“As revelations and allegations about the conduct of public officials in Pennsylvania continue to weaken public confidence in the General Assembly, it is imperative that we make significant, immediate changes. A ban on cash gifts to legislators will be a strong step forward.”

Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) announcing with Sen. Lloyd Smucker (R-Lancaster) plans to introduce legislation to impose an absolute ban on legislators accepting cash gifts from lobbyists, principals, consultants and others who seek to influence the legislative process.


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Variable Electric Rates, Indigent Criminal Defense, Health Exchange Navigators

Senate Convenes Monday at 1 p.m.

The Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee , chaired by Sen. Tommy Tomlinson (R-Bucks), will hold a public hearing on variable electric rates. (Tues., 9:30 a.m., Room 8E-B)

The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery), will hold a public hearing on Senate Bill 979, Indigent Criminal Defense Representation, followed by a meeting to consider House Bill 1154. (Tues., 10:30 a.m., N. Office Bldg. Room 1)

The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee , chaired by Sen. Don White (R-Indiana), will hold a public hearing on Senate Bill 1268, health exchange navigators and consumer protection, sponsored by Sen. John Eichelberger (R-Blair). (Wed., 9 a.m., N. Office Bldg. Room 1)

Senate Committee Schedule
Hearings will be streamed live at
PASenateGOP.com.

Senator-Elect Scott Wagner to Take Oath of Office Wednesday

Senator-elect Scott Wagner is expected to be sworn into office Wednesday at 11 a.m. in the Senate Chamber. Senator-elect Wagner was elected March 18 to represent the 28th Senatorial District, which includes part of York County. The swearing in will be streamed live at www.pasenategop.com. For more on Senator-elect Wagner, please see In the Spotlight, below.

Review

Senator Baker, Senator Smucker to Introduce Cash Gift Ban

Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) and Sen. Lloyd Smucker (R-Lancaster) announced plans to introduce legislation to impose an absolute ban on legislators accepting cash gifts from lobbyists, principals, consultants and others who seek to influence the legislative process.

In addition to introducing a bill banning cash gifts, which will include U.S. and foreign currency, money orders, checks, gift cards and certificates, and prepaid debit and credit cards, Senators Baker and Smucker announced plans to introduce a new Senate Rule to impose the same ban on cash gifts to Senators and Senate staff.

Senator Smucker: “Banning cash gifts to legislators is long overdue. As recent events have unfortunately demonstrated, Pennsylvania continues to be behind the curve nationally in regard to strong ethics rules and laws. We must, and we can, do better.”

Senator Vulakovich Introduces Legislative Reform Measure

Sen. Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny) introduced legislation requiring elected officials to provide receipts in order to receive reimbursement from the Commonwealth.

Senate Bill 1291 is now before the Senate State Government Committee for consideration.

Currently, House and Senate members can submit for an “Unvouchered Per Diem” – meaning legislators can claim up to $159 daily for performing legislative duties outside of their legislative districts and while in Harrisburg without submitting receipts.

The bill represents one portion of Senator Vulakovich’s State Government Reform Plan, which will include legislation requiring all state government employees to contribute the same health care co-payment and legislation eliminating – with very few exceptions – personal state cars for state employees.

Senator Vulakovich: “There have been too many media reports questioning the integrity of the state’s unvouchered per diem system of reimbursement and thereby questioning the integrity of the user of the system. It’s time we end this practice and make the system more accountable.”

Legislation to Resolve UPMC-Highmark Contract Dispute Introduced

Legislation sponsored by Sen. Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny) to resolve the ongoing contractual dispute between UPMC and Highmark in Allegheny County was unveiled March 24.

UPMC and Highmark have a contract that expires on December 31, 2014. At that time, individuals with Highmark health insurance could be denied access to UPMC facilities or be forced to pay higher out-of-network expenses.

Senate Bill 1247 and Senate Bill 1248 would require institutions like UPMC, Highmark Health (Allegheny Health Network) and the Geisinger Health System — which are considered “Integrated Delivery Networks” (IDN) that operate hospitals and doctors as well as provide insurance — to contract with any willing insurer. For more on the legislation, please see Fast Facts, below.

In the Spotlight

Born and raised on a farm in York Township, Senator-elect Scott Wagner is a lifelong resident of York County. A graduate of Dallastown Area High School, he started his first small business at age 20 and has since worked with and led numerous businesses, helping them to improve their operations and create economic opportunity.

Senator-elect Wagner is currently president and owner of York-based Penn Waste, Inc. and KBS Trucking in Thomasville, Pennsylvania.

As a small business owner, Wagner supports policies and programs that help to create jobs, limit government spending and ease the tax and regulatory burden on job-creators. A strong advocate for government reform, he will work to make state government accessible and accountable to the people he serves.

His top priorities as a new member of the Senate include bringing fiscal responsibility to state government, controlling property taxes, helping to spur economic growth and protecting and defending constitutional freedoms.

Wagner is active in the York non-profit community and has served in organizations promoting entrepreneurship and leadership development. He is a past recipient of the South Central PA Entrepreneur of the Year Award and Distinguished Service Award.

Fast Facts

Legislation to Resolve UPMC-Highmark Contract Dispute

Senate Bill 1247

  • Requires hospitals operating as part of an IDN to contract with any willing insurer.
  • Permits hospitals operating as part of an IDN to contract for its services at any price or discount that results in adequate reimbursement rates.
  • Prohibits hospitals operating as part of an IDN when contracting with insurers from using contractual provisions and engaging in business practices that impede the availability of quality health care.
  • If a mutually agreeable contract cannot be reached, a contract will be imposed on the parties through mandatory binding arbitration.
  • Establishes a Health Care Competition and Oversight Board to ensure that an effectively operating competitive marketplace exists in Pennsylvania.

Senate Bill 1248

  • Requires hospital-owned physician practices operating as part of an IDN to enter into a contract with any willing health insurance carrier.
  • If a mutually agreeable contract cannot be reached, a contract will be imposed upon the parties through binding arbitration.
  • Prohibits the use of restrictive covenants in employment contracts.