manufacture. 

Senate Bill 743 replaces the annual emissions testing mandate and replaces it with a two-year testing requirement.

Senate Bill 744 exempts Blair, Cambria, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Lycoming, Mercer, and Westmoreland Counties from emissions testing. 

Senate Bill 745 replaces the tailpipe test in Pittsburgh and the two-speed idle test via a dynamometer/treadmill in the Philadelphia region with a gas cap test and a visual inspection for model year 1994-95 vehicles.

Senate Bill 746 extends the date for existing emissions inspection stations to obtain new emissions testing equipment from November 1, 2019 to July 1, 2021.

Senate Bill 751, which reforms the educator evaluation system.

Senate Bill 778, which reduces the Turnpike’s contributions to the Public Transportation Trust Fund.

Up Next

The Senate returns to voting session Monday, September 23.

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