Appropriations 2017-2018

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

Senator Vincent Hughes

Committee Chair