Senate Acts to Put the Brakes on PennDOT’s Bridge Tolling Plan
The Senate approved a plan this week to reform the Public-Private Transportation Partnership (P3) statute and to void the PennDOT Pathways Major Bridge P3 Initiative.
On November 12, 2020, the P3 Board, under PennDOT’s jurisdiction, supported an ambiguous proposal to impose user fees or tolls on major bridges throughout the interstate system. This was the first time in the P3 Board’s history to consider a proposal with user fees.
The reform legislation will:
Senate Approves Legislation Permitting Essential Family Caregiver Nursing Home Visits During Emergencies
The Senate approved legislation to allow a family member or other designated person to visit and care for a long-term care facility resident during a disaster emergency involving a communicable disease.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many residents of such facilities have been denied the ability to see and receive care from their loved ones, causing traumatic distress.
The legislation allows long-term care facilities to designate Essential Family Caregivers for regular visits. A participating facility must follow necessary health precautions outlined by federal and state governments.
Senate Passes Plan to Establish a New Funding Stream for Pediatric Cancer Research
More than $100 million in private donations over the next 10 years could be raised to support childhood cancer research under a bill passed by the Senate.
The legislation establishes a tax credit program for qualifying donations to a Pennsylvania pediatric cancer research hospital. The program would be capped at $10 million per year over the next 10 years.
More children die from cancer than any other disease and currently, only 4 percent of National Cancer Institute research dollars are spent on pediatric cancer. Since 1975, pediatric cancer incidence rates have increased every year.
Senate Approves Program to Train Next Generation of PA Firefighters
The Senate approved creation of a pilot program to train high school students interested in firefighting and help alleviate the pressing need for volunteer firefighters in Pennsylvania.
According to the bipartisan SR 6 report on the serious problems facing volunteer fire companies, Pennsylvania is experiencing a severe shortage of volunteer firefighters. The current number of volunteers is down to less than 15 percent of the number in the 1970s.
The legislation creates a pilot program for Pennsylvania community colleges and universities to give interested high school students training in firefighting. The goal is to demonstrate that students receiving training will show an interest in becoming the next generation of firefighters. The bill requires a follow-up study to measure the program’s success.
DiSanto Bill Passes Senate Committee
Legislation I sponsored requiring the General Assembly to approve all major regulations was approved by the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee this week.
Senate Bill 520 ensures no regulation or revision to general permits with economic impacts, or costs to government or the private sector, exceeding $1 million could be imposed without legislative approval. This change would protect businesses, non-profits, and individuals from costly, burdensome regulations.
The existing regulatory review process only allows the General Assembly to pass a concurrent resolution disapproving a regulation. However, a governor must sign the disapproval resolution to bar an agency from enacting the regulation, a highly unlikely scenario.
The people expect their elected representatives, not unaccountable government agencies, to make laws. Lawmakers must ensure state regulators are adhering to legislative intent because overly restrictive rules have severe impacts on our residents—especially following the economic stress associated with COVID-19.
With committee passage, Senate Bill 520 moves to the full Senate for consideration.
Honoring Veterans of Persian Gulf War and Global War on Terrorism
Two new designations could honor veterans of the Persian Gulf War and the Global War on Terrorism under legislation recently approved by the Senate. The bill would designate March 6 as Persian Gulf War Veterans Day and October 7 as Global War on Terrorism Veterans Day.
Under the bill, the governor would be required to encourage schools to observe the contributions of veterans in these conflicts. However, the observations would not be mandatory for schools.
Monday is the Deadline to Register for May 18 Primary Election
Monday, May 3 is the last day to register to vote in the May 18 primary election.
You can register to vote online, by mail or at several government agencies.
Other Key Dates:
May 11, 5 p.m. – Applications for a mail-in or absentee ballot must be received by your county election board.
May 18, 8 p.m. – Voted ballots must be received by your county election office.
Friday is the Final Day to Submit Comments on 2020 General Election
Friday is the final day for Pennsylvanians to share their experience from last year’s election with the Senate Special Committee on Election Integrity and Reform.
The surveys seek input from Pennsylvanians who voted by mail or in person in 2020.
The committee is expected to use the survey responses and testimony gathered during its series of public hearings to produce a report with recommendations that will be presented to the General Assembly.
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