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Senator Mario Scavello

Dear Friend,

Below is a recap of this week’s legislative activity in the Senate. It covers votes by the full Senate and a look ahead.

The highlight was Senate passage of legislation to reform our public pension systems, which are driving up taxes and draining public resources.

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Sincerely,

Mario


Senator Scavello met with members of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Industrial Resource Center (NEPIRC) to discuss the importance of manufacturing in the Commonwealth. NEPIRC presented the senator and Representative Tina Pickett with a plaque acknowledging their support of manufacturing and their membership in the 2015 Manufacturing Caucus. Senator Scavello thanked the members of NEPIRC for their invaluable work in supporting and expanding the Commonwealth’s family-sustaining manufacturing jobs.

 

Senate Approves Public Pension Reform Measure

Recognizing that increasing public pension costs are creating an unsustainable burden on state government and local school districts, the Senate approved a reform measure Wednesday that is projected to produce $18.3 billion in savings over 30 years.

Senate Bill 1 restructures the state’s two public employee pension systems – the State Employees’ Retirement System and the Public School Employees’ Retirement System – in order to make them viable in the long term.

The features of Senate Bill 1 include:

  • All new state and public school employees will be enrolled in a 401k-type Defined Contribution Plan similar to those used by private sector workers.
  • Members of the General Assembly, upon election or re-election, will be enrolled in the same Defined Contribution Plan as state and public school employees.
  • Current employees will be able to choose to increase their pension contribution or lower their future benefits.
  • No changes to current retiree benefits.
  • A Public Pension Management and Asset Investment Review Commission made up of investment professionals and retirement advisors will be established to make recommendations to the General Assembly and the Governor. Among their duties will be to evaluate the performance of current investment strategies and procedures of both state retirement systems regarding rates of return and associated fees paid for fund management.

Skyrocketing pension costs are driving up school property taxes and draining resources from classrooms, and prompted the Governor’s call for unprecedented state tax hikes. I hope the House of Representatives now addresses it with the same urgency as the Senate.

(Click on chart to view increasing pension costs for school districts in the 40th Senatorial District)

 

Watch – Speaking on the floor of the Senate, Senator Scavello outlines the impact of the pension crisis on local schools and urges a vote for reform.

Senate Approves Medical Cannabis Bill

The Senate on Tuesday approved legislation I am co-sponsoring that would legalize the use of cannabis for medical purposes.

Senate Bill 3 would allow individuals who suffer from certain medical conditions to apply for a medical cannabis access card from the Department of Health. A licensed health care practitioner would be required to provide written certification in order for an application to the Department of Health to be considered. The legislation creates a new Board of Medical Cannabis Licensing within the Department of State that will be responsible for regulating growers, dispensers and processors.

Senate Bill 3 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Senate Approves New Motorcycle License Plate to Support Veterans

The Senate approved legislation Tuesday intended to help needy veterans through the sale of a special motorcycle license plate.

Senate Bill 284 authorizes the special “Honoring Our Veterans” license plate for motorcycles and Senate Bill 285 allocates a portion of the funds raised through sales of the plate to the Veterans Trust Fund. The trust fund assists veterans in need of help with food, utilities, mortgage or rent payments, health care and other necessities of life.

The bills now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Other Bills Approved by the Senate and Sent to the House

Senate Bill 264 bans the sale, possession, or distribution of shark fins.

Senate Bill 514 amends the Generic Equivalent Drug Law to provide for the substitution of an interchangeable biological product for a brand name biologic.

Senate Bill 678 clarifies the arrest powers and jurisdiction of campus police officers employed by Pennsylvania’s 14 State System of Higher Education universities.

Senate Confirms Nine Cabinet Secretaries

The Senate confirmed nine cabinet nominations this week:

Major General James Joseph – State Adjutant General

Dennis Davin - Secretary of Community and Economic Development

Curtis Topper - Secretary of General Services

Leslie Richards - Secretary of Transportation.

Teresa Osborne - Secretary of Aging

Russell Redding - Secretary of Agriculture

Gary Tennis - Secretary of Drug and Alcohol Programs

Dr. Karen Murphy - Secretary of Health

Kathy Manderino - Secretary of Labor and Industry

Up Next

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

Senator Scavello attend a reception by the PA State Association of County Fairs (PSACF). (left to right, back row) Rep. Kurt Masser, David Reese (PSACF President and Tioga County Fair), David Hallstrom (PSACF Vice-President and Clearfield County Fair), Rep. Mike Carroll, Jeff Romberg (Somerset County Fair), Harry Reffner (Bedford County Fair and PSACF Secretary-Treasurer), Rep. Jesse Topper, Rep. Marcia Hahn, Rep. Rosemary Brown, Rep. Sandy Major, Senator Scavello. (left to right, front row) Rep. Donna Oberlander, Michael Froehlich (York County Fair), Ron Miller (PSACF Past President and Agricultural Fair Fund Administrator), Rep. Dave Millard.

   

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Offices

Senate Box 203040
Harrisburg, PA 17120-3040
Phone: (717) 787-6123
Fax: (717) 772-3695

Monroe County Office

DePue Plaza
2989 Route 611, Suite 103
Tannersville, PA 18372
Phone: (570) 620-4326
FAX: (570) 620-4379
Monday - Friday
9 a.m.- 5 p.m.

Northampton County Office

2 North Robinson Avenue
Pen Argyl, PA 18072
Phone: (610) 863-1200
FAX: (610) 863-1214
9 a.m.- 5 p.m.

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