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Senator John DiSanto

Week of October 23, 2017

In this Issue:

  • Final Budget Plan Sent to Governor
  • Bill to Bring Private Sector Performance-Based Budgeting to State Government Sent to Governor
  • Legislation Boosting Victims’ Voice on Advisory Committee Set for Enactment
  • Measure Increasing Safety during Excavations Receives Final Approval
  • Other Bills Sent to the Governor
  • Bills Sent to the House of Representatives
  • Committee Roundup
  • Up Next

Final Budget Plan Sent to Governor

The General Assembly completed its work on the 2017-18 budget this week by sending the remaining Tax Code bill and other budget-related legislation to the Governor.

House Bill 118 includes omnibus amendments to the Administrative Code.

House Bill 178 includes omnibus amendments to the Public School Code. I supported this bill that includes several important reforms that will:

  • Increase the amount of Educational Improvement Tax Credits (EITC) provided to scholarship organizations by $10 million.
  • Enhance the existing required Alcohol, Chemical and Tobacco Abuse Program for sixth through twelfth graders with a curriculum on opioid abuse prevention.
  • Offer agricultural educational resources and programming for students in kindergarten through secondary schools.
  • Require any professional school employee suspensions for economic reasons to be based on performance ratings instead of seniority.

House Bill 271 expands gaming options in Pennsylvania. I voted against this bill.

Senate Bill 325 is Fiscal Year 2017-18 funding for the University of Pennsylvania.

Senate Bill 326 is Fiscal Year 2017-18 funding for Penn State University.

Senate Bill 327 is Fiscal Year 2017-18 funding for the University of Pittsburgh.

Senate Bill 328 is Fiscal Year 2017-18 funding for Temple University.

Senate Bill 329 is Fiscal Year 2017-18 funding for Lincoln University.

House Bill 674 amends the Fiscal Code. I voted against this bill.

House Bill 542 includes omnibus amendments to the Tax Reform Code. I voted against this bill.

Senate Bill 651 is the Capital Budget Project Itemization Act.

House Bill 785 amends the Capital Facilities Debt Enabling Act.

I am deeply disappointed in how the process has played out over the last four months because I believe that taxpayers’ interests were the last to be considered.

It’s bad public policy to borrow $1.5 billion dollars, expand gambling immensely, and increase any taxes and fees before tightening your belt. It goes against good accounting practices and commonsense.

While my “no” votes didn’t carry the day, I am asking my colleagues to begin considering the priorities for next year’s budget now and to have in place a restrained spending plan by June 30, 2018. Taxpayers deserve better than a repeat of this year.


Bill to Bring Private Sector Performance-Based Budgeting to State Government Sent to Governor

Legislation I’m co-sponsoring to require all departments and agencies to justify their budget requests beginning with dollar one received final legislative approval Wednesday and was sent to the Governor.

Senate Bill 181 will require the Secretary of the Budget and the director of the Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) to establish a schedule of performance-based budget reviews for all agencies at least once every five years. The reviews will include:

  • Detailed descriptions of all agency line item appropriations and programs.
  • Descriptive information and data related to existing performance measures for appropriations and programs.
  • An agency mission statement and goals and objectives for the budget year and successive planning years.
  • Any other information as the IFO may require.

Performance reviews will also be required for all state tax credit programs.

Under the legislation, performance measures must include outcome-based measures, including efficiency measures, activity cost analysis, ratio measures, measures of status improvement of recipient populations, economic outcomes or performance benchmarks against similar state programs or similar programs of other states.

The bill also establishes an independent Performance-Based Budget Board to review the budget plans developed by the IFO and to make recommendations on how each agency’s operations and programs may be made more transparent, effective and efficient.

I urge Governor Wolf to sign this important legislation.


Legislation Boosting Victims’ Voice on Advisory Committee Set for Enactment

Legislation providing broader representation of crime victims on the state Victims’ Services Advisory Committee (VSAC) received final legislative approval this week. Senate Bill 260 now goes to the Governor for enactment into law.

The VSAC is located within the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) and provides perspectives on behalf of all crime victims in the development of the Commission’s policies. It helps PCCD determine funding priorities and grant awards made through various funding streams, including those received under the federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA). In 2016, PCCD received $88 million in VOCA funding to support direct services, such as emergency shelter, crisis intervention, counseling and assistance in participating in the criminal justice system.


Measure Increasing Safety during Excavations Receives Final Approval

Legislation to expand the provisions of the PA One Call law to improve public safety received final legislative approval Monday.

Also known as 811, PA One Call helps prevent damage to underground utilities and avoid tragedies by requiring companies and people to “Call Before You Dig.” That information is then used to determine if there are any lines at-risk in the area, so they can be marked prior to excavation. Senate Bill 242 consolidates enforcement through the PUC, adds coverage of pipelines in Class 1 rural areas, makes damage reporting mandatory, broadens mapping requirements to better locate new and existing lines, and establishes a Damage Prevention Committee to help provide oversight and promote best practices. It is estimated there are more than 6,000 “hits” each year, approximately half involving natural gas lines.


Other Bills Sent to the Governor

House Bill 46 would allow taxpayers to designate a portion of their state income tax refund for pediatric cancer research beginning with tax year 2018 filings.

House Bill 203 amends the Probate, Estates and Fiduciaries Code to increase from $5,000 to $10,000 the amount an employer may pay directly to a surviving relative for the decedent’s final paycheck.

Senate Bill 222 adds Court of Common Pleas judges in several counties across the state.

Senate Bill 690 establishes a mechanism for the initial apportionment of any home rule or optional plan municipality without a mayor that will be dividing into wards either partially or totally.

Senate Bill 691 establishes uniform residential qualifications of office for persons seeking election to, or appointment to fill a vacancy in, a municipal elected office where recent service in the military might interfere with the person’s ability to satisfy the relevant residency requirements.

House Bill 790 establishes the Controlled Plant and Noxious Weed Act to provide for the regulation of noxious weeds and controlled plants and repeals the Noxious Weed Control Law.


Bills Sent to the House of Representatives

Senate Resolution 168 directs the Joint State Government Commission to establish an advisory committee to analyze the potential impact of removing Cambria County from the emissions testing program. 

House Bill 203 amends the Probate, Estates and Fiduciaries Code to increase from $5,000 to $10,000 the amount an employer may pay directly to a surviving relative for the decedent’s final paycheck. The bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate Amendments.  

Senate Resolution 227 urges the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to swiftly consider the United States Department of Energy’s proposed Grid Resiliency Pricing Rule and implement policies and adopt tariffs to ensure fuel-secure generation resources receive proper compensation. I voted against this measure.  

Senate Bill 542 permits pharmacists to dispense emergency prescription refills for up to 30 days pursuant to certain restrictions.

Senate Bill 625 requires the flying of a POW/MIA flag at rest areas and welcome centers.

Senate Bill 676 addresses ongoing funding deficiencies in the Workers’ Compensation Uninsured Employers Guarantee Fund.

Senate Bill 822 requires the flying of a POW/MIA flag at state-owned properties.

Senate Bill 900 transfers a property title.

Senate Bill 921 conveys a property.

Senate Bill 935 addresses time of service for the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission.

House Bill 1388 changes the expiration date of Children’s Health Insurance Program from December 31, 2017 to December 31, 2019 and makes a clarifying exemption to the program’s expiration if federal funding for the program extends beyond December 31, 2019.

House Bill 1490 places the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority under the oversight of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. The bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.


Committee Roundup

Aging & Youth

The Senate Aging and Youth Committee approved House Bill 425 on Wednesday. The bill provides for a COLA exemption for PACE/PACENET recipients through December 31, 2019.

The committee held a joint public hearing Tuesday with the Senate Health and Human Services Committee to review the release of the latest Lyme Disease Task Force report. Hearing Video & Written Testimony

Appropriations

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved eight bills on Monday.

House Bill 46 would allow taxpayers to designate a portion of their state income tax refund for pediatric cancer research beginning with tax year 2018 filings.

Senate Bill 113 would allow family members to have access and visitation rights with regard to a family member who is incapacitated and under court-appointed guardianship.

House Bill 203 amends the Probate, Estates and Fiduciaries Code to increase from $5,000 to $10,000 the amount an employer may pay directly to a surviving relative for the decedent’s final paycheck.

Senate Bill 625 would require the flying of a POW/MIA flag at rest areas and welcome centers.

House Bill 674 amends the Fiscal Code.

Senate Bill 775 establishes the Pennsylvania Museum Preservation Fund.

Senate Bill 822 would require the flying of a POW/MIA flag at state-owned properties.

House Bill 1388 changes the expiration date of CHIP from December 31, 2017 to December 31, 2019 and prohibits the use of funds for sex change procedures.

The Appropriations Committee approved two bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 52 establishes the National Guard Youth Challenge Program.

Senate Bill 935 addresses time of service for the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission.

The Appropriations Committee approved two bills on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 792 sets labeling requirements for lawn fertilizer. 

Senate Bill 936 requires the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry to adopt an evidence-based drug formulary for Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation program. 

Banking & Insurance

The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee approved Senate Bill 373 on Tuesday. The bill allows patients to authorize payment of insurance benefits directly to their dental service providers, a practice known as assignment-of-benefits.

The committee held a public hearing Tuesday on Senate Bill 637, which requires pharmaceutical manufacturers to disclose certain aspects of their drug pricing. Hearing Video

Communications & Technology

The Senate Communications and Technology Committee held a public hearing Wednesday on Senate Bill 914, which would create a state Office of Information Technology.

Community, Economic & Recreational Development

The Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee approved Senate Bill 234 on Tuesday. The bill would establish the Property Assessed Clean Energy program.

Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure

The Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee approved Senate Resolution 227 on Tuesday. The measure urges the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to swiftly consider the United States Department of Energy’s proposed Grid Resiliency Pricing Rule and implement policies and adopt tariffs to ensure fuel-secure generation resources receive proper compensation.

Education

The Senate Education Committee approved four measures on Tuesday.

Senate Resolution 228 establishes a Task Force on Global Education.

Senate Bill 521 adds CPR instruction to the state education curriculum for high school students.

Senate Bill 540 allows students who are performing at events and funerals honoring our veterans to be excused from school, and allow that time to be counted toward volunteering or community service requirements. 

House Bill 1448  charges the Department of Education with creating a website to compare institutions of higher education.

Environmental Resources & Energy 

The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee held a public hearing Tuesday on Senate Bill 800, which updates state law to promote recycling electronics and other covered devices. Hearing Video & Written Testimony 

Game & Fisheries

The Senate Game and Fisheries Committee approved Senate Bill 935 on Monday. The bill addresses time of service for the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission. 

Labor & Industry

The Senate Labor and Industry Committee approved four bills on Monday.

Senate Bill 537 and Senate Bill 538 provide for an Athletic Leave of Absence for state and school employees who have qualified as a member of a United States team for competition in a sport sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee.

Senate Bill 936 requires the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry to adopt an evidence-based drug formulary for Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation program.  

State Government

The Senate State Government Committee held a public hearing Tuesday on Senate Bill 595, allowing the electronic notarization of documents where the signer appears before the notary by means of real-time audio-video communication. Hearing Video & Written Testimony 

Transportation

The Senate Transportation Committee approved six measures on Wednesday.

Senate Resolution 209 directs the Joint State Government Commission to study the consolidation of interstate operations of the Department of Transportation and the Turnpike Commission.

Senate Bill 894 renames a highway.

House Bill 1294 allows motorcycles to be equipped with a special registration plate for Purple Heart recipients.

House Bill 1602 renames a bridge.

House Bill 1608 renames a bridge.

House Bill 1778 renames a bridge.


Up Next

The Senate returns to voting session Monday, November 13  at 1 p.m. You can watch it live at PASenateGOP.com.


For more information on issues of importance to central Pennsylvania, please visit www.senatordisanto.com and connect with me on Facebook and Twitter.

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