“The Senate Majority Caucus Chair plays an integral role in the day-to-day operation of Senate, especially on session days. Senator Gordner’s diligent work ethic and strong organizational skills will be a tremendous asset to the Republican Caucus as he takes on this position.”

Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) on the unanimous election of Sen. John Gordner (R-Columbia) as Senate Majority Caucus Chair.


Preview

Senate Session, Governor’s Budget Address

Today at 11:30 a.m., Gov. Tom Corbett will present his proposed 2014-15 state budget to a joint session of the General Assembly. The Senate Appropriations Committee, chaired by Sen. Jake Corman (R-Centre), will hold three weeks of public hearings on the spending plan beginning February 10. (See Fast Facts for a schedule overview.)

The Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee, chaired by Sen. David Argall (R-Schuylkill), will hold a public hearing on Act 90 of 2010, the Neighborhood Blight Reclamation and Revitalization Act. (Tues., 10 a.m., Room 8E-B)

Senate Committee Schedule
Watch hearings live at PASenateGOP.com.

Review

Senators Hear Support for Federal Flood Insurance Fix

The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee, chaired by Sen. Don White (R-Indiana), and the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, chaired by Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming), heard testimony from statewide organizations, county officials and residents concerning the implementation of the federal flood insurance law, known as the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 (BW-12).

The hearing brought to light the negative impacts that the federal law will have on residents and businesses statewide. On October 1, 2013, approximately 4 million property and business owners nationwide saw their flood insurance premiums skyrocket as the result of BW-12. For more on the hearing please see In the Spotlight, below.
Hearing Video & Testimony

Hearing Explores PA Lottery Expansion

The Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Sen. Mike Brubaker (R-Lancaster), held a public hearing on Wednesday on possible expansion of the Pennsylvania Lottery.

The panel heard from Revenue Secretary Dan Meuser, Lottery Executive Director Sil Lutkewitte and others on the potential impacts of expanding the Lottery to include games such as Keno.
Hearing Video & Testimony

Committee Discusses Medical Cannabis Act

The Senate Law and Justice Committee, chaired by Sen. Chuck McIlhinney (R-Bucks), held a public hearing January 28 to collect testimony on Senate Bill 1182, the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act, sponsored by Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon).

Nearly 20 individuals and organizations, including health care professionals, researchers, veterans and the families of children who would benefit from the bill’s passage, offered a variety of viewpoints at the hearing.
Hearing Video & Testimony

Senator Gordner Elected Majority Caucus Chair

Senate Republicans unanimously elected Sen. John Gordner (R-Columbia) Majority Caucus Chair for the remainder of the 2013-2014 session. Senator Gordner replaces former Sen. Mike Waugh (R-York), who recently resigned to accept a position as Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Farm Show.

As Caucus Chair, Senator Gordner will assist the Majority Leader and Majority Whip in formulation of the Senate’s daily legislative calendar.  He will also preside over the Republican caucus meetings.

Senator Gordner previously served as the Majority Caucus Administrator.  He is also the Chair of the Senate Labor and Industry Committee.  He has been a member of the Senate since 2003 and previously served five terms in the House of Representatives from the 109th Legislative District.

Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware): “Senator Gordner has earned a reputation for being one of the most hard-working and thorough members of the Senate. His colleagues in the Senate Republican Caucus know that the thoughtful, balanced approach he takes to representing the 27th District will serve him well in this key leadership role.”

Measure to Improve Safety on School Buses Heads for Enactment

The Senate passed legislation Wednesday that will improve safety and allow school districts to resolve disciplinary incidents on school buses faster and with more certainty.

Senate Bill 57, sponsored by Sen. Richard Alloway(R-Franklin), permits audio taping on school buses. Currently videotaping can be done on school buses but audio taping is not allowed due to concerns that it could be a violation of the Wiretap Act.  The bill now goes to the governor for his signature and enactment into law.

For two decades, school districts have used video monitoring of school buses for student security and discipline purposes. This has been a valuable tool in resolving discipline action and has helped reduce violent acts on school buses because the students know that there is a camera on the bus.

Bill Will Allow More Dentists in Underserved Areas

The Senate approved and sent to the governor House Bill 1056, a measure requiring the State Board of Dentistry to issue a temporary volunteer license to an individual who meets all of the specific requirements.

Current law does not allow for out-of-state dentists to volunteer their services in Pennsylvania.  By allowing for volunteer licenses, this legislation would help citizens in underserved areas receive dental care. Volunteers would not be permitted to receive any remuneration and must have an unrestricted dental license from their home state.  The bill was approved by the Senate Consumer Affairs and Professional Licensure Committee, chaired by Sen. Tommy Tomlinson (R-Bucks), in April.

In the Spotlight

Testifiers at the joint hearing discussed their experiences with BW-12, and the negative impacts should the National Flood Insurance Program legislation not be repealed or amended.

Dr. Vince Matteo, President and CEO of the Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce, said Congress needs to repeal the law.

Kim Skumanick, President of the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors, said the law has hurt home sales, citing a home in which the monthly flood insurance premium rose from $788 to $7,015, driving away a buyer.

Barry Denk, Executive Director of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, testified that among Pennsylvania’s 2,562 municipalities, 218 (9 percent) have a high percentage of flood insurance policyholders, 1,998 (78 percent) have less than 5 percent, and 346 (13 percent) have no policyholders.

The hearing also provided an opportunity for local homeowners to voice their concerns with the federal law.

Senator White: “Something must be done to offer relief to those who are being hit with enormous, unaffordable increases in their premiums. The hearing shed light on this important topic and I hope it will encourage our colleagues in Congress to act quickly to resolve the current problem.” 

Senator Yaw: “Without a change to the current law, property owners across Pennsylvania will not be able to afford flood insurance, that’s the bottom line. We will see homeowners simply walk away from their homes and businesses. It seems to me this federal legislation was passed without thorough planning or good judgment.”

Fast Facts

 

Senate Appropriations Committee Budget Hearings

Monday, Feb. 10

Executive Offices

Judiciary

Ind. Fiscal Office

Tuesday, Feb. 11

Attorney General

Treasury

Auditor General

Wednesday, Feb. 12

General Services

Drug & Alcohol Programs

Insurance

Military and Veteran Affairs

Thursday, Feb. 13

Public Utility Commission

Aging

State Related Universities

Tuesday, Feb. 18

Revenue

SERS/PSERS

Environmental Protection

Wednesday, Feb. 19

Gaming Control Board

Conservation and Natural Resources

Liquor Control Board

Health

Thursday, Feb. 20

Corrections/Probation & Parole

State System of Higher Ed.

PA Emergency Management Agency

Monday, Feb. 24

Public Welfare

Community and Economic Development

PA Higher Education Agency

Tuesday, Feb. 25

Transportation

Labor & Industry

Agriculture

Wednesday, Feb. 26

State Police/Homeland Security

Banking & Securities

Education