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Senator Mario Scavello

In this Edition:

  • Senate Approves Bipartisan 2015-16 Budget
  • Senate Sets Hearing on Kane’s Ability to Lead Office of Attorney General
  • PACE COLA Exemption Extension Sent to Governor
  • Other Bills Sent to the Governor
  • CHIP Reauthorization Approved by the Senate
  • Bills Returned to House for Concurrence on Senate Amendments.
  • Bills Sent to the House for Consideration
  • Senate Confirms State Police Commissioner
  • Next Week

Congratulations to the Stroudsburg Independent Orchestra on performing at the Capitol. You did truly wonderful and my colleagues and I thank you for the holiday music!

Senator Scavello

Senate Approves Bipartisan 2015-16 Budget

12/7/15 - Budget Reaction

The Senate approved a 2015-16 budget (Senate Bill 1073) this week that includes cost-cutting reform and historic funding for education without the need for the massive tax increases originally proposed by Governor Wolf. The $30.8 billion plan is approximately $1.15 billion less than the Governor’s original budget request in March.

The bulk of funding increases in the budget are dedicated to education. The plan increases Basic Education funding by $350 million, early childhood education by $60 million, Special Education by $50 million and higher education by $82 million.

Other highlights of the plan include:

  • $1.5 million in new funding for a new pilot program to address the heroin epidemic.
  • An additional $2.8 million to combat the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza.
  • $3.4 million in new funding for the State Food Purchase Program.
  • $10 million to increase home- and community-based services for 1,075 individuals with intellectual disabilities.
  • New funding for remediating abandoned coal mining sites, hospital assessments, EMS providers and attendant care programs.

The increased education funding in this budget, and the higher percentage going to schools in the 40th Senate District, will allow school districts to hold the line on spending and prevent increases in local property taxes. I hope we can work with the House of Representatives to get a responsible budget to the governor as soon as possible. Work will begin soon on the next fiscal year budget.

Senate Sets Hearing on Kane’s Ability to Lead Office of Attorney General

On Wednesday, the Senate approved Senate Resolution 256, a measure mandating a full hearing regarding Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s ability to perform her duties with a suspended law license.

The hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Tuesday, January 12, 2016 in Hearing Room 1 of the North Office Building at the Pennsylvania Capitol Building.

The hearing is required by the state Constitution prior to any vote on direct removal. The resolution specifies that Kane or her counsel will have the right to appear before the Special Committee on Senate Address to testify, answer questions and offer evidence of her ability to perform the duties of her office with a suspended law license.

PACE COLA Exemption Extension Sent to Governor

The Senate approved legislation Thursday extending protections to seniors enrolled in PACE and PACENET who would lose eligibility for these programs due to increases in income from Social Security cost-of-living adjustments (COLA).

House Bill 777 now goes to the Governor for his signature and enactment into law. Act 12 of 2014 provides for the COLA exemption through December 31, 2015 and protects the eligibility of 11,416 senior citizens. House Bill 777 continues the exemption until Dec. 31, 2017.

Other Bills Sent to the Governor

Senate Bill 398 redesigns driver’s license and identification card applications to include the statement “Pennsylvania strongly supports organ and tissue donation because of its life-saving and life-enhancing opportunities” and the question “Do you wish to have organ donor designation printed on your driver’s license?”

House Bill 477 creates the Activities and Experiences for Children in Out-of-Home Placements Act to give foster parents the ability to approve or disapprove their foster child participating in extracurricular activities. The bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.

Senate Bill 524 establishes the Non-narcotic Medication Assisted Substance Abuse Treatment Grant Pilot Program within the Department of Corrections (DOC). It is intended to increase opportunities for counties to provide long-acting non-narcotic, non-addictive medication combined with comprehensive substance abuse treatment to eligible offenders upon release from county correctional institutions.

Senate Bill 756 eliminates the sunset provisions of the Commonwealth’s First Industries Program.

House Bill 909 authorizes county tax claim bureaus to incur and recover reasonably necessary costs for the rehabilitation and maintenance of property exposed to, but not sold at, an upset sale.

Senate Bill 1046 codifies the standards for the promotion for the Pennsylvania National Guard and ensures compliance with U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force uniform regulations. Currently, when an officer, warrant officer, or enlisted officer retires from the PA National Guard, they are automatically given an honorary in-state promotion if they meet certain criteria and apply for the promotion.

Senate Bill 1045 standardizes the term “other than dishonorable” when dealing with a veterans eligibility for programs and benefits. While this is common language used by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, without a clear definition the term has created confusion among veterans as to state benefits eligibility.

House Bill 1161 permits a licensed salesperson who is employed by a vehicle dealer who has an ownership share in more than one dealership to sell at each of those dealerships regardless of the percentage of ownership.

CHIP Reauthorization Approved by the Senate

The Senate approved legislation reauthorizing and extending the life of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) through December 31, 2017.

In addition to changing the expiration date of CHIP from December 31, 2015 to December 31, 2017, House Bill 857, as amended in the Senate, moves the administration of the program from the Department of Insurance to the Department of Human Services, addresses billing issues for ambulance services, and clarifies liability issues in cases involving auto dealership loaner vehicles.

The bill returns to the House of Representatives for concurrence on the amendment.

Bills Returned to House for Concurrence on Senate Amendments.

House Bill 1195 amends the Vehicle Code to permit motor homes and recreational trailers to be financed at lending institutions for up to 20 years.

House Bill 1603 amends the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act to deal with international child and family support orders.

House Bill 1735 amends the Tobacco Product Manufacturer Directory Act.

House Bill 1736 amends the Tobacco Settlement Agreement Act.

Bills Sent to the House for Consideration

Senate Bill 604 provides for broader allocation of proceeds from the Lake Erie fishing permit.

Senate Bill 891 waives Turnpike tolls for vehicles accompanying a fallen firefighter, ambulance service or rescue squad member, law enforcement officer or armed service member killed in the line of duty.

Senate Bill 986 extends “Good Samaritan” civil liability protection to anyone who breaks a window or forcibly enters a parked, locked vehicle in an effort to save a child.

Senate Confirms State Police Commissioner

The Senate confirmed Tyree Blocker on Wednesday to serve as Pennsylvania State Police

Commissioner. Blocker started his career with the Pennsylvania State Police in 1975 as a trooper, working in patrol, criminal investigation, staff services and the organized crime unit with Troops J, T, K, and the Bureau of Criminal Investigations. Blocker retired from the State Police in 2005 with the rank of major.

Next Week

The Senate returns to voting session on Monday. You can watch session live at

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