Below is a recap of this week’s legislative activity in the Senate. It
covers votes by the full Senate and committee hearings, plus a look ahead to
Also, our Northampton County district office opened this week! It’s
located at 2 North Robinson Avenue in Pen Argyl (full information is on the
right of this page) and marks the first time a state senator has opened an
office in the Slate Belt region. In the near future, we’ll also be announcing
satellite office hours to meet the needs of constituents in the southern portion
of my district.
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In this Edition:
Committee Approves Scavello Resolution
Creating a Select Committee on Purely Public Charities
A measure I sponsored to establish a select committee on “Purely Public
Charities” was approved Wednesday by the Senate Finance Committee.
Senate Resolution 28, the bipartisan Select Committee on Institutions of
Purely Public Charity will conduct statewide hearings and work with non-profits,
elected officials, tax experts, public safety organizations and other
stakeholders to determine whether additional legislation is needed and make
recommendations relating to legislation on the treatment of purely public
charities in Pennsylvania.
The treatment of these charities has been in flux in recent years. With Act
55 of 1997, the General Assembly used its constitutional power to provide clear
and uniform standards in statute to define which purely public charitable
institutions may claim a tax exemption. A 2012 state Supreme Court decision
struck down the provisions and reinstated standards established by the courts as
the means to determine the definition of a charity. The decision has created
uncertainty and the potential for increased litigation.
The Senate recently approved a proposed constitutional amendment to restore
the General Assembly’s power to determine whether an institution is a purely
The select committee would consist of legislators appointed by Senate and
House leaders, members of the Senate and House Finance committees, members of
the Senate and House Local Government committees, and the Secretary of Revenue.
The committee would have one year from its creation to report its findings. I
introduced a similar measure as Senate Bill 446.
We have nearly 100,000 nonprofits across the Commonwealth, providing critical
services to our communities, helping vulnerable populations in this Commonwealth
and reducing the burden of local governments with regard to administering
government functions for those populations. This makes it vital for the
legislature to talk about the many issues and meet with all stakeholders
involved to achieve the appropriate balance between the cost of services
provided by local governments and the protection of our local charities.
Senator Scavello Discusses SR 28
Senate Approves Increased Accountability for
The Senate approved legislation Monday that would provide more accountability
in the awarding of state sole-source/no-bid and emergency contracts.
Senate Bill 316 address issues outlined in an October 2009 Auditor General
audit on technology contracts.
The apparent lack of openness, transparency, and accountability has too often
raised suspicion of the Commonwealth’s procurement process. These difficulties
especially arise whenever the state enters into sole-source (and sometimes
no-bid) contracts or “emergency procurements.”
This legislation would require more public access to procurement records,
including the posting of information on the websites of the Department of
General Services and other purchasing agencies. Written determinations of
purchasing officers would also be required when entering into sole-source/no-bid
and emergency contracts deemed to be “in the best interests of the
Senate Approves Bill Regulating Healthcare
The Senate approved legislation on Monday that would provide essential
protection of consumers’ rights and personal information under the federal
health care act.
Senate Bill 293, also known as the Navigator Accessibility and Regulation
Act, would require Healthcare Exchange Navigators be certified by the Department
of Insurance and pass a criminal background check. The federal Affordable Care
Act (ObamaCare) relies on individuals, generally called “navigators,” to educate
and enroll millions of uninsured Americans in either Medicaid or a private
insurance plan. Although in many respects these navigators act like insurance
agents, they have almost no qualifications or restrictions placed upon them.
Other bills approved by the Senate this week include:
Senate Bill 9 which would require anyone requesting public benefits in the
Commonwealth to provide identification proving they are a legal resident.
Senate Bill 166 which would allow courts to grant expungement if the crime
is a misdemeanor of the third or second degree and the individual has not been
arrested or prosecuted for seven to ten years following the completion of the
sentence or judicial supervision.
Senate Bill 179 which consolidates several statutes relating to hotels and
other lodging establishments.
Committee Holds Public Hearing on Medical
The Senate State Government Committee held a public hearing on Wednesday on
Senate Bill 3, a measure that would allow physicians to provide medical
cannabis to patients in Pennsylvania.
The purpose of the hearing was to hear from people on both sides of the issue
and discuss possible amendments to the bill, including Real-Time Registry;
research supporting expansion of the list of diseases; and best methods of
delivery for patients using medical cannabis. Senate Bill 3 would allow patients
who have a recommendation from their doctor to purchase and use medical cannabis
from centers licensed by a to-be-created State Board of Medical Cannabis
here for video and written testimony from the hearing.
Committee Hearing Focuses on Veterans’ Issues
The Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee held a public
hearing on Wednesday to gather testimony on veterans’ issues. The panel heard
from federal and state officials as well as representatives from veterans’
organizations during the hearing.
here for video and written testimony from the hearing.
The Senate reconvenes Monday at 1 p.m. On Tuesday at noon, the governor
will present his proposed 2015-16 state budget to a joint session of the
legislature. You can watch the address and Senate session live at
Senate Committee Schedule
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