Senate Democratic Wrap-up for the Week of June 19, 2016

 

The Senate unanimously approved House Bill 342, which would amend the Election Code to change the number of required signatures for minor party candidates to get on the ballot.

The bill would also amend the amount of time major and minor parties have to circulate nomination papers and requires school director candidates to receive a minimum number of signatures to be get on the ballot.

The legislation amends the number of signatures “minor” political parties are required to receive to be equal to two and a half times the number of signatures required by major political party candidates.  Currently minor parties are required to receive a number of signatures equal to 2 percent of the highest vote cast in the last election.

The bill reduces the amount of time all major and minor party candidates have to circulate nomination papers to six weeks.  The time frame would span from the first Wednesday after the primary to the seventh Wednesday after the primary.

This legislation also adds consistency by requiring school directors to get a minimum of 10 signatures.  Pennsylvania requires specific positions to receive a minimum requirement of signatures but school directors are not required.  The existing problem is that one school district may involve two different municipalities with different requirements to be placed on the ballot.  This change creates consistency for candidates regardless of the town.

The bill now goes to the House Rules Committee.

***

The Senate unanimously approved House Bill 602, which increases the active duty pay for National Guard members from $75 to $100 per day.

Under the bill, state Guard members will now be eligible for a minimum pay of $100 per day in cases where the governor activates them for active duty state service.

The bill was enacted as Act 61 of 2016.

 

***

 

The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 876, which would amend the Workers’ Compensation Act to address underfunding of the Uninsured Employers Guaranty Fund (UEGF).

The UEGF was established to provide for injured workers whose employers fail to provide the required workers comp insurance. The legislation does the following:

 

  • amends the procedures by which employees may file a claim with the UEGF to receive compensation. Added provisions to an individual’s “proof of wages” were added to the bill.

 

  • The Workmen’s Compensation Administration Fund would be increased to provide for the UEFG fund. The UEGF assessment would be increased from 0.1 percent to 0.25 percent of the previous year’s insurance payout in compensation. To compensate for the increase amount being distributed to the UEFG fund the carryover balance for the Administration Fund would be capped at 120 percent rather than 133 percent.

 

  • L&I would be authorized to verify with employers located in other states that the employer has met the required insurance guidelines of that state — and when an employee who resides in Pennsylvania would be entitled to the workers’ compensation from that state.

 

  • The bill provides for the situation where an employee is injured and not compensated by an out-of-state employer. The injured worker would be required to submit a petition to the UEGF and to any judge to affirm that he or she is not entitled to any benefits from the other state.

 

  • The bill allows L&I to further investigate employer’s failure to pay workmen’s compensation to an applicable employee. Failure to comply with the Department of L&I request would result in additional fines.

 

  • The bill would add provisions to the Uninsured Employers Guaranty Fund. The process by which claims are made to this fund would be altered and new penalties would be established. In addition, the bill provides a list of healthcare providers for individuals receiving compensation and benefits from this fund to receive assistance from.

 

  • The Department of Labor and Industry would be required to submit an annual report to the General Assembly outlining the department’s efforts toidentify uninsured employers and the number of penalties issued against these employers.

 

Similar legislation was introduced last session as Senate bill 1195, but the bill was never acted upon in the House Labor & Industry Committee. The bill now goes to House Labor and Industry Committee.

 

***

 

The Senate voted 46-2 in favor of Senate Bill 1166, which would authorize the Game Commission to set the licensing fees it charges for hunting and fur-taking licenses.

This legislation would be in effect for three years — and then would need to be renewed by the General Assembly. The Legislative Budget and Finance Committee would conduct a financial report to measure the effectiveness of the Game Commission setting its own prices. Currently only the legislature is able to set the licensing fees for hunting and fur-taking.

Licensing fee changes would need to be brought before the public for open comments. All fee changes would be reviewed by the legislature.

The bill is currently in the House.

 

***

 

The Senate voted 46-2 in favor of Senate Bill 1168, which would authorize the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) to set its own fees.

The legislature currently sets fees for fishing licenses, boat registrations and titles. The bill would allow the PFBC to create its own fees. Licensing fee changes would need to be brought before the public for comments and all fee changes would be reviewed by the legislature.

The legislation also allows for funds collected from Lake Erie Permits to be used for projects that support public fishing on or at Lake Erie, Presque Isle Bay and their tributaries.

The bill is currently on Second Consideration in the House.

***

 

The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 1233, which would amend the Vehicle Code to define “emergency service responder” and “emergency vehicle.”

This legislation would add Special Emergency Response Teams (SERT) to the definition of emergency service responders and emergency vehicles. The change would allow police officers who are also members of SERT to utilize flashing lights on their private vehicles when responding to emergency situations.

The bill now goes to the House Transportation Committee.

 

###