In this Edition:
Have a Happy Independence Day!
I hope you have a wonderful July 4th holiday with family and friends. It’s a time to celebrate the birth of our nation and to give thanks for our blessings.
July 4th Fish for Free Day
Families and friends visiting Pennsylvania’s popular outdoor spots over the Independence Day holiday weekend can enjoy a day of free fishing on July 4th, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s Fish for Free Day.
This marks the second of two free fishing days in the Commonwealth. Fish-for-Free Days allow anyone – residents and non-residents – to legally fish in Pennsylvania without a fishing license. On July 4th, no fishing license is needed to fish in Pennsylvania’s waterways. All other fishing regulations apply.
New Budget Boosts Education Funding without Broad Based Tax Increases
The General Assembly this week passed a balanced state spending plan that will boost funding for education to the highest level in state history and allocate new funds to fight the state’s opioid epidemic.
Senate Bill 1073 supports the core functions of government, and allocate $245 million in new funding for basic education, special education, and Pre-K Counts without the need for increased income or sales taxes.
Under this budget, spending goes up 1.8 percent – below the rate of inflation – when mandatory cost-drivers such as pensions are excluded.
This spending plan rejects calls for board based tax hikes and helps school districts hold the line on taxes until we can win the fight for school property tax elimination.
Legislation Extending Fire & EMS Grant Program Sent to Governor
A bill reauthorizing a popular Fire/EMS grant program for four years received final legislative approval and was sent to the Governor for his signature and enactment into law.
Under House Bill 1877, the Fire and Emergency Medical Services grant program is reauthorized to continue for an additional four years until June 30, 2020. The program receives $30 million in total funding with $25 million from the State Gaming Fund and $5 million from the Property Tax Relief Fund.
The bill would for the first time allow “career emergency medical services” to apply for grants under certain conditions. Currently, all fire companies, volunteer ambulance services and volunteer rescue squads are eligible for grant funding. The grants may be used for construction or renovation of a unit’s station, the purchase or repair of equipment, training or debt reduction. The maximum grant amount is $15,000 for fire companies and $10,000 for volunteer ambulance services.
Other Bills Sent to Governor
House Bill 59 requires that all individuals born between 1945 and 1965 be offered a hepatitis C screening or diagnostic test when treated at hospitals, health care facilities or physicians’ offices.
House Bill 60 addresses the cost disparity between intravenous and oral chemotherapy treatments.
House Bill 64 requires licensed psychologists, social workers, marriage and family therapists and professional counselors to complete at least one hour of continuing education in suicide prevention.
House Bill 898 designates Philadelphia Prison System prisoner transport units and emergency response vehicles operated by the PA Turnpike as emergency vehicles, permitting them to utilize flashing lights and sirens.
Senate Bill 917 allows for the sharing of county agency, juvenile probation, drug and alcohol, mental health and education records in certain cases involving juveniles.
House Bill 1062 amends the Human Services Code to phase out the county share, extend the nursing facility budget adjustment factor, extend certain assessments, extend the Medical Assistance (MA) day-one incentive payment, extend child welfare provider submissions, suspend MA coverage for incarcerated individuals, eliminate the requirement of solely dedicated assisted living licensure staff, and move the eHealth Partnership Authority to the Department of Human Services.
Senate Bill 1104 implements changes from a June 2010 report issued by the Joint State Government Commission entitled, “The Probate, Estates and Fiduciaries Code: Proposed Amendments to Title 20 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes.”
Senate Bill 1123 corrects a regulatory issue relating to gasoline in Pennsylvania.
House Bill 1167 adds a new section to the Crime Victims Act concerning a state income tax intercept. It requires the Department of Revenue to deduct court-ordered obligations owed by a taxpayer from any tax refund due the taxpayer, notify the taxpayer that the deduction has been made, and pay any amount remaining to the taxpayer.
Senate Bill 1194 removes the sunset date of June 30, 2016 from the “State Military College Legislative Appointment Initiative.” Act 29 of 2012 allows members of the General Assembly to appoint annually an eligible student from their legislative districts.
House Bill 1335 removes the requirement in state law that the Turnpike Commission must install and maintain emergency telephones every two miles on both sides of the Turnpike.
House Bill 1871 amends the state Constitution to permit Philadelphia to impose varying tax rates on real estate based on use.
Senate Approves Bill to Ease Substitute Teacher Shortage
The Senate passed legislation on Thursday that would address the growing problem of the shortage of substitute teachers available for school districts.
Some school districts have been reporting vacancy ‘fill’ rates of only 70 percent on any given day, and some areas have opted to outsource their substitutes or have been left with no choice but to request frequent emergency permits for day-to-day substitutes, which interrupts the learning process and cuts into precious instructional time.
Senate Bill 1312 allows college students who have completed 60 credit hours and who are enrolled in a teacher preparation program at a four-year college in Pennsylvania to substitute for a limited number of days in any school district in the Commonwealth.
The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Other Bills Approved by the Senate and Sent to the House of Representatives
Senate Bill 141 amends the Real Estate Seller Disclosure Law to require disclosure of a property's flood history.
Senate Bill 289 authorizes, but does not require, a municipality or municipal authority to use public funds for the improvement, extension, repair or rehabilitation of private lateral sewer lines connected to sewage disposal systems.
Senate Bill 613 gives each of Pennsylvania’s counties the opportunity to participate in the Human Services Development Block Grant by removing the statutory limit.
Senate Bill 666 amends the Uniform Planned Community Act to provide more transparency for homeowner’s associations.
Senate Bill 691 increases a retailer’s presumptive minimum cost of administering the cigarette tax.
Senate Bill 703 enacts the Plumbing Contractor Licensure Act by establishing the State Board of Plumbing Contractors within the Department of Labor and Industry.
House Bill 871 allows for the de-titling of vehicles which are recycled by a scrap metal processor. The bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.
House Bill 967 establishes an agricultural pilot program for industrial hemp research. The bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.
Senate Bill 1018 makes several changes to the CPA Law.
Senate Bill 1221 reforms the Pittsburgh Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority.
Senate Bill 1226 would streamline and improve the Pennsylvania Veterans Trust Fund and ensure that it continues to provide assistance to those who have served in uniform.
Senate Bill 1265 gives employers the option to pay an employees' wages in the form of a debit card.
Senate Bill 1267 enhances the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s Municipal Signal Partnership Program known as Green Light-Go.
Senate Bill 1282 clarifies the manner in which a county Recorders of Deeds Office may charge fees for the recording of amendments to declarations of condominiums, cooperatives and planned communities.
Senate Bill 1311 brings Pennsylvania into compliance with federal requirements under the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act by addressing parents who have committed child sexual abuse and the treatment of children victimized by human trafficking.
House Bill 1947 addresses criminal and civil actions regarding childhood sexual assault.
Senate Confirms State Adjutant General
The Senate confirmed Brigadier General Anthony Carrelli as Adjutant General of the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs on Wednesday.
In this cabinet-level position with the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, headquartered at Fort Indiantown Gap, Brig. Gen. Carrelli is responsible for command, control and supervision of National Guard units – Army and Air – allocated to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, six state-owned veterans’ homes and programs for Pennsylvania’s approximately 916,000 veterans.
Appellate, County Court Judges Confirmed by Senate
Pennsylvania’s appellate court benches added six new judges Monday when the state Senate confirmed nominations for those judicial vacancies. The confirmations included: Sallie Mundy for Supreme Court; Carl A. Solano, Lillian Harris Ransom and Hugh Geoffrey Moulton, Jr. for Superior Court; and Joseph Cosgrove and Julia Hearthway for Commonwealth Court.
The Senate also confirmed several County Court of Common Pleas Judges on Wednesday: David L. Spurgeon (Allegheny); Jill Gehman Koestel (Berks); Jeffrey G. Trauger (Bucks); Lori K. Serratelli (Dauphin); Julia K. Munley (Lackawanna); Daniel K. McCarthy (Lehigh); Joseph P. Walsh (Montgomery); Lucretia C. Clemons, Vincent W. Furlong, Roger F. Gordon, Vincent N. Melchiorre, Daniel R. Sulman and Stella M. Tsai (Philadelphia); Damon J. Faldowski (Washington); and Christy H. Fawcett and Kathleen J. Prendergast (York).
The Senate will likely reconvene on Tuesday to finish work on the 2016-17 state budget. You can watch session live at PASenateGOP.com.
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