Week of March 18, 2019
In this Update:
DiSanto Bill Stripping Public Pensions for Felonies Set for Enactment
Legislation I introduced to ensure that public employees who commit job-related felonies are stripped of their taxpayer-funded pension was approved by the Senate with House amendments Wednesday and was sent to the Governor’s desk. The Governor has 10 days to act on the bill and has said previously that he supports the legislation.
Currently, the Public Employee Pension Forfeiture Act requires a public employee to forfeit his or her pension only for certain crimes listed in the act. In practice, this law allows public employees charged with a forfeiture crime to plead guilty to a different non-forfeiture crime in order to avoid losing their pension.
Senate Bill 113 would require pension forfeiture if a public employee or public official is convicted of or pleads guilty or no contest to any felony offense or other criminal offense punishable by a term of imprisonment exceeding five years that is related to his or her employment.
The bill also closes the “Mellow Loophole,” through which former State Senator Bob Mellow of Lackawanna County had his $245,000 a year pension restored despite pleading guilty and being sent to prison on federal conspiracy charges.
In addition, the legislation ensures that criminal convictions involving public officials are reported to state pension boards. Current law does not require the employee, courts, or state agencies to send copies of court records upon conviction.
This reform should have passed last session but it died in the House without a final vote. I kept up the pressure on leadership to bring it back, and I appreciate that both the House and Senate agreed it was a priority for this session. I am committed to reforming our government and protecting taxpayers, and this is just the start of what needs to be done.
Senate Approves Civil Air Patrol Measure
A measure intended to better secure state funding for the Civil Air Patrol received final Senate approval this week and was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration
Senate Bill 128 codifies the Civil Air Patrol’s state operations in Title 51 under the leadership of the Adjutant General.
The Civil Air Patrol is the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force and has three core missions – Aerospace Education, Cadet Programs, and Emergency Services (Search & Rescue, Disaster Relief, and Counter-Drug Support). The 55 Civil Air Patrol units in Pennsylvania work alongside state police, fire, and other emergency personnel to help save lives.
Senator DiSanto honors the 2018 PIAA Class AAA Field Hockey Champions, Hershey High School, on the floor of the Senate
DiSanto and Helm to host Vietnam Veterans Recognition Event
State Representative Sue Helm and I will be honoring local veterans of the Vietnam War era during a ceremony at 9 a.m. on March 29, 2019 at the Widener University School of Law, 3800 Vartan Way, Harrisburg. We are pleased to have Major General Anthony Carrelli, the Adjutant General of Pennsylvania, serve as the keynote speaker.
During the ceremony, eligible veterans will be presented a commemorative pin and a certificate of recognition. To be eligible for the pin, the recipient must be a living veteran who served on active duty in the U.S. armed forces between November 1, 1955 and May 15, 1975, regardless of service location. Veterans are eligible to receive only one pin, but prior recipients are welcome to attend.
Representative Helm’s office is handling registrations for this event, and she may be contacted at 717-692-0833.
DiSanto to hold Seminar on Avoiding Scams and Identity Theft
Agriculture & Rural Affairs
Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee and the House Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committees held a public hearing Wednesday to examine the Wolf Administration’s comprehensive “PA Farm Bill.”
The proposal includes 17 separate initiatives to address issues such as business development and succession planning, processing capabilities, regulatory burdens, workforce needs, rapid response capabilities to address threats such as spotted lanternfly, agriculture infrastructure and market opportunities. Hearing Video
The Senate Appropriations Committee approved 16 bills on Monday.
Senate Bill 128 codifies the Civil Air Patrol’s state operations under the leadership of the Department of Military & Veterans Affairs.
Senate Bill 234 is the General Fund Budget for Fiscal Year 2019-20.
Senate Bill 235 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for the Bureau of Professional & Occupational Affairs.
Senate Bill 236 Workers’ Compensation Act and Pennsylvania Occupation Disease Act funding for Fiscal Year 2019-20.
Senate Bill 237 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for the Office of the Small Business Advocate.
Senate Bill 238 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for the Office of the 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 State Gaming Fund appropriations funding for Fiscal Year 2019-20.
Senate Bill 244 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for Penn State.
Senate Bill 245 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for the University of Pittsburgh.
Senate Bill 246 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for Temple University.
Senate Bill 247 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for Lincoln University.
Senate Bill 248 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for the University of Pennsylvania for veterinary activities and for the Center for Infectious Diseases.
The Senate Education Committee approved five measures on Tuesday.
Senate Resolution 34 establishes a Global Education Task Force.
Senate Bill 89 updates the Public School Code to replace “vocational-technical schools” with “career and technical schools.”
Senate Bill 115 integrates CPR instruction into existing curriculum for grades 9-12.
Senate Bill 144 creates the Keystone Telepresence Education Grant program.
Senate Bill 440 provides for flexible instruction days.
The Senate State Government Committee approved two bills on Tuesday.
House Bill 18 authorizes the release of Project 70 restrictions on land owned by the Borough of Topton, Berks County, in exchange for the imposition of the restrictions on other land to be acquired by the borough. The bill also provides for land conveyances in Chester, Lehigh and Monroe counties.
Senate Bill 372 updates the state History Code.
Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness
The Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee approved four bills on Tuesday.
Senate Bill 139 amends the Pennsylvania Price Gouging Act to ensure that a Governor’s emergency declaration does not place an undue and unnecessary burden on operations and businesses outside of and unrelated to the disaster.
Senate Bill 146 makes online training more available to current and prospective first responders.
Senate Bill 298 transfers “Stolen Valor” fines to the Pennsylvania Veterans’ Trust Fund.
Senate Bill 439 expands the Pennsylvania Heart and Lung Act to include several law enforcement entities that are not currently protected by this coverage.
April 6 – Northern Dauphin Community & Career Fair, Lykens
April 11 – YWCA’s Card’s with Heart Artist’s Reception, Harrisburg
April 28 – Gamut Theatre’s 2019 Gala: Carnival de Verona, Harrisburg
The Senate returns to voting session on Monday at 1 p.m. You can watch session live at SenatorDiSanto.com.