In this Edition:
UCC Service Center Relief Gains Final Legislative Approval
The Senate granted final legislative approval Wednesday of a bill that provides emergency funding to ease the hardships Pennsylvania’s unemployed workers have endured since Governor Wolf closed three Unemployment Compensation Service Centers late last year.
Senate Bill 250 authorizes a $15 million transfer from the Unemployment Compensation Fund (UCF) to the Service and Infrastructure Improvement Fund. The bill now goes to the Governor for his signature and enactment into law.
The Governor ordered the closure of service centers in Allentown, Altoona and Lancaster after his request for a transfer of $57 million in additional funding from the UCF failed to receive legislative approval before the end of the 2015-16 Legislative Session on November 30, 2016.
For four years, the Department of Labor & Industry tapped the UCF for a total of $178 million for technology upgrades. That spending is currently under review by the state Auditor General and the technology upgrades were not completed.
The unilateral decision by the Governor to close the three service centers substantially increased the demand on the five remaining centers: Duquesne, Erie, Harrisburg, Indiana and Scranton. This resulted in thousands of unemployed Pennsylvanians being forced to endure lengthy waiting times to receive the services and benefits they deserved.
Senate Bill 250 allocates $10.8 million for personnel related to claims processing and service to claimants, $2.3 million for personnel related to tax services, $1.4 million for personnel related to appeals, and $500,000 for any of the above or personnel related to program integrity and the detection and prevention of overpayments.
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, enrollment growth at State System schools 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.
Other Bills Approved by the Senate and Sent to the House of Representatives
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.
The Senate 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 Senate Communications and Technology 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 Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee approved House Bill 271 on Tuesday. The bill authorizes gaming at qualified airports.
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.
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 will reconvene Monday at 1 p.m. You can watch session live at PASenateGOP.com.
Twitter and Facebook: I post regular updates on legislative action, committee developments, useful state-related information, happenings in the 24th Senatorial District and more on Twitter @SenatorMensch and on my Facebook page.If you find this e-newsletter useful, I invite you to visit my website www.senatormensch.com for more information about your state government.
Red Hill Office
Lansdale District Office
If you do not wish to receive this email, click here to unsubscribe.
2017 © Senate of Pennsylvania