I am pleased to send you my Session Wrap Up e-newsletter. This e-newsletter features events and legislative activities from the Session Week of April 18, 2017.
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Committees Review Lottery Fund, Support for Senior Programs
The Senate Finance Committee, which I chair, and the Senate Aging & Youth Committee held a joint hearing on Tuesday to review the fiscal health of the state Lottery Fund, which provides essential support for programs that benefit senior citizens across the state.
During the first half of the hearing we heard from Lottery Executive Director Drew Svitko, Budget Secretary Randy Albright, and Secretary of Aging Teresa Osborne. Testifiers during the second helf of the hearing included Rebecca May-Cole, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Association of Area Agencies on Aging, Danell Sowers, Executive Director of the Warren/Forest Area Agency on Aging, Krista Geer, Executive Director of Active Aging, Crawford County, Holly Lange, President of the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging, and Jackson Brainerd, policy associate with the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Senate Approves Independent Study of State-Owned Universities
The Senate approved a resolution on Tuesday authorizing an independent study of the future of the State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) to be completed by the end of the year.
Senate Resolution 34 requires the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee (LBFC) to study the future and sustainability of the 14 state-owned universities across the state. The universities include Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester.
Enrollment in Pennsylvania’s four state-related schools (Pitt, Temple, Lincoln and Penn State) is expected to grow by 10 percent over the next four years. Community colleges and Thaddeus Stevens College are also expected to see significant growth over the next four years. Over the same period, PASSHE’s growth is not expected to reach 1 percent.
The LBFC, a bipartisan research agency, has until December 31, 2017 to report back to the General Assembly on its findings.
The Senate also approved bills affecting local government and school districts this week.
Senate Bill 227 gives school boards new options regarding superintendent contracts.
Senate Bill 365 updates the Second Class Township Code regarding the selling of township personal property without requesting bids.
Senate Bills 227 and 365 now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.
The Appropriations Committee approved four bills Tuesday.
Senate Bill 8 reforms state law regarding the seizure and forfeiture of property.
Senate Bill 260 addresses representation of crime victims on the Victims’ Services Advisory Committee within the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.
Senate Bill 554 immunizes child victims of human trafficking from criminal prosecution.
Senate Bill 560 amends the Wiretap Act to allow police officers to use body-worn cameras.
Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure
The Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure Committee approved six bills Tuesday.
Senate Bill 25 amends the state’s Professional Nursing Law to permit qualified Advanced Practice Registered Nurses to practice in their field of specialty independent of a physician after they fulfill a three-year, 3,600-hour collaboration agreement with a doctor.
Senate Bill 242 transfers enforcement authority for the Pennsylvania One Call System from the Department of Labor & Industry to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.
Senate Bill 354 strengthens licensee reporting requirements to the Department of State.
Senate Bill 458 provides new penalties for illegal household goods movers.
Senate Bill 530 updates Act 136 of 1998, the Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists and Professional Counselors Act.
Senate Bill 531 updates the Social Workers, Marriage & Family Therapists and Professional Counselors Act.
Community, Economic & Recreational Development
The Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee approved House Bill 271 on Tuesday. The bill authorizes gaming at qualified airports.
The Senate Local Government Committee approved House Bill 16 on Tuesday. The bill amends the Local Tax Collection Law to prohibit tax payments to an account in an individual’s name and requires the creation of a separate account to be used solely for tax purposes.
The Senate Education Committee approved five bills Wednesday.
Senate Bill 88 prohibits censorship of an American or Pennsylvania historical document based on any religious content.
Senate Bill 93 permits home-schooled or privately tutored students to have access to courses in schools and departments (i.e., vocational school, technical school) of a public school district.
Senate Bill 273 prohibits any form of state funding to go to any institution of higher education that designates itself as a “sanctuary campus,” refuses to share information about undocumented students, or in any way impedes the federal government's ability to enforce federal immigration laws.
Senate Bill 383 clarifies the authority school boards have to allow certain school employees to carry firearms on school property to further enhance security measures.
Senate Bill 592 gives taxpayers an opportunity to examine the terms of employment contracts that the local school board extends to key district employees.
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