Senator Laughlin E-Newsletter

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Harrisburg Happenings

A report on the Legislative Session from the week of June 24, 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 June 24, 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

New Budget Promotes Workforce Development Efforts in PA

6/27/19 – Senate Republicans: Funding What Works

The Senate approved a Fiscal Year 2019-20 spending plan that includes no tax increases, provides funding for essential services, promotes workforce development efforts, bolsters education spending at all levels and makes a substantial investment in the state Rainy Day Fund. Audio

House Bill 790 promotes workforce development and job training initiatives by:

  • Increasing funding for Career and Technical Education by 7.6 percent ($7 million) from $92 million to $99 million.
  • Increasing funding for Career and Technical Education Equipment Grants by 117.6 percent ($3 million) from $2.5 million to $5.5 million.
  • Increasing funding for the Pennsylvania College of Technology by 17.6 percent ($4 million) from $22.7 million to $26.7 million.
  • Increasing funding for Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology by 27.2 percent ($4 million) from $14.7 million to $18.7 million.
  • Increasing funding for New Choices/New Options by 50 percent ($250,000) from $500,000 to $750,000.

Workforce development must be one of our top state priorities. The investments we make in this area today will pay off well into the future. A well-trained and skilled workforce is a key selling point as we work to draw top tier businesses and industries to Pennsylvania and especially here in the northwest part of the Commonwealth.

Revenues for Fiscal Year 2018-19, which ends on June 30, are anticipated to be $865 million over projections, with an ending balance of about $300 million. All of that money will go into the Rainy Day Fund, which covers financial shortfalls in the event of a dip in the economy. Economies, as everyone knows, are cyclical. That means it is prudent to store away surplus funds to help us get through the next financial crisis. We could easily have spent that money now, but I would much rather hold the line on state spending to what is appropriate and what is necessary.

The budget increases state support for all levels of education. Basic Education funding is increased by $160 million and special education will see a $50 million increase.

School District 2018-19 BEF 2019-20 BEF $ Increase % Increase
Erie City $79,311,348 $81,822,896 $2,511,548 3.2 %
Fairview $3,242,368 $3,297,939 $55,571 1.7 %
General McLane $10,618,564 $10,730,673 $112,109 1.1 %
Girard $8,915,841 $9,094,525 $178,684 2 %
Harbor Creek $8,899,158 $9,031,530 $132,372 1.5 %
Iroquois $8585,229 $8,745,154 $159,925 1.9 %
Millcreek Twp. $14,559,930 $14,897,031 $337,101 2.3 %
North East $8,741,407 $8,875,734 $134,327 1.5 %
Northwestern $9,171,507 $9,264,923 $93,416 1 %
Wattsburg Area $6,792,529 $6,885,307 $92,778 1.4 %

 HB 790 increases spending to support early education with Pre-K spending increasing by $25 million, HeadStart receiving a $5 million increase, and Early Intervention services receiving a $15 million increase.

Higher education institutions will also benefit from this budget with an across-the-board 2 percent increase in funding for community colleges, state-related universities (Pitt, Penn State, Temple and Lincoln) and the State System of Higher Education.

The budget continues also continues our ongoing efforts to protect Pennsylvania’s students and school staff by restoring the Governor’s $15 million cut to the Safe Schools program administered by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (back to $60 million) and increases the Safe School initiative under the Department of Education by $1 million to a total of $11 million.

Senate Approves Sunday Hunting Bill

6/26/19 – Sunday Hunting (SB 147)

The Senate, on Wednesday, approved Senate Bill 147 — my bill that would permit the Pennsylvania Game Commission to allow hunting on up to three Sundays each year. Audio

This was a historic vote, as it takes a major step toward increasing recreational opportunities for the thousands of Pennsylvania sportsmen and women who enjoy hunting. This will remove one of only two ‘Blue Laws’ remaining in the state of Pennsylvania. You can’t hunt and you can’t buy a car on Sunday in Pennsylvania. Senate Bill 147 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

A list of other Fiscal Year 2019-20 Budget Bills

In addition to House Bill 790, the General Assembly approved and sent to the Governor a number of other bills that complete the full state budget package for Fiscal Year 2019-20.

Code Bills

House Bill 33 amends the Human Services Code to eliminate the general assistance cash benefit program, continue the medical assistance Day One incentive payment for non-public nursing homes, and extend the Philadelphia Hospital assessment.

Senate Bill 48 amends the Election Code, including the replacement of voting machines.

Senate Bill 144 amends the Public School Code to provide for $60 million for the School Safety and Security Grant Program and adds new school safety measures.

House Bill 262 amends the Tax Reform Code.

Senate Bill 695 reauthorizes the Human Services Code.

Senate Bill 700 amends the Public School Code to create the Public Higher Education Funding Commission and implement recommendations from the Public School Building Construction and Reconstruction (PlanCon) Advisory Committee.

Senate Bill 712 is the Fiscal Code Bill.

House Bill 1461 amends the Administrative Code to expand the investigative powers of the state Inspector General and makes other changes.

House Bill 1615 amends the Public School Code regarding educational tax credits and makes other changes.

Preferred Appropriations

Senate Bill 235 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for the Bureau of Professional & Occupational Affairs.

Senate Bill 236 provides Workers’ Compensation Act and the Pennsylvania Occupation Disease Act funding for Fiscal Year 2019-20.

Senate Bill 237 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for the Office of Small Business Advocate.

Senate Bill 238 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for the Office of Consumer Advocate.

Senate Bill 239 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for the Public School Employees’ Retirement Board.

Senate Bill 240 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for the State Employees’ Retirement Board.

Senate Bill 241 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for the Philadelphia Parking Authority.

Senate Bill 242 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.

Senate Bill 243 provides State Gaming Fund Appropriations funding for Fiscal Year 2019-20.

Non-Preferred Appropriations

House Bill 1350 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for Penn State.

House Bill 1351 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for the University of Pittsburgh.

House Bill 1352 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for Temple University.

House Bill 1353 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for Lincoln University.

House Bill 1354 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for the University of Pennsylvania for veterinary activities and for the Center for Infectious Diseases.

Measures to Support Agriculture Sent to Governor

            A substantial package of bills to support Pennsylvania farmers and help new farmers continue the state’s rich agricultural heritage received final legislative approval and were sent to the Governor for enactment into law.

            The legislative package — which features the “Farming First” bills from Senate Republicans — includes:

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

House Bill 370, which addresses provisions for farmland preservation.

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

Senate Bill 585, which 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 634, which creates a “Conservation Excellence Grant Program” to provide financial and technical assistance to farmers to install and implement best management practices.

Senate Bill 661, which creates the Commonwealth Specialty Crop Block Grant Fund.

House Bill 915, which allows milk haulers to travel on highways during a declaration of disaster emergency.

House Bill 1514, which provides for Farm-To-School Program grants.

House Bill 1516, which establishes the Agriculture Rapid Response Disaster Readiness Account.

  House Bill 1520, which creates a grant program to reimburse federal meat inspection costs for small or new processors and subsidize the first-time purchase of equipment needed for federal compliance.

House Bill 1526, which establishes the Agriculture-Linked Investment Program.

House Bill 1590, which establishes the Dairy Investment Program and Dairy Investment Program Account. 

School Safety Measure Among Many Bills Sent to Governor

A measure resolving questions about the comprehensive School Safety and Security Law (Act 44) enacted last year was among a large number of bills that received final legislative approval and were sent to the Governor for enactment into law.

Senate Bill 621 clarifies language regarding armed school security guards and regarding sheriffs and deputy sheriffs who serve as school security officers. The legislation also establishes a baseline of training for all school security personnel – whether armed or not – to ensure that they are trained for the purpose of working in a school setting and alongside students.

Other bills sent to the Governor include:

House Bill 3 , which creates an authority to operate a state-based health insurance exchange for Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) individual market plans.

House Bill 24, which requires, with limited exceptions, that all debt amortization be done using an equal annual maturities plan.

House Bill 65, which is an omnibus road and bridge renaming bill.

Senate Bill 117, which designates the Bedford Street bridge in Johnstown, Cambria County, as the Seaman Apprentice Kenneth D. Scaife Memorial Bridge.

Senate Bill 127, which reauthorizes Pennsylvania’s 911 Law.

Senate Bill 128, which codifies the Civil Air Patrol under the Department of Military & Veterans Affairs.

Senate Bill 130, which releases a restriction regarding a property in Montour County.

House Bill 131, which amends the Liquor Code to further define “alcoholic cider” and “fermented fruit beverage.”

House Bill 195, which allows pharmacies to synchronize monthly medication fill dates for a patient, so the prescriptions are filled on the same day of the month.

House Bill 235, which allows a correctional facility employee to serve as a witness to the consent to an adoption by an incarcerated birth parent.

House Bill 265, which amends the Public School Code concerning transfers of credits between institutions of higher education.

Senate Bill 298, which directs “Stolen Valor” fines to the Pennsylvania Veterans’ Trust Fund.

Senate Bill 321, which gives municipalities the option to ban gaming establishments.

House Bill 423, which creates a referendum to allow voters to choose whether a municipality should stay “dry,” allow limited alcohol sales or convert to “wet.”

Senate Bill 440, which provides for flexible instruction days.

House Bill 448, which adds the PEMA Director and the State Police Commissioner to the Pennsylvania Commission for the U.S. Semiquincentennial.

House Bill 547, which amends the First Class Township Code to allow townships to set their annual assessment of the property tax millage rate by resolution.

House Bill 548, which amends the Borough Code and the Third Class City Code to allow for the assessment of the annual property tax millage rate by resolution.

House Bill 615, which expands the definition of enforcement officer in the State Employees Retirement Code to include Pennsylvania Game Commission personnel.

Senate Bill 698, which amends the Medical Practice Act to let physicians use a designee to input information about written agreements into the Department of State’s new online PALS licensing system.

Senate Bill 699, which amends the Osteopathic Practice Act to let physicians use a designee to input information about written agreements into the Department of State’s new online PALS licensing system.

Senate Bill 701, which provides for the conveyance of the former Allentown State Hospital property.

Senate Bill 724, which amends Title 24 (Education) and Title 71 (State Government) to make technical corrections to certain sections added or amended by Act 5 of 2017 and adds provisions for nonparticipating employer withdrawal liability under the Public School Employees’ Retirement Fund.

House Bill 751, which makes technical and editorial changes to the Public Utility Code.

House Bill 786, which establishes accreditation criteria for Level III trauma centers.

House Bill 807, which requires the compensation of Pennsylvania National Guard general officers to be commensurate with the federal military pay scale.

House Bill 826, which authorizes non-profits affiliated with major league and collegiate sports teams to conduct 50/50 drawings for charity.

House Bill 856, which reinstates adoption and permanent legal custodian subsidies.

House Bill 1172, which establishes an endorsement process for issuing certain professional licenses to applicants who are licensed to practice in another state.

House Bill 1324, which allows National Guard members to earn educational benefits for their spouse and/or children by committing to a second six-year reenlistment with the Pennsylvania National Guard.

House Bill 1524, which allows the transfer of some liquor licenses.

House Bill 1614, which amends the Judicial Code to extend the jurisdiction of police officers and agents of the Office of the Attorney General to include situations when they participate in a federal, State or local task force.

Senate Approves Vehicle Emissions Testing Reform Bills

The Senate approved a package of bills on Tuesday to reform Pennsylvania’s vehicle emissions testing program.

Annual emissions testing is required for all gas-powered passenger cars, vans, and light-duty trucks with a model year of 1975 and newer in 25 counties around Pennsylvania. Diesel-powered vehicles and motorcycles are exempt from testing.

 Senate Bill 742 exempts gas-powered passenger cars, vans, and light-duty trucks from the emissions testing program for the first eight years after manufacture.

Senate Bill 743 replaces the annual emissions testing mandate and replaces it with a two-year testing requirement.

Senate Bill 744 exempts Blair, Cambria, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Lycoming, Mercer, and Westmoreland Counties from emissions testing.

Senate Bill 745 replaces the tailpipe test in Pittsburgh and the two-speed idle test via a dynamometer/treadmill in the Philadelphia region with a gas cap test and a visual inspection for model year 1994-95 vehicles.

Senate Bill 746 extends the date for existing emissions inspection stations to obtain new emissions testing equipment from November 1, 2019 to July 1, 2021.

From 2011-17, an average of 5.7 million subject vehicles were tested each year in Pennsylvania and less than 4 percent failed the test. Half of the vehicles tested were eight years old or newer and less than 2 percent of those newer vehicles failed the test.

The bills now go to the House of Representatives for consideration. Other bills approved by the Senate this week and sent to the House include:

Senate Bill 300, which allows voters who are registered as independents to vote in primary elections.

Senate Bill 325, which officially recognizes Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists under Pennsylvania statute.

Senate Bill 418, which addresses the minimum number of ballots that counties are required to print.

Senate Bill 421, which eliminates “straight party” voting.

Senate Bill 422, which establishes the Pennsylvania Election Law Advisory Board.

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

Senate Bill 575, which creates a nutrient procurement program.

Senate Bill 590, which creates the Charter School Funding Advisory Commission.

Senate Bill 607, which allows all municipal police to use radar for traffic speed enforcement.

Senate Bill 619, which amends the Clean Streams Law to address accidental discharges or spills of substances.

Senate Bill 669, which reinstates the permanent legal custodian and adoption assistance subsidies to children from 18 to 21 years of age.

Senate Bill 751, which reforms the educator evaluation system.

Senate Bill 778, which reduces the Turnpike’s contributions to the Public Transportation Trust Fund.

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