The Senate Appropriations Committee met on 06-21-2018 and took the indicated actions on the following seven bills:
SB 668 (Gordner). Favorably reported, 16-9. This bill would amend the Optometric Practice and Licensure Act to expand the scope of practice for optometrists. Optometric practice would include all means and methods for examining, diagnosing and treating eye conditions except injections into the globe, refractive or therapeutic surgery with a laser or surgery with a scalpel, scissors or cryoprobe; and would allow the prescription and administration of all federally or state-approved drugs for eye diseases and conditions other than Schedule I and II substances. No fiscal impact is anticipated on commonwealth funds.
SB 1095 (McGarrigle). Favorably reported, unanimously. This bill would amend the Public School Code to provide alternative graduation requirements to the Keystone Exams. It would extend the moratorium on the Keystone Exams until the 2020-2021 school year. When a Keystone Exam is required for graduation, a student could qualify instead by meeting local grade requirements and completing one of seven specified alternatives. Among these are an advanced placement program exam score comparable to the proficient level in a Keystone Exam, an Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery Test score that qualifies for military enlistment; certification of post-graduate participation in a registered apprenticeship, admission or a scholarship to an accredited nonprofit institution of higher education, or other evidence of competence approved by the chief school administrator. Beginning in FY 2021-2022, the Secretary of Education would be required to report the number of students graduating through an alternative established by this legislation. The projected fiscal impact to commonwealth fund is $125,000 annually, plus one-time costs of approximately $325,000.
HB 863 (Rothman). Favorably reported, unanimously. This bill would amend the Real Estate Licensing and Registration Act relating to sales agents and brokers. Among the changes, a high school diploma or its equivalent, and a minimum of 75 hours training over five years would be required to sit for the sales license exam, and broker price opinions of the probable selling price of a property would be formally authorized in limited circumstances. No fiscal impact is anticipated on commonwealth funds.
HB 1782 (Delozier). Favorably reported, unanimously. This bill would amend Title 66 of the Consolidated Statutes (Public Utilities) to provide for alternative rate-setting mechanisms. Alternative mechanisms may be approved in a base rate proceeding, and include decoupling, performance-based, formula rates, multi-year rate plans or combinations of any of these. Capital costs and expenses recovered through alternative rates must be reasonable and prudently incurred for the provision of services. No fiscal impact is anticipated on commonwealth funds.
HB 1851 (Pickett). Favorably reported, as amended, unanimously. This bill would amend the Insurance Department Act to require the Insurance Department to follow best practices for examining insurance companies. Among these, the Department would be required to conduct pre-examination conferences with a company to discuss the scope, costs and other matters relating to the examination; prepare a detailed budget estimate for the examination and to produce a detailed annual report of examinations conducted during the preceding fiscal year. An amendment offered in committee by Senator Argall would statutorily establish the Pennsylvania Professional Liability Joint Underwriting Association within the Department of Insurance . No fiscal impact is anticipated on commonwealth funds.
HB 2133 (Watson). Favorably reported, unanimously. This bill would establish the stand-alone Kinship Caregiver Navigator Program Act. The Department of Human Services would be required to establish the program as an information resource for persons raising grandchildren outside the child welfare system. The program would include a public website, toll-free telephone number and statewide marketing campaign. The estimated fiscal impact is $2.25 million to the commonwealth and $1.05 million in federal funding.
HB 2477 (Watson). Favorably reported, 24-1. This bill would amend the Medical Marijuana Act. A new chapter (20) would be added to the Act to provide further for the licensing of marijuana growing, processing and dispensing as part of clinical research programs. No fiscal impact is expected to the Commonwealth.
The Senate Appropriations Committee met on 06-20-2018 and took the indicated actions on the following bills:
HB 153 (Knowles). Reported favorably 22-4. This would amend the state Constitution to reduce the number of members in the House of Representatives to 151 from 203. Advertising costs for the required referendum following second session passage are projected at $1 million to $1.5 million. The proposed reduction is projected to result in annual savings of $13 million to $16 million.
HB 2078 (Markosek). Unanimously reported. This appropriates $49,723,000 from the General Fund Professional Licensure Augmentation Account to the Department of State for FY 2018-2019 operations of the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs, including the State Athletic Commission; and additional amounts from restricted receipt accounts for operations of the boards of Medicine, Osteopathic Medicine, Podiatry and the Athletic Commission.
HB 2079 (Markosek). Unanimously reported. This appropriates $71,215,000 from the Workers Compensation Administration Fund to the Department of Labor and Industry for FY 2018-2019 administration of the Workers Compensation Act and Pennsylvania Occupational Disease Act.
HB 2080 (Markosek). Unanimously reported. This appropriates $1,855,000 from the General Fund restricted revenue account to the Office of Small Business Advocate in the Department of Community and Economic Development for FY 2018-2019.
HB 2081 (Markosek). Unanimously reported. This appropriates $5,850,000 from a General Fund restricted revenue account to the Office of Consumer Advocate in the Office of Attorney General for FY 2018-2019.
HB 2082 (Markosek). Unanimously reported. This appropriates $51,637,000 from the PSERS Fund and $4,950,000 from the PSERS Defined Contribution Fund to the Public School Employees Retirement Board for FY 2018-2019 expenses and remaining unpaid bills from FY 2018-2018.
HB 2083 (Markosek). Unanimously reported. This appropriates $30,766,000 from the SERS Fund and $4,901,000 from the SERS Defined Contribution Fund to the State Employees Retirement Board for FY 2018-2019 expenses and remaining unpaid bills from FY 2017-2018.
HB 2084 (Markosek). Unanimously reported. This appropriates $2,935,000 from the Philadelphia Taxicab and Limousine Regulatory Fund and $200,000 from the Philadelphia Taxicab Medallion Fund to the Philadelphia Parking Authority for FY 2018-2019 operations.
HB 2085 (Markosek). Unanimously reported. This appropriates $74,185,000 from a General Fund restricted revenue account and $6,067,000 in federal funds to the Public Utility Commission for FY 2018-2019 operations.
HB 2086 (Markosek). Unanimously reported. This appropriates for FY 2018-2019 $84,875,000 from the state Gaming Fund for Gaming Control Board, Department of Revenue, State Police and Attorney General operations relating to the Race Horse Development and Gaming Act; $1,859,000 from the Fantasy Contest Fund to the Department of Revenue and Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board; and $2,856,000 from the Video Gaming Fund to the Gaming Control Board and Department of Revenue.
HB 2121 (Saylor). Reported favorably 25-1. This is the General Appropriation Act of 2018. For FY 2018-2019, it appropriates $32,092,325,000 in state funds and $27,743,772,000 in federal funds for the general operations and programs of state government, and $4,066,646,000 in state and $12,683,000 in federal appropriations for various special funds.
HB 2242 (Saylor). Unanimously reported. This is the FY 2018-2019 non-preferred appropriation to Pennsylvania State University in the total amount of $260,085,000. Of this, $237,349,000 is for general support of Penn State and $22,736,000 is for Penn College of Technology.
HB 2243 (Saylor). Unanimously reported. This is the FY 2018-2019 non-preferred appropriation for the University of Pittsburgh in the amount of $148,536,000 for general support and of $2,846,000 for Rural Education Outreach.
HB 2244 (Saylor). Unanimously reported. This is the FY 2018-2019 non-preferred appropriation for Temple University in the amount of $155,104,000 for general support.
HB 2245 (Saylor). Unanimously reported. This is the FY 2018-2019 non-preferred appropriation for Lincoln University in the amount of $14,869,000.
HB 2246 (Saylor). Unanimously reported. This is the FY 2018-2019 non-preferred appropriation for the University of Pennsylvania in the amount of $31,039,000 for veterinary activities and $289,000 for the Center for Infectious Diseases.
The Appropriations Committee met on 9-19-18 and took the actions indicated on the following eight bills:
SB 595 (Folmer). Reported unanimously. This bill would amend Title 57 of the Consolidated Statutes (Notaries Public) to authorize the notarization and official recording of electronic records, and notarization for attestors who are not in the notary’s physical presence. A minimal impact of $8,000 for promulgating new regulations in FY 2019-2020 is expected.
HB 594 (Benninghoff). Reported unanimously. This bill would amend Title 18 of the Consolidated Statutes (Crimes and Offenses) to prohibit the use of Accelerated Rehabilitative Dispositions (ARDs) for rape, involutary deviate sexual intercourse and aggravated indecent assault offenses when the victim was younger than 18. No adverse fiscal impact is expected.
HB 644 (Baker). Reported unanimously. This bill would amend the Community-based Health Care Act to remove the cap on its funding share for federally qualified health centers (FQHCs). Currently FQHCs can receive no more than 25% of Act funds. No adverse fiscal impact is expected.
HB 864 (Mustio). Reported 24-2. This bill would amend the Small Games of Chance Act. Airport Authorities would be authorized to permit daily 50/50 drawings in areas open to ticketed passengers for the benefit of identified, federally recognized charitable organizations. Various other changes would be made, including eliminating the weekly aggregated cap of $35,000 for prize drawings, and changes affecting club licensees and organizations required to maintain separate bank accounts. No adverse fiscal impact is expected.
HB 1124 (Mustio). Reported unanimously. This bill would amend Title 18 of the Consolidated Statutes (Crimes and Offenses). The new offense of Abuse of Care-Dependent Person would be established, graded from a first-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony for intentionally or knowingly striking, harassing, threatening or stalking a care-dependent person. The existing offense of Neglect of Care-Dependent Person would be clarified to apply where the victim dies as a result of neglect, and to increase the grading for reckless conduct. The departments of Aging, Health and Human Services would be required to report to law enforcement any conduct that violates either offense. Minor fiscal impacts are expected to be absorbed within existing agency appropriations.
HB 1419 (Delozier). Reported unanimously. This bill would amend Title 18 of the Consolidated Statutes (Crimes and Offenses). New limits are placed on the issuance by courts of Orders of Limited Access for criminal records based on the offense and elapsed time following conviction; and on circumstance where an order can prevent access. A new Clean Slate Limited Access would be established for charges disposed of other than by conviction and for summary or non-violent misdemeanor convictions. No adverse fiscal impact is expected. Additional expenses are anticipated to be absorbed in current appropriations.
HB 1550 (Klunk). Reported unanimously. This bill would amend the Agricultural Area Security Law retroactively to December 14, 1988. The bill would clarify that a total of only one residence may be constructed on land subject to an agricultural conservation easement for the principal landowner, an immediate family member or an employee; that property subject to such an easement may be subdivided for a residence, whether existing or to be constructed; and that these rights may be waived as part of the easement. No adverse impact on Commonwealth funds is projected.
HB 1898 (Santora). Reported unanimously. This bill would amend the Board of Vehicles Act. It provides for auto manufacturers to reimburse new car dealerships the full cost of repairs on recalled vehicles; requires new and used dealers to disclose outstanding recall notices to prospective purchasers; prohibits manufacturers from requiring their licensed dealers to remodel facilities sooner than every 10 years, except for health, safety or technological reasons; authorizes temporary 45-day licenses for new vehicle dealers; and authorizes dealers to charge purchaser fees related to mandated privacy requirements, financial services and preparation and retrieval of documents. Minimal fiscal impact is anticipated as increased Department of State licensing costs are expected to be recovered by increased dealership fees.
The Senate Appropriations Committee met on 6-18-18 and took the actions indicated for the following six bills:
SB 945 (Brooks). Unanimously approved. This bill would amend Title 75 of the Consolidated Statutes (Motor Vehicles) to authorize a checkoff on biennial vehicle registrations for $6 donations to the Veterans Trust Fund. There now is a $3 option on annual registrations. No adverse fiscal impact is projected.
SB 1001 (Costa). Unanimously approved. This bill would create the freestanding Public Health Emergency Act. It would provide for the declaration of a public health emergency by the Secretary of Health for periods of up to 90 days, which would, among other things, enable temporary suspension of Department of Health regulations, adoption of temporary regulations and reporting and management requirements for diseases, infections and conditions; and authorize public health workers to dispense and provide prescriptions in response to the disease or condition. No adverse fiscal impact is projected.
SB 1172 (Vulakovich). Unanimously approved. This bill would amend the Price Gouging Act to authorize the governor to impose a 15-day restriction(renewable for up to three additional periods) on price increases for necessary consumer goods and services in a defined geographic area under a declared state of disaster emergency, preempting local laws and regulations. The sale of affected goods and services at “unconscionably excessive” prices would be prohibited, while increases falling within four defined categories set by the bill are declared to be not “unconscionably excessive.” The exclusive penalty would be a $10,000 civil fine for each willful violation of the Act, not exceeding $25,000 in a single 24-hour period. No adverse fiscal impact is projected.
HB 1232 (Murt). Unanimously approved. This bill would amend Title 23 of the Consolidated Statutes (Domestic Relations) to require a toll-free telephone number for reporting child abuse and school safety matters to be posted in high-traffic areas of all schools with classes K-12; to extend the period for which general protective services reports are maintained in the Department of Human Services database to the longer of 10 years or until attainment the youngest child named in the most recent report turns 23, from five years now; to authorize county child protection agencies to maintain information expunged from the DHS database for risk and safety assessments and research; to exempt persons who have resided in the Commonwealth for the previous 10 years from the requirement for a federal background clearance to participate in internships, externships, work-study and similar programs through a school; and to comply with federal requirements by replacing the risk and safety assessment required when a child under one year old is identified with prenatal drug exposure or fetal alcohol syndrome with a Plan of Safe Care under written protocols to be developed by DHS, and to require health care provider to notify the department of such circumstances without constituting a report of child abuse. No adverse fiscal impact is expected; additional duties are anticipated to be covered by existing operating budgets.
HB 1239 (Marshall). Unanimously approved. This bill would amend Title 75 of the Consolidated Statutes (Motor Vehicles) to penalize driving without a proper license. Driving a class or type of vehicle not authorized by the operator’s license would carry a fine of up to $200. The fine would be reduced to $25 if the operator had a proper licensed for the type or class of vehicle that expired within the previous six months. Operators would have 15 days to produce a license for the type or class of vehicle or proof that such a license is lost, stolen, destroyed or illegible, before they could be charged. No adverse fiscal impact is projected.
HB 1346 (Pyle). Unanimously approved. This bill would amend titles 18 and 53 of the Consolidated Statutes (Crimes and Offenses, and Municipalities) to provide for the unlawful use of drones. The new offense of Unlawful use of unmanned Aircraft would forbid the use of drones to surveil people in private locations, in a manner that creates reasonable fear of bodily injury or to deliver contraband to prisons or mental hospitals. Local ordinance regulating ownership or operation of drones would be pre-empted. Violations of the prohibited uses would generally be summary offenses subject to fines of up to $300; violations involving delivery of contraband would be a felony of the second degree (maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and $25,000 fine). The projected fiscal impact on the state would depend on the number of prosecutions resulting in imprisonment. Fewer than 300 felony convictions would not require additional corrections personnel.
The Senate Appropriations Committee met on 6-13-18 and reported out the following bills:
SB 780 (Vogel). Unanimously approved. This bill would establish the independent Telemedicine Act, authorizing health care providers to deliver health care services to patients at locations physically distant from the provider. Licensing boards with jurisdiction over professions covered by the Act would be charged with promulgating relevant regulations within 24 months of the effective date, and temporary regulations within 120 days of the effective date. Health insurance policies would be required to provide coverage for telemedicine consistent with the coverage policy for other services. The projected public for FY 2018-2019 is slightly more than $1 million.
SB 819 (Aument). Unanimously approved. This bill would amend the Agricultural Area Security Law, providing that agricultural conservations easements would not restrict an owner’s right to conduct agritourism activities. The activities must be incidental to a farm’s agricultural use, not prevent conserved land from being immediately converted to agricultural use and have been approved as an agritourism activity by the county agricultural land preservation board. No adverse impact to state funds is projected.
SB 934 (Baker). Unanimously approved. This bill would amend the Administrative Code to establish the Elevator Safety Board to consider regulations, appeals, variances and other business relating to elevator safety. No adverse fiscal impact is projected.
HB 56 (Watson). Unanimously approved. This bill would amend Title 23 of the Consolidated Statutes (Domestic Relations) to mandate information to be provided to birth parents in regard to adoption proceedings and parents’ rights and responsibilities. A $75 filing fee on adoption proceedings would be established to fund county-based adoption-related counselling services. No adverse fiscal impact is projected.
HB 994 (Grove). Unanimously approved. This bill would amend the Tax Reform Code of 1971 to clarify that the state gross receipts tax does not apply to sales of telephones and related devices and accessories, including modems, tablets, cases, screen protectors, etc… No adverse fiscal impact is projected.
HB 1659 (Tobash). Approved 19-7 along party lines. This bill would amend the Human Services Code to require General Assembly approval before the Department of Human Services (DHS) may seek to continue a waiver of federally mandated work requirements in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). DHS also would be required to notify SNAP recipients and County Assistance Offices that benefits would be terminated if the work requirements are not met. The fiscal impact would depend on variable circumstances. As an example, If a quarter of current SNAP recipients met the requirements by public training programs, the cost is projected at $25.9 million; if a quarter of those recipients also required daycare assistance, there would be an additional cost of $15.8 million.
HB 1677 (Ortitay). Unanimously approved. This bill would make amendments of a technical nature to the Human Services Code and is also a likely budget package vehicle. No fiscal impact is projected.
HB 1738 (Marsico). Unanimously approved. This bill would amend Title 42 of the Consolidated Statutes (Judiciary) to authorize non-municipal police to act outside their physical jurisdictions during hot pursuit; acting in response to assistance requests by other law enforcement agency, or with probable cause to believe other officers need assistance; or after witnessing a felony or misdemeanor offense or another act presenting a clear and immediate danger to a person or property, if they make reasonable efforts to identify themselves as police officers. No adverse fiscal impact is projected.
HB 1979 (Schemel). Unanimously approved. This bill would amend Title 42 of the Consolidated Statutes (Judiciary) to remove the statutory sunset on the provision establishing a 20-year statute of limitations on legal actions relating to instruments under seal. The provision is set to expire on June 27, 2018 and in its absence actions on instruments under seal would be subject to an abbreviated statute of limitations for contracts generally.
HB 2138 (Dowling). Approved 17-9 on party lines. This bill would amend the Human Services Code to impose work and training mandates in order to qualify for medical assistance (Medicaid) benefits. The Department of Human Services (DHS) would be required to seek a waiver from federal rules that prohibit work and training requirements, and to impose eligibility requirements of 20 hours of weekly employment or 12 job training-related activities monthly. Non-compliance would result in successively longer periods of disqualification, increasing from three months in the second year of Medicaid enrollment to nine months in the fourth year of enrollment. There are nine identified categories of applicants and enrollees who would be excused from the mandates, including full-time high school students, persons on long-term disability and primary caregivers for children 6 and younger.
The Senate Appropriations Committee met on 6-4-18 and reported out the following bills:
SB 859 (Greenleaf). Unanimously approved. This bill would amend the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency Law, to codify within the commission its current Mental Health and Justice Advisory Committee at up to 33 members appointed by the governor for not more than two four-year terms to advise the commission on matters relating to treatment and services within the juvenile and criminal justice systems for persons with mental illnesses. A Mental Health and Justice Grant program would also be established within PCCD for initiatives that increase public safety, avert increased criminal justice spending, and improve effective treatment for persons with mental health and substance abuse disorders. No fiscal impact is anticipated since this is codification of an existing program.
SB 860 (Greenleaf). Unanimously approved. This bill would establish the free-standing Criminal Justice and Addiction Treatment Act, requiring the Department of Corrections (DOC), in consultation with the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP), to use DDAP-certified addiction treatment services for DOC inmates, and to ensure their pre-release plans provide for transition to integrated reentry services, including Medicaid enrollment effective on release from prison. DDAP would be responsible to develop competency standards on substance use for incorporation into medical school curricula, residency training and licensing and continuing education requirements; and to condition funding through DDAP for treatment facilities on the use of evidence-based or -informed practices. Courts would be required to direct defendants to preliminary substance and addiction screenings at arraignment. The projected fiscal impact for FY 2018-2019 is $703,184 for additional staffing and support in DDAP.
SB 884 (Greenelaf). Unanimously approved. This bill would comprehensively amend guardianship provisions of Title 20 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statues (the Estates Code). Revisions would be prospective only, and would not affect guardianships established prior to changes to the law. They include changes to the processes for appointing, removing and discharging a guardian; to qualification standards for service as guardian and for what constitutes conflicts of interest; and to guardianship powers and duties, including authorizing guardians to have the same decision-making power as a healthcare representative may have. No adverse fiscal impact is projected.
SB 922 (Langerholc). Unanimously approved. This bill would amend Titles 35 (Health and Safety), 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure ) and 61 (Prisons and Public Safety) of the Consolidated Statutes to establish the Non-narcotic Medication Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Treatment Program. The program would provide for grants to Single County Authorities (SCAs), dependent upon specific annual appropriation, for SCAs to contract with providers for assessment and treatment of offenders, including through non-narcotic medication-assisted treatment under criteria and regulations set by DDAP. DDAP is to report annually to the legislature on the program. The fiscal impact is estimated at $3.2 million by DDAP for staff, benefits and operating costs.
SB 1003 (White). Unanimously approved. This bill would amend the Insurance Company Law of 1921 to require managed care plans to reimburse emergency medical service providers regardless whether the patient is transported to a hospital. No fiscal impact is expected for the current fiscal year, but the Department of Human Services projects a $2.47-million cost for fiscal 2018-2019, with state costs dependent on the level of federal reimbursement.
SB 1037 (Folmer). Unanimously approved. This bill would amend Title 71 (State Government) of the Consolidated Statutes to transfer responsibilities for merit-based hiring, and civil service applications, certification, examinations and promotions to the Office of Administration from the Civil Service Commission nine months after enactment. No fiscal impact is projected.
SB 1132 (Greenleaf). Unanimously approved. This bill would amend Title 44 (Law and Justice) of the Consolidated Statutes to establish the Pennsylvania Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission and the Alternative Dispute Resolution Fund. The commission, which would be authorized to facilitate development of affordable, quality alternative dispute resolution programs, would have a 17-member board of uncompensated directors including the Chief Justice, four legislative members appointed by caucus leaders, and seven members appointed by the Chief Justice and five members appointed by the governor. Gubernatorial appointments would be for two-year terms; other appointed terms would be for three years. No fiscal impact is projected for FY 2017-2018, and a minimum cost of $344,574 for personnel and reimbursable expenses is projected for fiscal year 2018-2019.
HB 564 (Boback). Unanimously approved. This will would amend the Pubic School Code to require public and charter school to test student’s knowledge at least once in grades 7-12 of U.S. history, government and civics beginning with the 2020-2021 school year. Schools would be responsible to determine the tests they use, including the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Test. A certificate of recognition would require a perfect score. Results would be posted annually on the Department of Education website. Minimal fiscal impact is projected.
The Senate Appropriations Committee met on 5-22-18 and reported out the following bills:
SB 257 (Ward). Favorably reported. This would amend the Insurance Company Law of 1921 to authorize in-network vision service providers to make referrals or recommendations to out-of-network vision material suppliers when the patient is notified that the supplier is out-of-network, that the costs could be different than with an in-network supplier, and that the patient may use an in-network supplier instead. Also, insurers would be prohibited from requiring in-network providers to accept insurers’ discounts for non-covered services. No adverse fiscal impact is projected for Commonwealth funds.
SB 357 (Tomlinson). Favorably reported. This would amend Title 18 of the Consolidated Statutes, the Crimes Code, to add a new offense of Aggravated Assault by a Person in Custody. It would be a third-degree felony for a person in law enforcement custody to knowingly or intentionally attempt to cause or to cause another person to come into contact with human bodily fluids or waste. No adverse fiscal impact is expected on Commonwealth funds.
SB 652 (Regan). Favorably reported. This would amend Title 18 of the Consolidated Statutes, the Crimes Code, to add a subsection to the offense of Criminal Trespass relating distinctly to “critical infrastructure facilities”. Critical infrastructure facilities are 21 defined types of facilities: petroleum or alumina refineries; electric power facilities and infrastructure; chemical, polymer or rubber manufacturing facilities; water intake treatment or collection infrastructure; natural gas compressor stations; liquid natural gas terminals or storage facilities; telecommunication terminals or facilities; wireless and wireline telecommunications infrastructure; ports and rail and trucking transportation facilities; gas processing plants; radio and television transmission facilities; steelmaking facilities with electric arc furnaces; facilities regulated by the federal Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards program; federally or state-regulated dams; natural gas transmission or distribution facilities; crude or refined oil products storage and distribution facilities; aboveground oil, gas, hazardous liquids or chemical pipelines; oil and gas production facilities; natural gas, oil or refined products pipelines (above and underground); equipment used to construct critical infrastructure facilities and energy facilities as defined by 18 United States Code section 1366 (c) that are conspicuously posted or enclosed against trespass. Adult violations would be graded as third- to first-class felonies, with mandatory minimum fines and maximum sentences of imprisonment set below those provided for other felony crimes, and dependent on the nature of the violation and the record of prior violations. Violations by minors would be classed as third- to first-degree misdemeanors, again dependent on the nature of the violation and the record of prior violations. No adverse fiscal impact is expected on Commonwealth funds.
SB 1092 (Mensch). Favorably reported. This would amend Title 42 of the Consolidated Statutes, the Judicial Code, to require the Pennsylvania Sentencing Commission to provide an enhanced sentence guideline for convictions of Simple Assault or Aggravated Assault that are committed against a family or household member and are seen or heard by a minor family or household member. No adverse fiscal impact is expected on Commonwealth funds.
HB 126 (Baker). Favorably reported. This would create the free-standing Epinephrine Auto-Injector Entity Act, permitting Authorized Entities to acquire and store quantities of epinephrine auto-injectors for use by designated employees or agents trained to employ them in an anaphylactic emergency. Good Samaritan protections would be provided to authorized entities, designated employees and agents, and to the prescribing health care practitioners. Authorized entities are defined as entities or organizations where allergens capable of causing anaphylaxis might be present and that have a trained employee or agent. The definition excludes school entities and non-public schools as defined by the Public School Code, which are similarly authorized by different legal provisions No adverse fiscal impact is expected on Commonwealth funds.
HB 1917 (Ryan). Favorably reported. This would amend Title 22 of the Consolidated Statutes, pertaining to Detectives and Private Police, increasing the requirements for service as humane society police officers (HSPOs). HSPOs would be required to be Pennsylvania residents, register biennially with the Department of Agriculture, and meet increased initial training requirements of 40 hours (vs. 36) in law enforcement and 40 hours (vs. 24) in care and treatment of agricultural animals, as well as 16 hours (vs. 10) of continuing education every two years. Revocation for cause of an HSPO appointment in another county or state would be grounds to deny or revoke appointment in a county. No adverse fiscal impact is expected on Commonwealth funds as any increase in expenses would be borne by the individual HSPO or related organization.
The Senate Appropriations Committee met on 5-21-18 and reported out the following bills:
SB 655 (Yaw). Favorably reported. This bill would amend the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act to establish a 25-member Pennsylvania Safe and Effective Opioid Prescribing Advisory Council within the Department of Health (DOH), composed of the Physician General; Secretaries (or their designees) of Health and Human Services, Drug and Alcohol Programs, Aging, and State; and gubernatorially appointed representatives of various organizations and groups, including physicians, hospitals and health systems, dentists, nursing professionals, Department of Military and Veteran Affairs, regional health care providers and a regional health care provider of osteopathic medicine in Southeastern Pennsylvania, for staggered three-year terms. The council would meet at least semi-annually, with administrative support provided by DOH to recommend guidelines for the prescription of opioids which DOH shall promulgate as regulations. Minimal fiscal impact is projected and is anticipated to be covered within current appropriation levels.
SB 771 (McGarrigle). Favorably reported. This bill would amend requirements in Titles 8 and 11 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes – respectively, Boroughs and Incorporated Towns, and Third-class Cities – of municipal financial information required to be published in general circulation newspapers, making the information consistent with requirements established for Second Class Townships in 2016. No adverse impact on Commonwealth funds is expected, and it is expected to reduce local advertising costs while maintaining financial transparency.
SB 772 (McGarrigle). Favorably reported. This bill would amend requirements in the First-Class Township Code for publication in general circulation newspapers of mandated annual financial information and to make it available to public examination at a designated location, making the requirements consistent with those established for Second Class Townships in 2016. No adverse impact on Commonwealth funds is projected, and it is expected to reduce local advertising costs while maintaining financial transparency.
SB 773 (McGarrigle). Favorably reported. This bill would amend requirements of the Incorporated Towns Law for publication in general circulation newspapers of mandated annual financial information and to make it available to public examination at a designated location, making the requirements consistent with those established for Second Class Townships in 2016. No adverse impact on Commonwealth funds is anticipated, and it is anticipated to reduce local advertising costs while maintaining financial transparency.
SB 801 (Hutchinson). Favorably reported. This bill would amend Titles 8 and 11 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes – respectively, Boroughs and Incorporated Towns, and Third-Class Cities – to exempt the sale of personal property by volunteer fire, ambulance and rescue services to a municipality from advertising, bidding and price requirements. No adverse impact on Commonwealth funds is expected, and it is expected to reduce local municipal expenses for advertising and bidding requirements.
SB 802 (Hutchinson). Favorably reported. This bill would amend the First-Class Township Code to exempt the sale of personal property by volunteer fire, ambulance and rescue services to a municipality from advertising, bidding and price requirements. No adverse impact on Commonwealth funds is expected, and it is expected to reduce local municipal expenses for advertising and bidding requirements.
SB 803 (Hutchinson). Favorably reported. This bill would amend the Second-Class Township Code to exempt the sale of personal property by volunteer fire, ambulance and rescue services to a municipality from advertising, bidding and price requirements. No adverse impact on Commonwealth funds is expected, and it is expected to reduce local municipal expenses for advertising and bidding requirements.
SB 804 (Hutchinson). Favorably reported. This bill would amend the Incorporated Towns Law to exempt the sale of personal property by volunteer fire, ambulance and rescue services to a municipality from advertising, bidding and price requirements. No adverse impact on Commonwealth funds is expected, and it is expected to reduce local municipal expenses for advertising and bidding requirements.
SB 947 (Hutchinson). Favorably reported. This bill would amend Titles 8 and 11 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes – respectively, Boroughs and Incorporated Towns, and Third-Class Cities – to increase the value of municipal personal property that may be sold or disposed of without public advertisement to $2,000 from $1,000. No adverse impact on Commonwealth funds is expected, and it is expected to reduce local municipal advertising expense.
SB 948 (Hutchinson). Favorably reported. This bill would amend the First-Class Township Code to increase the value of municipal personal property that may be sold or disposed of without public advertisement to $2,000 from $1,000. No adverse impact on Commonwealth funds is expected, and it is expected to reduce local municipal advertising expense.
SB 949 (Hutchinson). Favorably reported. This bill would amend the Incorporated Towns Law to increase the value of municipal personal property that may be sold or disposed of without public advertisement to $2,000 from $1,000. No adverse impact on Commonwealth funds is expected, and it is expected to reduce local municipal advertising expense.
SB 1005 (Eichelberger). Favorably reported. This is a comprehensive update and consolidation of The County Code, including incorporation of the Second Class County Code as it pertains to Second Class A counties, to reflect current case law; current practices, standards and requirements; to improve consistency and to remove archaic language and terms. No adverse impact on Commonwealth funds is expected, and the modernization, consistency and flexibility are expected to reduce local expense.
SB 1047 (Costa). Favorably reported. This would amend the intergovernmental Cooperation Authority Act for Cities of the Second Class to require immediate certification by the Department of Community and Economic Development that the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority in Pittsburgh is no longer needed, and the dissolution of the authority. No adverse impact is projected to the Commonwealth. Pittsburgh is expected to see a savings of $200,000 through June 2019.
SB 1104 (Aument). Favorably reported. This would amend the Public School Code pertaining to the requirements to become a vocational-instructor. The experience requirement would be increased to four years from two. The credit hours requirement would be reduced to 18. The duration of a certificate would be increased to eight years from six. The Department of Education also would be required to form an advisory committee to review certification program requirements on a five-year cycle. No adverse impact is expected on Commonwealth funds.
SB 1127 (Aument). Favorably reported. This would amend Titles 18 and 62 of the Consolidated Statutes, respectively, the Crimes and Procurement codes, to increase penalties for fraudulent trafficking in food assistance (SNAP cards). The grading for an offense would be increased to a second-degree felony when the fraud is valued at $2,500 or more and offenders could be required to repay up to three times the value of a fraud amount, and would be subject to loss of any commercial license issued by the Commonwealth or a municipality and of the right to receive a public contract. It is expected that the change would result in Commonwealth savings of between $451,000 and $676,000 during FY 2018-2019 and a decreased demand for General Funds to support the program.
SB 1142 (Browne). Favorably reported. This would establish the independent Safe2Say Act, providing for anonymous reports of unsafe and other criminal activities in schools and school activities to the Office of Attorney General for referral to appropriate investigative agencies. Reports would be exempt from Right-to-Know requirements and unauthorized disclosure would be a first-degree misdemeanor. The expected cost of the program for a full year would be $1,155,433 for software and staffing.
HB 99 (Zimmerman). Favorably reported. This would amend Title 8 of the Consolidated Statutes (Boroughs and Incorporated Towns) to exempt purchases and contracts by a borough or town during emergencies from bidding and advertising requirements. Exempted purchases and contracts would need to be approved at the following council meeting with a statement of the emergency and of the nature of the procurement. No adverse impact is projected for Commonwealth funds and municipal advertising and related expenses are projected to be reduced.
HB 1034 (Mako). Favorably reported. This would amend Title 53 of the Consolidated Statutes, the Municipal Code, to authorize a public authority to receive payments through a designated individual in addition to the treasurer, to prohibit payments to the authority to be made out to individual persons, and to mandate accounting and audit procedures for authorities. No adverse fiscal impact is projected on Commonwealth funds and minimal local impact is projected.
HB 1793 (Charlton). Favorably reported. This would establish the Pennsylvania Commission to the United States Semiquincentennial, composed of 24 public officials and private individuals to plan and implement a program and pavilion commemorating the 250th anniversary of the U.S., and to coordinate with federal, state and local agencies on infrastructure improvements and projects to welcome tourists. Anticipated costs are not currently quantified.
The Senate Appropriations Committee met on 4-24-18 and reported out the following bills:
SB 576 (Dinniman). This would create the Cancer Trial Access for Pennsylvania Patients (TAPP) Act. The TAPP Act provides for the creation of non-profit and public charity Third-Party Reimbursement Entities, to be registered with college or university schools of public health approved by the Department of Health and in accordance with provisions of the bill, to reimburse financially challenged cancer clinical trial participants, as well as persons supporting them, for travel and ancillary expenses and expenses directly incurred by the patient, in order to remove financial barriers to remaining in a study. No adverse financial impact is expected.
SB 1136 (Brooks). This would amend the Public School Code to extend the authority of schools to enter cooperative service agreements with adjoining full-time police departments when the host municipality has no police, to also permit agreements with an adjoining part-time police department. No financial impact is projected.
The Senate Appropriations Committee met on 4-23-18 and reported out the following bills:
SB 384 (Farnese). This would amend the Assessors Certification Act, repealing an existing exemption for assessors in First-class counties (Philadelphia) from the requirement for certification by the State Board of Certified Real Estate Assessors. Assessors in Philadelphia would be required to become certified within three years of the effective date. The change is expected to have no measurable fiscal impact on the state.
SB 627 (Killion). This would amend the Tax Reform Code to tax air freight forwarding companies, defined in the bill as those primarily using an airline they control and own, the same as railroad, trucking and bus and airline companies, whose tax is assessed based on the relationship between their revenue mileage within the Commonwealth compared to their total revenue mileage. The bill would be applicable to tax years beginning in 2017. The fiscal impact is undetermined: proponents assert it will be cost-neutral; the Department of Revenue projects an annual loss of between $4 million and $5 million to the state.
SB 1031 (Laughlin). This would amend the Insurance Department Act to place new requirements on Insurance Department examinations of insurance companies. The department would be required to discuss with companies ahead of its examinations the anticipated scope, costs payable by the companies, and possible less costly alternatives; to subsequently provide a detailed budget estimate for the company’s review before the examination, and provide billing invoices within 60 days of the examination; and to publish a report annually of all examinations performed in that year. A minimal fiscal impact is projected, which the Department anticipates can be absorbed within its current appropriation.
SB 1056 (Brooks). This would amend the Tax Reform Act to allow increased deductions for depreciation in tax years beginning in 2017, following a Department of Revenue directive to recapture as income for state taxes the value of a depreciation increase allowed by federal tax changes last year. The estimated increase in depreciations allowed by the bill through FY 2018-2019 is $147.7 million. Proponents assert that the bill is fiscally neutral because the FY 2017-2018 state budget calculations did not include recapture of the federal depreciations as revenue.
SB 1091 (Martin). This would amend the Motor Vehicle Code to provide for voluntary $5 donations to the Pediatric Cancer Research Fund upon electronic renewals of driver licenses, identity cards and vehicle registrations. The Pediatric Cancer Research Fund would also be established by the bill to fund cancer research approved by the Pennsylvania Cancer Control, Prevention and Research Advisory Board. There is a projected one-time fiscal impact of $150,000.
HB 478 (Pickett). This would establish the Outpatient Psychiatric Oversight Act. It would require outpatient psychiatric clinics to have a psychiatrist present for two hours every week for each full-time equivalent (37.5 hours/week) staff member. Up to 50 percent of the required time on-site could be provided by a combination of an advanced practice professional and/or two-way interactive audio-visual communications with a psychiatrist. No adverse health impact is projected.
Preferred 2018-2019 Appropriation Bills
SB 1117 (Browne). State Gaming Fund to the Office of Attorney General, Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, State Police and Department of Revenue for gaming-related expenses: $78,052, the same amount as in 2017-2018; $1,859,000 from the Fantasy Contest Fund and $5,014,000 from the Video Gaming Fund to the Gaming Control Board and Department of Revenue. The two latter funds were established by Act 42 of 2017.
SB 1118 (Browne). General Fund restricted revenue to the Public Utility Commission for 2018-2019 operations: $73,499,000; additionally, $5,537,000 in federal funds for pipeline and motor carrier safety. All appropriations are at 2017-2018 levels.
SB 1119 (Browne). Workmen’s Compensation Administration Fund to the Department of Labor and Industry: $78,356,000 for administration of Workmen’s Compensation Act and Pennsylvania Occupational Disease Act; Workmen’s Compensation Administration Fund to the Department of Community and Economic Development (Office of Small Business Advocate): $275,000. Both appropriations are flat-funded from 2017-2018.
SB 1120 (Browne). General Fund restricted accounts and Professional Licensure Augmentation Account for Department of State operations: $48,039,000 (Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs), $8,934,000 (Board of Medicine), $1,818,000 (Board of Osteopathic Medicine), $277,000 (Board of Podiatry), $639,000 (Athletic Commission). These are identical to 2017-2018 levels.
SB 1121 (Browne). General Fund restricted account to Office of Attorney General: $5,686,000 for Office of Consumer Advocate operations and expenses. Level-funded from 2017-2018.
SB 1122 (Browne). General Fund restricted account to Department of Community and Economic Development: $1,715,000 for Office of the Small Business Advocate. Level-funded from 2017-2018.
SB 1124 (Browne). State Employees Retirement Fund to State Employees Retirement Board: $32,619,000 for FY 2018-2019 operations and unpaid bills incurred in 2017-2018; SERS Defined Contribution Fund for administration of State Employees’ Defined Contribution Plan: $5,269,000. Level funding with 2017-2018.
SB 1125 (Browne). Public School Employees’ Retirement Fund to Public School Employees’ Retirement Board: $52,453,000 for FY 2018-2019 operations and unpaid bills incurred in 2017-2018; PSERS Defined Contribution Fund to Public School Employees Defined Contribution Plan: $6,801,000. Level funding with 2017-2018.
The Senate Appropriations Committee met on 4-16-18 and reported out the following bills:
SB 435 (Boscola) – Amends the Vehicle Code, 75 PaC.S. section 3720, to require reasonable efforts to be made to clear vehicles operated on roadways 24 hours after the end of snow or ice events of snow and ice from the hood, roof and trunk, subject to a summary violation carrying a $75 fine, with a maximum fine if dislodged snow or ice causes death or serious bodily injury increased to $1,500 from $1,000 currently. No fiscal impact is projected.
SB 742 (Greenleaf) – Amends the Sexual Assault Testing and Evidence Collect Act to expand the statutory rights for victims of sexual assault to include the rights to receive a medical forensic examination, have collected evidence preserved for the period of the applicable statutes of limitation, to receive notification prior to disposal of the evidence, and to consult with a sexual assault counselor, and other rights. The fiscal impact is projected to be only the cost of additional storage space for evidence, which has not been quantified, and the development of standard protocols and dissemination of relevant information.
SB 915 (Greenleaf) – Amends the provisions for Post-Trial relief under the Judicial Code, 42 PaC.S.. Ch. 95, to set standards for contact with victims, witnesses and their families initiated by representatives of attorneys for convicted defendants; and to extend the time for seeking post-conviction relief to one year from 60 days when relief is claimed based on DNA evidence obtained through post-conviction DNA testing. No fiscal impact is projected.
SB 916 (Greenelaf) – Amends the provisions for Post-Trial relief under the Judicial Code, 42 PaC.S.. Ch. 95, that limit the right to DNA tests to only persons serving death sentences or sentences of life imprisonment; generally permitting DNA testing to be granted when it is requested in a timely fashion to prove actual innocence, and not to delay the administration of justice, subject to procedures set in the bill. No fiscal impact is anticipated on the Judiciary. Costs are anticipated, but undetermined, by State Police only with regard to DNA testing and storage.
SB 1041 (Bartolotta) – Amends the Military Affairs Code, 51 PaC.S., to direct the development of a distinct official logotype for use by veteran-owned small businesses and a separate official logotype for use by service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses in the Commonwealth. No fiscal impact is projected.
SB 1070 (Greenleaf) – Amends the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency Law to establish a 19-member County Adult Probation and Parole Committee within the commission; composed of representatives of the commission, county government, victims and the courts to meet at least quarterly to advise the commission on funding, standards and training for county adult probation and parole offices. Savings from improvements in the delivery of services would be deposited into the Justice Reinvestment Fund through 2022-2023. Additional costs to PCCD are projected at about $182,000 annually.
SB 1071 (Greenleaf) – Amends provisions of the Judicial and the Prison and Parole Codes, respectively, 42 and 61 Pa.C.S., to streamline State Intermediate Punishment (SIP) program processes to allow parolees to be quickly detained for violations and speed parole for short prison sentences by among other things, simplifying the selection process for drug treatment programs, removing county probation from the state Board of Probation and Parole oversight and allowing the use of video technology for certain parole process interactions. The projected fiscal impact is an annual additional $500,000 cost to PCCD.
SB 1072 (Greenleaf) – Amends the Crime Victims Act by, among other things: updating definitions; providing notice of the Address Confidentiality Program and a right to notice of placement in the state drug offender treatment program; adjusting the responsibility to notify victims of their rights; expanding the period to claim Victim Compensation to three years from two years; lowering the threshold loss for a claim from $100 to $50; providing flexibility in the amount of emergency awards; making recipients of sexual violence and intimidation orders eligible for crime victim awards; and providing compensation for crime scene clean-up for vehicles. The projected fiscal impact is $700,000 to $900,000 annually from the Victims Witness Service Fund, the Crime Victim’s Compensation Fund and an expected increase in federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funds.
SB 1090 (Corman) – Amends the Crimes Code, 18 Pa.C.S., by adding new chapter 28 that establishes “The Timothy J. Piazza Antihazing Law.” Among other things, the bill defines new offenses of Hazing, Aggravated Hazing, Organizational Hazing and Institutional Hazing to cover intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing a minor or student to break federal or state law, consume any substance with a risk of emotional or physical harm, endure physical or mental brutality or any forced activity adverse to a person’s health or safety. Offenses would be graded from summary offenses to third-degree felony, and punishment may include forfeiture of organizational assets. Formal written anti-hazing policies would be mandated for every secondary school and institution of higher education. No fiscal impact is projected.
HB 866 (Dunbar) – Amends the Local Tax Enabling Act with mainly technical changes to clarify the process for collection of local and delinquent taxes. No adverse fiscal impact is projected.
HB 1869 (Mackenzie) – Establishes the Maternal Mortality Review Act. A committee of at least 15 local and state experts in maternal, infant and public health would be established within the Department of Health to meet at least annually to review cases of maternal death and make recommendations to prevent maternal deaths, and at least every three years to more broadly distribute recommendations to executive and legislative entities and the public. No adverse fiscal impact is projected.
The Senate Appropriations Committee met on 3-26-18 and reported out the following bills:
SB 263 (BAKER) – This would amend the Election Code to eliminate a provision requiring individuals with a permanent disability to re-apply every four years to maintain the right to an absentee ballot. No state fiscal impact is projected. Counties might realize some administrative cost savings.
SB 439 (FONTANA) – This would establish the Carbon Monoxide Alarm Standards in Child Care Facilities Act, requiring all commercial and non-profit child boarding homes, child-care centers and family child care homes that use fossil fuels or have attached garages to have an approved carbon monoxide alarm operating within 18 months, subject to non-renewal of its operating license. There is no projected state fiscal impact.
SB 521 (KILLION) – This would amend the Public School Code to require cardio-pulmonary resuscitation instruction for students in grades 9-12. Minimal state fiscal impact is expected.
SB 762 (WARD) – This would require a performance audit by the state Auditor General of the Statewide Uniform Registry of Electors (SURE system), who is to report to the legislature by the end of this year on Pennsylvania’s compliance with the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA), security protocols and the process for entering and maintaining voting records, along with recommendations for improvements. The estimated $100,000 to $300,000 cost will be covered by existing appropriations.
SB 776 (TOMLINSON) – This would expand the current, pilot Dyslexia and Early Literacy Intervention program to a maximum of eight school districts from five, and extend it by two years, through June 2020. The program is funded through the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and the expansion and extension are expected to have no state fiscal impact.
SB 880 (Langerholc) – This amends the Vehicle Code, 75 Pa.C.S., to modify permitted dimensions of roadway vehicles, most notably increasing the standard permitted width of all vehicles, including load, to 102 inches from 96 inches. PennDOT estimates that about 10 percent of state roadway will not accommodate the expanded width vehicles and will need to be appropriately signed to prohibit them. The projected fiscal cost of more than $6 million includes an estimated $645,000 for signs, and the balance is personnel related.
The Senate Appropriations Committee met on 3-20-18 and reported out the following bills:
SB 501 (KILLION) – This amends provisions of Pennsylvania Consolidated Statues titles 18 (Crimes Code) and 23 (Domestic Relations Code) relating to the surrender of firearms due to domestic violence. Among the major changes, all Protection from Abuse orders would require the surrender of firearms within 48 hours to the local sheriff, a licensed firearms dealer, or the defendant’s attorney. Licensed firearms dealers would be allowed to charge a fee to hold surrendered firearms. Firearms not claimed within one year from the expiration of an abuse order would be deemed abandoned and could be sold by the custodial agency, which would keep the proceeds, or they could be destroyed. Protection orders would be required to include specified prohibitions. Sheriff’s offices would be required to provide service of process, unless the petitioner agrees otherwise. No commonwealth costs are projected, but counties are expected to incur additional unspecified costs.
SB 919 (Haywood) – This amends the Housing Authorities law to provide additional authority and requirements for public housing authorities in relocating tenants who are victims of domestic violence or sexual abuse when there is a reasonable belief of further imminent harm if they do not relocate. Housing authorities would be required to make a good faith effort to relocate a victim within five days of a request for relocation. No fiscal impact is expected.
The Senate Appropriations Committee met on 3-19-18 and reported out the following bills:
SB 748 (ARGALL) – This would establish the Public Safety Facilities Act, imposing a requirement for written notice at least 12 months ahead of the closing of any facility owned or leased for the Department of Corrections or the State Police where 12 or more employees are assigned. In addition to notice to the governor and other state executive officials, notice also would be required to federal, state and local officials of the applicable political subdivision; labor organizations representing affected employees; and other entities deemed necessary by the governor or the closing agency. It is expected to have minimal financial impact.
SB 761 (ARGALL) – This is a first-session, constitutional amendment proposed to require gubernatorial candidates selected by political parties to choose their lieutenant governor running mates, subject to approval by the party, at least 90 days before the general election. Publication of notices mandated by the Constitution is estimated to cost at $1.3 million to $1.5 million.
SB 1011 (RESCHENTHALER) – This is a first-session, constitutional amendment proposal, referred to as “Marsy’s Law,” to incorporate a Victim’s Bill of Rights into the state Constitution. Currently, Pennsylvania provides for victim rights by statute. Publication of notices mandated by the Constitution is estimated to cost at $1.3 million to $1.5 million.
HB 595 (R. BROWN) – This would amend Title 68,the Real and Personal Property Code of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, to provide additional dispute resolution options in condominium, cooperative and planned-community communities that are governed by homeowner associations or boards. It would apply only to communities established after it goes into effect. The Bureau of Consumer Protection in the Office of Attorney General would be authorized also in these communities to enforce statutory provisions for board meetings, quorums and voting; and association records. The fiscal impact is projected by the Attorney General to be approximately $831,000 annually.
HB 952 (MARSICO) – This amends pertinent provisions of titles 18 (Crimes Code), 23 (Domestic Relations Code) and 42 (Judicial Code) the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, comprising the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (aka Adam Walsh and Megan’s laws) to address a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision striking provisions enacted in 2012 as unconstitutional, creating the potential removal of more than 10,000 convicted offenders from the state sexual offender registry. The bill removes retroactivity provisions that the court ruled invalid, while maintaining registration requirements on offenders whose registration periods have not expired. No adverse fiscal impact is predicted.
The Senate Appropriations Committee met on 1-29-18 and reported out the following bills:
SB 21 (Mensch) – This is the stand-alone Employment First Act, applicable to state and county agencies and other entities providing publicly funded services, with the intent to increase employment opportunities for persons with disabilities. The bill provides a framework for meeting goals of having state agency workforces composed at least seven percent of persons with disabilities, and establishes the Governor’s Cabinet for People with Disabilities, currently established by executive order, statutorily. No fiscal impact is projected. The bill was reported favorably by a unanimous vote.
SB 234 (Blake) – This amends the Commerce and Trade Code (Title 12) to include a new chapter (43), authorizing energy improvement assessments in locally designated districts under the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program established by the bill. Counties and municipalities with development offices would be authorized to establish PACE districts in which a targeted assessment would be used to cover the costs of private funding for eligible energy-improvement projects in the district. No fiscal impact is projected. The bill was reported favorably by a unanimous vote.
SB 611 (DiSanto) – This amends the Pubilc Employee Pension Forfeiture Act to expand the crimes related to public office for which public pensions shall be forfeited. Under the bill any state or federal felony or other crime punishable by imprisonment for more than five years related to public office or employment, in addition to designated violations of state and federal law will result in forfeiture from the date a conviction or plea of guilt or nolo contender is entered. No impact is expected on pension funds and administrative costs are projected to be minimal. The bill was reported favorably by a unanimous vote.
SB 898 (Brooks) – This amends the Transportation Code (Title 75) to exempt municipal and municipally contracted vehicles from bonding requirements for the permitted use of overweight vehicles on public roads. Because of unresolved questions concerning the fiscal impact, the bill was reported favorably with all Democratic members voting against it.
HB 359 (English) – This amends the Game Code (Title 34) to set a $100 restitution fee for killing or attempting to kill a bear or an elk by accident or mistake, and establishes conditions to be met for which hunting privileges will not be revoked due to unlawfully taking or possessing game or wildlife. No fiscal impact is expected. The bill was reported favorably by a unanimous vote.
HB 653 (Masser) – This amends the Real and Personal Property Code (Title 68) to provide an expedited forfeiture process for vacant and abandoned properties. The bill sets forth in detail the processes for declaring a property vacant or abandoned for the purpose of forfeiture and to follow for expedited foreclosure. No fiscal impact is projected. The bill was reported favorably by a unanimous vote.
The Senate Appropriations Committee met on 12-12-17 and reported out the following bills:
SB 892 (Reschenthaler) . This amends the Chiropractic Practice Act to create an exception to the licensing requirement, allowing students to obtain clinical training under a licensed chiropracto’s supervision. The fiscal impact is projected to be minimal, involving only updates to the Department of State website.
HB 1420 (Greiner). This amends the Solicitation of Funds for Charitable Purposes Act to increase the annual contribution thresholds triggering mandatory audits, or less stringent reviews and compilations. The audit trigger is increased to $750,000 from $300,000. Other levels are similarly raised, with the minimum reporting threshold, for optional compilations, reviews and audits being increased to $100,000 from $50,000. No fiscal impact is projected. Required updates to the Department of State website are anticipated to be absorbed within the current appropriation.
HB 1421 (Greiner). This also amends the Solicitation of Funds for Charitable Purposes Act to change registration requirements for charitable organizations, professional fundraising counsel and professional solicitors to accept postmarked dates to count for purposes of meeting deadlines and extend the Department of State’s period for reviewing them. Minor costs for Department website and form changes are expected to be absorbed in the current budget.
HB 1902 (Harris) – This amends the Liquor Code to extend the sunset for using underage persons to make purchases for compliance checks through 2022; to allow licensees to own or lease property and equipment used by manufacturer license-holders, and part-owners in limited wineries to be employed by hotel, restaurant, eating place and club-licensees other than in serving alcohol or as managers; and to allow malt or brew beverages produced under contract with an out-of-state brewery to be sold to non-licensees for on- or off-premise consumption, although sales to licensees must be distributed through the three-tiered system. The changes are expected to have either no or no-net fiscal impacts.
HB 1915 (Kauffman) – This amends the Unemployment Compensation law. It provides up to $115.2 million in funding for operations and technological upgrades to wind down through 2021 the Department of Labor and Industry’s reliance on the Service and Infrastructure Improvement Fund that was established in 2013. Up to $85 million is provides over four years for UC system operations, and up to $30.2 million is provided for technological upgrades to the system.
The Senate Appropriations Committee met on 10-24-17 and reported out the following bills:
SB 52 (Greenleaf) – This bill amends the Military and Veterans Code to add a new chapter that would establish the National Guard Youth Challenge Program to the extent funds are appropriated, with up to 75 percent of program operating costs to be federally funded. The program will be open to high school dropouts under standards and procedures set by the Defense Department to increase life skills and employment potential through military-based training and supervised work experience, with the aim of earning a high school or equivalency diploma. A nine-member advisory council would be filled equally between the governor, President pro Tempore and Speaker of the House.
SB 935 (Scarnati) – This bill amends section 302 of the Fish and Boat Code to limit the term of executive director to not more than eight years. This committee voted 17-9 along party lines to favorably refer the bill.
The Senate Appropriations Committee met on 6-26-17 and reported out the following bills:
SB 325 (Hughes) – As amended in committee, restores funding for University of Pennsylvania veterinary school operations to the 2016-2017 level of $30.135 million, in addition to providing $281,000 for the Center for Infectious Diseases at Penn.
SB 431 (Scavello) – Increases littering fines and penalties under the Crimes Code to a range of $50 to $1,000 from $50 to $300 for first offenders and to a range for repeat offenders of $100 to $2,000 from $300 to $1,000, based on the amount of trash; and under the Motor Vehicle Code increases the fines to a range of $900 to $1,500 from $0 to $900 in agricultural easement areas while establishing a range of $100 to $2,000 for other areas, again based on the amount of trash. Two-thirds of Motor Vehicle Code fines above $300 would go to the county of violation if it has a waste management authority. The fiscal impact is expected to be between $8,250 and $1, 930,000 in additional revenue under the Crimes Code and $95,900 to $1,918,000 under the Motor Vehicle Code.
SB 736 (Martin) – Authorizes Cities of the Second Class A and Third Class to enforce local parking ordinances and parking provisions of the Motor Vehicle Code through their local parking authorities. No fiscal impact.
SB 751 (White) – Provides for the licensing and regulation of non-bank mortgage servicers, including allowing a qualified mortgage lender to act as a broker without a separate license in accordance with federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau regulations. No adverse fiscal impact. Regulatory costs are projected to be covered by license revenue.
HB 218 ( Saylor) – The 2017-2018 General Appropriations bill presently provides $234 million in supplemental 2016-2017 appropriations, $30.939 billion in General Fund 2017-2018 appropriations and $3.942 billion in 2017-2018 special fund appropriations. With 2016-2017 supplemental appropriations factored in, it represents $214 million less in spending for 2017-2018 than this year.
HB 239 (Toepel) – Establishes the Rare Diseases Council, composed of a mix of ex officio and appointed public members to coordinate studies on the occurrence of rare diseases in the Commonwealth. A preliminary report is due in 12 months, a comprehensive report within two years and biennial reports thereafter. Minimal fiscal impact.
HB 290 (Metzger) – Extends the sunset of the Storage Tank and Spill Prevention Act by five years, to June 2022; and reforms appointments to the six-member board, currently made by the governor, to one appointment for each caucus and the balance by the governor. Fiscal impact: $7.75 million annually, based on current program costs.
HB 1269 (Quigley) – Expands the start deadline by five years to 20 years for construction projects imposing tapping fees by municipal authorities that serve five or more municipalities. No adverse fiscal impact.
The Senate Appropriations Committee met on 2-6-17 and reported out the following bills:
SB 10: This bill directs municipalities to comply with federal detainer requests issued by the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Municipalities that refuse to comply would become subject to civil liability and lose eligibility for state grants. The bill was reported 17-8.
SB 137: This bill provides for additional duties of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) relating to the Civil Air Patrol (CAP). The bill was reported unanimously.
SB 166: This bill is a freestanding act that will be known as the “Protection of Public Employee Wages Act.” The bill prohibits a public employer from deducting funds to be used for political contributions from the wages of a public employee. The bill was reported 16-9
SB 167: This bill proposes an amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution to prohibit certain deductions from public employee wages. The bill was reported 16-9.
The Senate Appropriations Committee met on 1-31-17 and reported out the following bills:
SB 170: This bill makes numerous changes to the internal operations of the Delaware River Port Authority, DRPA. These changes will (1) provide for more open and transparent governance of the DRPA, and (2) limit certain perks to DRPA employees and officers. These changes would need to be adopted by both Pennsylvania and New Jersey before they go into effect. The bill was reported unanimously.
SB 181: This bill would require the Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) to prepare a performance based budget plan (PBB) for each agency of state government which would then have to be approved by a newly created Performance-based Budget Board. It shall be required that these plans be considered when the Governor develops his budget and the General Assembly approves the budget. Sen. Hughes offered A00088 that would move the initiation date for performance based budgeting to FY 2019-20. The amendment failed 6-20. Sen. Hughes also offered A00087 that would provide for a review of the efficiency of tax credits by the Independent Fiscal Office (IFO). The review would be done in batches of three or four tax credits per year. Over the course of five years, all tax credits would be reviewed. The tax credits would also be reviewed every five years to ensure they are meeting the original intent of the tax credit and whether or not the tax credit should be terminated or amended to be more efficient. The amendment was adopted unanimously and the bill was reported unanimously.
SB 261: This bill amends Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) to extend or eliminate the statute of limitations for civil and criminal actions arising from childhood sexual abuse and lifts sovereign immunity in certain circumstances. The bill was reported unanimously.
Senator Vincent Hughes