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Senator Scott Hutchinson

Dear Friend,

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 January 22, 2018.

If you find this e-newsletter useful, I invite you to visit my website www.senatorscotthutchinson.com for more information about your state government. If you do not wish to receive these e-newsletters, please click the "unsubscribe" button at the bottom of the page. If you would like to contact my office, please go to my web page and click the "contact" button. Please do not "reply" directly to this e-mail.

Sincerely,

Scott


Committee Considers Pumped Storage Hydroelectricty

1/22/18 - Pumped-Storage Hydroelectricity

The Joint Legislative Conservation Committee, which I chair, held its first Environmental Issues Forum of 2018 on Monday.

The forum focused on pumped storage hydroelectricity, a type of energy storage used for improving grid reliability. The discussion was led by Adam Rousselle, a Bucks County entrepreneur who is planning to construct 20 pumped storage facilities across Pennsylvania, many using abandoned mines as water reservoirs.

Pumped storage is often described as a giant liquid battery, pumping water between two large reservoirs to generate and store electricity for use during peak demand. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, pumped storage accounts for 95 percent of the nation’s utility-grade power storage facilities. These stations play a critical role in keeping electricity flowing to homes and businesses by stabilizing the electric power grid.

Local Government Committee Approves My Cost Saving Proposals

The Senate Local Government Committee this week approved a series of bills I sponsored to help local governments save money when they purchase emergency equipment and when they sell items of minimal value.

The bills approved by the committee on Tuesday were developed by the state Local Government Commission, a bicameral, bipartisan legislative service agency of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, which I serve on as a member.

Senate Bill 801 allows boroughs and third-class cities to purchase used equipment, vehicles and other personal property from volunteer emergency service organizations without competitive bidding.

Senate Bill 802 allows first-class townships to purchase used equipment, vehicles and other personal property from volunteer emergency service organizations without competitive bidding.

Senate Bill 803 allows second-class townships to purchase used equipment, vehicles and other personal property from volunteer emergency service organizations without competitive bidding.

Senate Bill 804 allows incorporated towns to purchase used equipment, vehicles and other personal property from volunteer emergency service organizations without competitive bidding.

Senate Bill 947 increases the threshold for requiring public advertising for bids from $1,000 to $2,000 when boroughs and third-class cities sell their personal property.

Senate Bill 948 increases the threshold for requiring public advertising for bids from $1,000 to $2,000 when first-class townships sell their personal property.

Senate Bill 949 increases the threshold for requiring public advertising for bids from $1,000 to $2,000 when incorporated towns sell their personal property.

The bills now go to the full Senate for consideration. Other bills approved by the Local Government Committee on Tuesday were:

House Bill 99 allows boroughs to enter contracts or make purchases without advertising, bidding or price quotations in emergency situations.

Senate Bill 950 provides for a Voluntary Real Estate Sales Verification Form pilot program.

House Bill 1034 creates a standardized procedure for the way authorities handle funds and provides for audits and fiscal reports.

Measure Supporting Slag Industry Sent to Governor

Legislation easing the regulatory burden on Pennsylvania’s slag industry and encouraging the use of this sustainable and environmentally safe material received final legislative approval on Wednesday and was sent to the Governor for enactment into law.

Steel slag is manufactured intentionally as a reliable, cost-effective aggregate that has been used in several capacities in Pennsylvania and many other states for decades. However, steel slag is currently classified as “waste” under state law, which means manufacturers must pursue a special classification or obtain a state permit. Senate Bill 497 eliminates the waste designation for slag when it is sold as a commodity and is not a discarded material.

Two additional bills were sent to the Governor this week.

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

House Bill 1608 renames a Huntingdon County bridge.

Bill Allows for the Proper Disposal of Unused Opioids by Hospice Staff

As part of our continuing efforts to address Pennsylvania’s opioid crisis, the Senate approved a bill that provides for the proper disposal of unused hospice drugs.

Until recently, when a home hospice patient died, unused medications could be discarded by a hospice or homecare provider. A change to federal Drug Enforcement Agency rules now prohibits that practice. The result is home hospice providers cannot dispose of the drugs unless otherwise authorized by state law to dispose of the decedent’s personal property.

This places an unnecessary burden on grieving families as they must find a legal way to dispose of those medications, which has resulted in the intentional or unintentional misuse or abuse of those drugs.

Senate Bill 978, which gives hospice staff the authority to properly destroy unused drugs following a patient’s death, was unanimously approved by the Senate on Tuesday and now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Six additional bills were approved by the Senate this week and sent to the House.

Senate Bill 373 allows patients to authorize payment of insurance benefits directly to dental service providers, a practice known as assignment-of-benefits.

Senate Bill 817 extends a lease.

Senate Bill 827 allows individuals to plan for the management and disposition of their digital assets by providing instructions in a will, trust, or power of attorney.

Senate Bill 851 clarifies ownership of properties that are in the delinquent tax sale process.

Senate Bill 977 provides additional legislative oversight of the regulatory review process.

House Bill 1448 charges the Department of Education with providing information on its website to compare institutions of higher education. The bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.

Senate Calls for Study of PENNDOT/Turnpike Consolidation

The Senate adopted a resolution on Wednesday calling for a study of a potential consolidation of PENNDOT and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission operations.

Senate Resolution 209, of which I am the primary co-sponsor, directs the Joint State Government Commission to study the challenges and opportunities of consolidating the interstate operations of PENNDOT and the Turnpike Commission and to provide a final report with findings of fact, recommendations and any proposed legislative remedies. Audio

Also on Wednesday, the Senate adopted Senate Resolution 228, which establishes a Task Force on Global Education.

Committee Roundup

Appropriations

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved two bills on Monday.

Senate Bill 373 allows patients to authorize payment of insurance benefits directly to dental service providers.

Senate Bill 851 clarifies ownership of properties that are in the delinquent tax sale process.

Labor & Industry

The Senate Labor & Industry Committee approved two bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 963 addresses a recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision related to workers’ compensation.

House Bill 1001 requires state licensure for home inspectors.

Rules & Executive Nominations

The Senate Rules and Executive Nominations Committee approved Senate Bill 977 on Monday. The bill provides additional legislative oversight of the regulatory review process.

Transportation

The Senate Transportation Committee approved four bills on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 880 allows 102-inch wide trailers on Pennsylvania highways.

Senate Bill 1002 renames a bridge.

Senate Bill 1015 adds “Special Emergency Response Team” to the definition of emergency service responders and emergency vehicles in state law.

Senate Bill 1024 increases the distracted driving fine from $50 to $100 in an active work zone or on a highway safety corridor.


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