HB 1605, PN 3730 (James) – This is the Fiscal Code bill which provides for the implementation of the 2016-17 Commonwealth Budget. It contains a number of provisions, including: the authorization of various fund transfers; reenacts the Cancer, Control, Prevention and Research Act; establishes the Heritage Park Program to allow for partnerships between governmental and nongovernmental agencies for the management and development of Heritage Areas; recapitalizes the Business in Our Sites Program; allows the PLCB to issue a special occasion permit for a national event; the creation of an intercept program to assist school districts in the event of a budget impasse (limited to no more than 50% of the total non-federal General Fund subsidy payment made in the prior fiscal year); the reduction of appropriations from the Motor License Fund used for State Police operations starting in FY 2017-18; expands a PUC temporary order to Philadelphia, authorizing companies such as Uber and Lyft to operate in the city; suspension of the pension and social security payment double dip for charter and cyber schools for FY 2016-17; and continues the Department of Revenue’s enhanced revenue collection program through 2019-20.
Senator Corman moved that the Senate consider this bill notwithstanding the provisions of Senate Rule 12. The Senate proceeded with consideration of the bill. A vote of 45-5 was recorded.
HB 1606, PN 3723 (Christiana) – This bill provides for Public School Web Accountability and Transparency (SchoolWATCH) by requiring public schools and the PDE to post financial information online for the public. As amended, the School Code bill also drives out funds to public schools as part of the 2016-17 Commonwealth Budget and contains a number of other provisions, including: the online posting of school district information and polices; the issuance of provisional vocational education certificates; expansion of diabetes care and management in public schools; the establishment of the Drug and Alcohol Recovery High School Pilot Program for students who are recovering from drug or alcohol addiction; allows for partnerships between schools so that they can share personnel and administrative services; the creation of the E-chievement grant program within PDE; implementation of the Special Education Funding Commission’s funding formula; enables PDE to use up to $4.5 million in undistributed funds to assist financially distressed school districts; and a $25 million increase in the amount of tax credits available as part of the EITC program to $125 million.
Senator Corman moved that the Senate consider this bill notwithstanding the provisions of Senate Rule 12. The Senate proceeded with consideration of the bill. A vote of 47-3 was recorded.
HB 1198, PN 2683 (Prime Sponsor Withdrew) – This bill makes changes to the Tax Reform Code for FY 2016-17 as part of the Commonwealth Budget. Per the Senate Democratic Appropriations Committee, changes total approximately $724 million (including $495 million in cigarette/tobacco tax revenue). In addition to fund transfers in the Fiscal Code (HB 1605) and estimated revenues from Act 39 (Liquor Modernization), approximately $1.24 billion in revenue is generated to balance the 2016-17 budget.
Senator Browne submitted the conference report on HB 1198, which was then placed on the active calendar. Senator Corman moved that the Senate adopt the conference committee report. A vote of 28-22 was recorded.
The Senate approved the following executive nominations by a vote of 35-15:
Michael Gallagher, Controller, Bucks County (new appointment)
Daniel Butler, Magisterial District Judge – Allegheny County (new appointment)
Eric Schrantz, Magisterial District Judge – Carbon County (new appointment)
Todd Bereda, Magisterial District Judge – Chester County (new appointment)
Jonathan Birbeck, Magisterial District Judge – Cumberland County (new appointment)
David O’Leary , Magisterial District Judge – Dauphin County (new appointment)
Alicia Zito, Magisterial District Judge – Northampton County (new appointment)
Wayne Gongaware, Magisterial District Judge – Westmoreland County (new appointment)