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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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:
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
The Senate returns to voting session on Monday, June 1. You can watch session live at PASenateGOP.com.
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Monroe County Office
Northampton County Office
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