View in browser

Welcome to "Mike's Memo," an update on what's happening in the 48th Legislative District, the State Capitol, and the progress of my legislative priorities. If you haven't done so already, please take a few moments to visit my website at to learn more about issues that may affect you and your family.

Week of December 18, 2017

Bills Pass Senate, Go to House for Further Consideration
All bills passed unanimously.
Senate Bill 196 – allows judges to order electronic monitoring devices in protection for abuse orders;
Senate Bill 354 – strengthens reporting requirements for license holders under the PA Department of State Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs;
Senate Bill 764 – establishes a recreational vehicle law;
Senate Bill 798 – updates the PA Military Community Enhancement Commission;
Senate Bill 844 – expands legal standing for those seeking custody of children who don’t have both biological parents;
Senate Bill 892 – updates the Chiropractic Practice Act regarding clinical training;
House Bill 1175 – strengthens penalties under the Lobbyist Disclosure Law.

Bills Pass Senate, Go to Governor for Further Action
All bills passed unanimously unless otherwise noted.
House Bill 411 – updates the Bingo Law;
Senate Bill 446 – provides regulation and certification of drug and alcohol recovery and transition houses;
Senate Bill 458 – strengthens penalties for illegal household movers;
House Bill 561 – repeals the sunset provision for administrative subpoenas in child pornography investigations;
House Bill 1139 – updates the Newborn Protection Act;
House Bill 1231 – expands the PA Department of Military & Veterans Affairs’ Veterans Registry;
House Bill 1234 – aligns lengths of stay in Ambulatory Surgery Centers with federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services;
House Bill 1388 – (43-6) reauthorizes the PA Children’s Health Insurance Program;
House Bill 1420 – aligns audit requirements for financial reports under the Solicitation of Funds for Charitable Purposes Act to federal law;
House Bill 1421 – updates to the Solicitation of Funds for Charitable Purposes Act to assist in filing registration statements;
House Bill 1902 – streamlines PA Liquor Control Board licensing process;
House Bill 1915 – (43-5) appropriates $115.2 Million to the PA Department of Labor & Industry for Unemployment Compensation operations and technology upgrades.

Bills Signed into Law by the Governor
Senate Bill 785 – Act 57 – expands the use of low-speed vehicles on public highways;
House Bill 165 – Act 56 – creates two new Military decorations: the PA Medal of Achievement and the PA Veterans Service Award.

Executive Nomination Unanimously Confirmed by the Senate
Francis C. Peitz, Jr., Pittsburgh – Constables’ Education and Training Board

Senate State Government & Transportation Committee Public Hearing
The Senate State Government and Senate Transportation Committees held a joint public hearing on December 12 to discuss motor voter, unlawful voting and cybersecurity.  If you missed it, you can watch below.

12/12/17 - Motor Voter, Unlawful Voting and Cyber Security

Column: Timing is Everything
One of my goals as chair of the Senate State Government Committee has been – and continues to be:  improving Pennsylvania’s electoral processes.  The right to vote is one of the most emphasized guarantees of our US Constitution.  Four separate amendments specifically state the right of citizens to vote “shall not be denied or abridged.”

The Committee held a number of hearings in 2017 and more are planned for 2018.  We’ve also reported several election-related bills to the full Senate for consideration.

Not surprisingly, interest in elections has greatly increased since the 2016 Presidential Election when 58% of registered voters actually voted (68% in Pennsylvania).  At the same time, perspectives on elections has shifted.  I guess timing is everything.

In 2013, I cosponsored legislation to change how Pennsylvania’s Electoral College votes are awarded.  The Electoral College was established by Article II of the US Constitution and was revised by the 12th, 14th, and 23rd Amendments.  Its original purpose was to protect minority interests – smaller states feared their voices would be drowned out by bigger states.

Prior to the Election of 1800, electors were chosen within each state by Congressional District.  In 1800, Vice President Thomas Jefferson received eight of Pennsylvania’s 15 Electoral College votes and President John Adams received the remaining seven.

While Jefferson received more electoral votes nationally than Adams, he and his Vice Presidential candidate, Aaron Burr, tied in the Electoral College; it took the US House of Representatives 36 tries to make Jefferson President and Burr Vice President.  Afterwards, the 12th Amendment was adopted to require separate Electoral College votes for President and Vice President.  At the same time, states began to change how their delegates were chosen.

The Constitution leaves to the states how electors are selected:  “in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct.”  Unlike amendments to the US Constitution, which require two-thirds approval in both houses of Congress plus approval by 38 states, states decide and can change how they award Electoral College votes whenever they want.

After the Election of 1800, states began to move away from proportional voting to “winner take all.”  By 1836, all states were using winner take all (although Maine and Nebraska returned to proportional voting in 1969 and 1991).

The 2013 bill I supported would have returned Pennsylvania to proportional Electoral College voting by Congressional District.  I believed this change would have increased voter turnout as political minorities would again believe their votes mattered (i.e., rural areas thinking urban areas make their votes meaningless).

However, opponents of proportional voting by Congressional District were strident.  They said it was just a backdoor effort to inject partisanship into Pennsylvania’s Presidential Elections.  They added proportional voting would make a complicated system even more complicated, further reducing voter interest and voter turnout.

The bill’s opponents prevailed as it never moved and it hasn’t been reintroduced.  But today, some of those who opposed that legislation are now calling for changes in the Electoral College – including moving away from winner take all.  I wonder why?

I guess timing is everything.

Contact Information
Please feel free to contact me at any time on state-related issues that are of concern to you. I may be reached through my website or my Lebanon or Harrisburg offices.

When contacting my office by e-mail, mail, or telephone, please be sure to share your e-mail, telephone number, and address so that we can follow up with you in a timely manner. Many inquiries can be handled with a phone call or email.

Was this message forwarded to you? Visit my website if you would like to receive your own copy of "Mike's Memo."

If you no longer wish to receive "Mike's Memo," please click here to unsubscribe.

Privacy Policy
2017 © Senate of Pennsylvania