Senator Laughlin E-Newsletter

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Harrisburg Happenings

A report on the Legislative Session from the week of May 6, 2019

Dear Friend,

I am pleased to send you my Session Wrap Up e-newsletter. This e-newsletter features events and legislative activities during the Session Week of May 6, 2019.

If you find this e-newsletter useful, I invite you to visit my website for more information about your state government. If you do not wish to receive these e-newsletters, please click the “unsubscribe” button at the bottom of the page.  If you would like to contact my office, please go to my web page and click the “contact” button.  Please do not “reply” directly to this e-mail.


Dan Laughlin

Senate Confirms Marshall Piccinini as Erie County Judge

Marshall J. Piccinini appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday before his confirmation by the full Senate later in the day.

The Senate unanimously confirmed the nomination of Marshall J. Piccinini to serve as an Erie County Judge on Tuesday.

He replaces Judge William R. Cunningham, who resigned, for a term to January 2022. Judge Piccinini served most recently as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania and previously served as an Erie County Deputy District Attorney.

He also served as a lawyer with Army and commanded Criminal Investigation Division detachments as an Army Reservist. He is a graduate of Washington & Jefferson College and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. Judge Puccinini is active in a number of local civic organizations.


Senate Passes “Farming First” Legislative Package

The Senate approved a package of “Farming First” bills this week that would help Pennsylvania agricultural operations remain competitive and profitable for current and future generations of farmers. The bills in the “Farming First” package would:

  • Change the state’s farmland preservation program to allow farmers more flexibility for building or subdividing residences. Senate Bill 145
  • Update Pennsylvania’s Vehicle Code to allow the transportation of large farm equipment. Senate Bill 338
  • Set commonsense safety standards and remove costly requirements for barn weddings and other social events on farms. Senate Bill 453
  • Provide a tax credit program for landowners to lease or sell farmland to future generations of farmers. Senate Bill 478
  • Ease restrictions on the use of farmland for farm-related tourism and entertainment activities Senate Bill 583
  • Create the Pennsylvania Dairy Future Commission to bring together all stakeholders in the industry. Senate Bill 585
  • Exempt milk haulers from weather-related travel bans. Senate Bill 588

The “Farming First” legislative package builds on the longstanding efforts of Senate Republicans to support Pennsylvania’s farm families and maintains agriculture’s status as the state’s top industry. Pennsylvania’s 59,000 farm families manage more than 7.7 million acres of farmland. The agriculture industry generates more than $7.5 billion in cash receipts annually.

Senate Republicans led the fight last year to create the Pennsylvania Dairy Industry Investment Program, which is designed to improve the production, processing and distribution of dairy products throughout the state.

All of the bills in the “Farming First” package were sent to the House of Representatives for consideration. Click here for more information.

Senate Sends Child Safety Bill to Governor

The Senate approved a bill on Wednesday that would provide civil immunity for people who rescue children from locked vehicles during a crisis, such as when summer heat imperils their safety.

House Bill 279, which provides for civil immunity when there is damage to a motor vehicle when forceful entry is necessary to rescue an individual, now goes to the Governor for enactment into law.

Under the measure, immunity would be granted based on several criteria, including a belief that the individual is in imminent danger of suffering harm and is unable to exit the vehicle without assistance. A reasonable attempt to locate the driver and contact law enforcement or an emergency responder must also be made prior to entry. 

Measure Addresses Firefighter Volunteer Training Requirements

The Senate approved a bill on Monday that would help Pennsylvania’s volunteer fire companies recruit and retain members. Senate Bill 146, which makes online training more available to current and prospective first responders, now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration. 

In the 1970’s, Pennsylvania had more than 300,000 volunteer firefighters; today we have fewer than 40,000. Firefighters – especially younger, tech-savvy firefighters-in-training – have requested that some courses be offered online, so that they can learn vital skills from the convenience of their own homes and on their own schedules.

Two additional bills cleared the Senate this week and were sent to the House of Representatives.

Senate Bill 89 updates the Public School Code to replace “vocational-technical schools” with “career and technical schools.”

Senate Bill 613 amends the Administrative Code to repeal provisions related to employees with access to federal tax information and providing for criminal history background checks of employees and contractors with access to federal tax information.

Committee Roundup

Game & Fisheries

The Game & Fisheries Committee, which I chair, approved three bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 481 exempts the cost of fishing licenses for veterans and other individuals taking steps towards physical or mental recovery as part of therapeutic recreation events or programs.

Senate Bill 552 gives the Game Commission the authority to establish fees.

Senate Bill 553 gives the Fish and Boat Commission the authority to establish fees. 


The Senate Appropriations Committee, on which I serve, approved six bills on Monday.

Senate Bill 174 provides for the tax sale of abandoned properties.

Senate Bill 338 increases the allowable width for farm equipment on roads.

Senate Bill 478 provides a personal income tax credit for landowners who lease or sell their land, buildings and equipment to beginning farmers.

Senate Bill 583 ensures that agritourism activities are considered and treated as part of agriculture authorized on farms in the state farmland preservation program.

Senate Bill 585 establishes the Pennsylvania Dairy Future Commission to review the current status of the dairy industry in the Commonwealth and make recommendations on how to support its future.

Senate Bill 613 amends the Administrative Code to repeal provisions related to employees with access to federal tax information and providing for criminal history background checks of employees and contractors with access to federal tax information.


The Senate Education Committee approved two bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 456 allows private licensed schools to create branch campuses in counties outside the county that houses the primary site.

Senate Bill 621 amends Act 44 of 2018 to clarify language regarding armed school security guards and regarding sheriffs and deputy sheriffs who serve as school security officers.


The Senate Finance Committee approved five bills on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 28 reduces the inheritance tax on property passing to non-sibling heirs.

Senate Bill 201 provides for “like-kind” exchange tax deferrals. 

Senate Bill 541 improves Pennsylvania’s historic preservation incentive tax credit program.

Senate Bill 616 clarifies an existing sales and use tax exemption on certain services or goods purchased by qualified businesses located in a Strategic Development Area. 

Senate Bill 618 grants a 10-year extension of the Coal Refuse Energy and Reclamation Tax Credit — from the currently mandated year of 2026 to 2036 — and increases the amount of tax credits to $45 million.

Labor & Industry

The Senate Labor & Industry Committee approved three bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 91 requires the Department of Labor & Industry to collect and disseminate data about emerging and projected future employment sectors.

Senate Bill 118 creates a “Recovery to Work” pilot program.

Senate Bill 140 extends the rights of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act to siblings, grandparents and grandchildren in certain cases.

Law & Justice

The Senate Law & Justice Committee approved Senate Resolution 105 on Tuesday. The Resolution directs the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to study the statutory cap on the Pennsylvania State Police complement and issue a report of its findings and recommendations to the Senate.

Local Government

The Senate Local Government Committee approved Senate Bill 321 on Wednesday. The bill gives municipalities the option to ban gaming establishments.

State Government

The Senate State Government Committee approved six bills on Tuesday.

House Bill 223 conveys land in Asylum Township, Bradford County, to French Azilum, Inc.

House Bill 227 clarifies that school director candidates will be required to submit 10 signatures for nomination.

Senate Bill 412 amends the state Constitution to repeal a provision that excludes federal, state, county, and municipal employees from serving as poll workers. 

Senate Bill 413 amends the state Constitution to eliminate a provision requiring a separate ballot or a separate column on voting machines for the retention of justices, judges, and justices of the peace.

Senate Bill 538 conveys to the Cumberland Valley Rails-to-Trails Council a permanent easement for land owned by Shippensburg University for a parking lot.

Senate Bill 617 conveys land in the Borough of Lewistown to Mifflin County.

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