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The Senate approved Senate Bill 48 by a vote of 27-21. The bill would have prohibited the Pennsylvania Department of State from disapproving or decertify voting machines in 50 percent or more counties unless the department submitted a written plan to the President Pro Tempore and Speaker of the House at least 180 days prior to replacing the machines.

The written plan would have included:

  • The reason for disapproval or decertification;
  • The estimated cost to replace the voting machines and a plan for how funding to replace the machines can be obtained;
  • A plan for replacing the disapproved or decertified machines; and
  • The effective date of the replacement

A Voting System Decertification Commission, composed of members appointed by the governor and leading members from both legislative chambers would have been established to review the written plan. The commission would have been required to hold at least two public hearings and issue a written report estimating costs of the plan, written justification for disapproval or decertification (including dissenting opinions) and any recommend legislative action.

Senate Bill 48 became Veto No. 3 of 2019. Governor Tom Wolf said the legislation “weakens the ability of the commonwealth and counties to quickly respond to security needs of voting systems in the future, creating unnecessary bureaucracy and potentially harmful delays.”

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The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 110, which would amend two sections of the Home Rule Law, thus changing the process for local governments to become home rule or optimal plan governments.

The legislation would restrict election boards to placing questions to form government study commissions to general elections and not primaries.

The bill would also prohibit the filing of any ordinance or petition to consider a question to form a government study commission if any of the three questions to form a commission have been defeated in any of the last four years.

The bill was referred to the House Local Government Committee.

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The Senate voted 46-2 for Senate Bill 133, which proposes a constitutional amendment to allow each party’s nominee for governor to select a running mate for lieutenant governor (instead of voters choosing a candidate for that office in a primary election).

Under the bill, the selection would need to be made within 90 days before the gubernatorial election and approved by the respective party’s state committee.

The bill was referred to the House State Government committee.

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The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 316 which would allow for Second Class township board of supervisors to authorize newly-elected supervisors to attend trainings related to their office before assuming office.

The bill would also allow board of supervisors to pay for these trainings.

The bill was referred to the House Local Government committee.

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The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 317, which would amend the Second-Class township code to provide for annual budget notification requirements.

This includes reducing the number of days between advertising an amended annual budget and adopting a final budget from 20 days to 10 days.

The bill also removes a requirement to prepare a budget on a uniform form.

The bill was referred to the House Local Government committee.

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The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 440, which permanently establishes the Flexible Instructional Days (FID) program in the state.

The FID program allows schools to fulfill a required day of instruction with students at home instead of coming to school. This could occur on a day when a school building is prevented from opening due to: a disease epidemic; hazardous weather condition; law enforcement emergency; issues involving the operation of school buses or other necessary school equipment; significant damage to a school building; or any temporary circumstance rendering any portion of a school unfit or unsafe for use.

The FID day must still provide instruction to students. Public school entities are eligible for five FIDs annually. The Department of Education will issue guidance and establish a form for schools to participate in the program.

Senate Bill 440 became Act 64 of 2019.