In this Update:
This week Senator DiSanto recognized the Lower Dauphin High School Boys’ Soccer Team for their 2019 PIAA 3A State Championship with a senate citation.
DiSanto on Governor’s 2020-21 Budget: PA Must Exercise Fiscal Restraint
On Tuesday, I joined colleagues in a joint session of the General Assembly for the unveiling of Governor Wolf’s state budget for Fiscal Year 2020-21.
The Governor’s $36.1 billion budget proposal includes a $1.5 billion (4.2 percent) increase in state spending from the current fiscal year. The increase is double the spending limits permitted by the Taxpayer Protection Act, legislation which restricts growth in state government spending to inflation plus population growth.
In these strong economic times, the Commonwealth needs to exercise fiscal restraint to get our finances on solid ground. While we made incremental progress last year with a contribution to our Rainy Day Fund, I remain very concerned about the significant proposed increase in spending and borrowing. We must continue efforts to streamline government and realize savings that shield taxpayers from future downturns and tax hikes.
The Governor has yet again called for a new energy tax on natural gas extraction, a $15 minimum wage, and a fee on municipalities for State Police services.
While I have voted in favor of a reasonable minimum wage increase, I believe the Governor’s extreme proposals will negatively impact the state economy. Pennsylvania is already experiencing an exodus of young people seeking opportunities in lower-tax states with greater economic freedom and less regulatory burdens. Increasing costs on employers, imposing a new tax on energy and adding expensive new mandates on our communities will further stifle our business climate.
The Senate Appropriations Committee will hold a three-week series of departmental budget hearings beginning on February 18. The hearings provide an opportunity for the Appropriations Committee to hear cabinet secretaries and other Administration officials detail their plans for the upcoming fiscal year. The state’s current fiscal year ends on June 30.
Bill Increasing Prescription Drug Oversight Sent to Governor
Legislation improving the oversight of prescriptions to reduce the risk of opioid abuse received final legislative approval this week and was sent to the Governor.
Under Senate Bill 432, Medicaid Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) would have access to the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP). The PDMP was created in 2014 in an effort to provide greater monitoring over prescription drugs and potential abuse. Allowing the MCOs to query the PDMP will provide greater collaboration and data when it comes to prescription drug abuse and misuse. The bill includes a provision that requires an MCO to notify the Attorney General and the Department of Human Services if it is believed that a controlled substance was prescribed or dispensed fraudulently.
Other Bills sent to the Governor
House Bill 330 amends the Taxpayer Relief Act making editorial changes to incorrect references.
House Bill 1578 amends Title 68 regarding the Uniform Condominium Act, the Real Estate Cooperative Act and the Uniform Planned Community Act to make technical changes and clarifications.
Senate Votes to Encourage Integration of Community Services in PA Schools
The Senate on Tuesday approved legislation I’m co-sponsoring to establish a pilot program to integrate community-based services into Pennsylvania schools.
Senate Bill 850 would create the “Community Engaged Schools for Success” Pilot Program to encourage community partners to work with designated schools to provide student support services.
The program would connect students and their families with community-based organizations that address academic and nonacademic barriers to learning and provide support and case management services. It would include access to medical and mental health services, tutoring, food and clothing, career and higher education planning, and employment.
Eligible schools would include those with low test rankings and a high percentage of low-income students. They would be eligible for grants of up to $125,000 from the Department of Education to appoint a manager and a coordinator to implement community engagement plans.
Senate Approves Workers’ Comp Bill for First Responders
Critical members of volunteer fire companies, ambulance corps and rescue squads who are injured in the line of duty would qualify for workers’ compensation coverage under a bill approved Monday by the Senate.
Senate Bill 94 would ensure coverage for all active volunteers and integral members of a volunteer fire, ambulance or rescue company insured through the State Workers Insurance Fund (SWIF). The legislation would apply to 1,550 volunteer fire companies and 92 ambulance organizations that are insured by SWIF.
The bill would only apply to active volunteers. Social members would not be included. The legislation is part of a broader focus by lawmakers on the challenges facing fire and EMS companies throughout the state. Senate Bill 94 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Other Bills sent to the House of Representatives
Senate Bill 309, which creates First-time Homebuyers Savings Accounts.
Senate Bill 640, which authorizes the Commonwealth to join the interstate Physical Therapist Compact.
House Bill 1001, which establishes standards for the licensure and regulation of human milk banks. The bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.
House Bill 1100, which establishes the Energy and Fertilizer Manufacturing Tax Credit program. The bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.
Bills approved in committees, public hearings.
Agriculture & Rural Affairs
Senate Bill 915 amends the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes to set clear standards for the application of fertilizer to turf and provide for labels and labeling and the disposition of funds.
Roundtable Discussion of Agricultural Mental Health Video
Communications & Technology
Public hearing on data privacy and potential updates to the Breach of Personal Information Act. Video & Written Testimony
Community, Economic & Recreational Development
Senate Bill 863 defines “recreational campgrounds” in order to provide campground owners with certain rights, similar to the rights of hotelkeepers, and help protect their businesses.
Environmental Resources & Energy
House Bill 342 authorizes the City of Philadelphia to impose a fine or penalty of no more than $500 per-tire for the improper disposal of waste tires.
Senate Bill 1030 amends the Pennsylvania Sewage Facilities Act (Act 537).
House Bill 732 exempts volunteer first responders from the Pennsylvania realty transfer tax.
Game & Fisheries
House Bill 752 removes the current price per acre restriction on Game Fund money used for the purchase of land to be used as game lands in a Second Class County.
Health & Human Services
Senate Bill 934 requires the Department of Human Services to include the inspection of all smoke detectors in their annual inspection of child care facilities.
Labor & Industry
Senate Bill 935 bill amends the Fire and Panic Act regarding smoke detectors.
Senate Bill 207 closes a loophole in the Public Works Contractors’ Bond Law.
Senate Bill 958 states that all electric energy supplied to borough electric systems for sale within borough limits is exempt from the imposition of Pennsylvania’s Gross Receipts Tax.
House Bill 1751 provides for reimbursement of newly elected officers prior to officially taking office to attend any conference, institute, school or convention dealing with the duties and functions of their office.
Senate Bill 565 requires vehicles parking along a curbside bike lane to park parallel with their right-hand or left-hand wheels within 12 inches of the outside line of the buffer area between the bike lane and parking in the direction of traffic flow.
Senate Bill 995 increases the width of multipurpose agricultural vehicles that are allowed on public roadways.
House Bill 1907 designates a bridge over U.S. Route 11/15 in East Pennsboro Township, Cumberland County, as the Senator Hal Mowery Memorial Bridge.
Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness
Senate Resolution 291 recognizes Pennsylvania’s contribution to Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.