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Senator Bob Mensch


In this Edition:

  • Senate Acts to Complete Work on State Budget
  • Pennsylvania’s Financial State – An Op-Ed by State Senator Bob Mensch
  • Senate Approves Four Bills
  • Committee Roundup
  • Up Next

Senate Acts to Complete Work on State Budget

The Senate took steps Wednesday to complete the 2017-18 state budget.

The Senate voted 43-7 on Wednesday to non-concur on House amendments to House Bill 453 and empowered Senate President Pro-Tempore Joe Scarnati to appoint members of the Senate to serve on a bicameral Conference Committee to iron out a final Fiscal Code component for the FY 2017-18 budget package.

A Conference Committee, made up of members representing the General Assembly’s four caucuses, is created when the Senate and House of Representatives are deadlocked on developing language for a bill. Once a compromise is reached, the Committee will submit a report to the two chambers for an “up or down” vote -- meaning no amendments can be made and the compromise must be considered on its own merit.

Pennsylvania’s Financial State – An Op-Ed by State Senator Bob Mensch

As I write this, in September, the State is without a final budget. In the past decade, we’ve had on-time budgets in only four years. The question is why? For a very long time I’ve been arguing that our deficits, along with our budget stalemates, are predictable given the lack of growth in the PA economy. If PA is ever to solve our state budget woes, it is essential that we focus on our state’s economic growth.

Over the years, I’ve suggested to my legislative colleagues that governments do not create a strong economy, we enable (or hamper) economy. Governments enable economies to prosper only if there are sound, reasonable, and effective tax and regulatory policies. PA suffers in these two, but most especially in the area of tax policies.

PA has the most oppressive business tax structure in the nation. Some will argue that businesses should pay more, but the larger question is how are jobs created? They are created primarily through businesses. Where do most of our citizens earn a living? They work for a business. Therefore, it stands to reason that we all benefit if businesses can perform more effectively and provide new and better paying jobs.

So often we seek to punish businesses because it seems to be the political thing to do. But at the end of the day, by punishing businesses, we also punish residents – the taxpayers. That doesn’t seem right to me. More

Senate Approves Four Bills

The Senate approved four bills this week.

Senate Bill 135 would permit the use of a leashed tracking dog to track white-tailed deer to recover an animal which has been legally harvested or wounded.

Senate Bill 252 amends the Pittsburgh Parking Authority’s enabling act to assist in supporting private development.

Senate Bill 751 provides for regulation and licensure of mortgage servicers.

Senate Bill 785 would allow golf cart use on highway crossovers for recreational purposes as well as golf cart and low-speed utility vehicle use on highways for maintenance purposes.

The bills now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Committee Roundup

Appropriations

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved four bills on Monday.

Senate Bill 251 would permit all municipal police to utilize radar for speed enforcement.

Senate Bill 252 amends the Pittsburgh Parking Authority’s enabling act to assist in supporting private development.

Senate Bill 552 redirects funds from the Veterans Trust Fund that came from the Pennsylvania Monuments License Registration Plate to the new Pennsylvania Veterans' Monuments and Memorial Trust Fund and would require those funds be used for the operation and maintenance of monuments designated by Department of Military & Veterans Affairs in consultation with the State Veterans’ Commission.

Senate Bill 564 requires PENNDOT to include protective fencing in the construction of new bridges and major renovations of existing bridges over interstate highways.

The Appropriations Committee approved Senate Bill 530 on Wednesday. The bill updates Act 136 of 1998, the Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists and Professional Counselors Act. After that vote, Committee Executive Director Greg Jordan was honored for his 32 years of state service as he attended his final meeting before his upcoming retirement.

State Government

The Senate State Government Committee approved six bills on Tuesday.

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

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

Senate Bill 826 is a land conveyance bill.

House Bill 1287 is a land conveyance bill.

House Bill 1420 sets new auditing thresholds for charitable organizations that receive annual contributions.

House Bill 1421 makes changes to the filing time frame for Charitable Organizations, Professional Fundraising Counsels and Professional Solicitors.

Judiciary

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved six bills on Tuesday.

House Bill 561 amends the Crimes Code to repeal a sunset provision relating to the issuance of administrative subpoenas in an investigation involving child sexual exploitation or abuse.

Senate Bill 742 provides for a comprehensive bill of rights in Pennsylvania for survivors of sexual assault.

Senate Bill 790 establishes a charitable trust to help reverse the direction of prison-bound youth.

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

Senate Bill 854 removes “interference with custody of children” from the offenses for which an offender must be included on the sex offender registry.

Senate Bill 883 provides for automatic expungement of criminal records for any offense that has been the subject of an executive pardon.

Law & Justice Committeee

The Senate Law and Justice Committee held a public hearing Tuesday on Liquor Control Enforcement of “Stop and Go’s” and illegal gambling devices. The panel heard from the Pennsylvania State Police Liquor Control Enforcement Division on the estimated 50,000 illegal slot machines in Pennsylvania, and discussed how they proliferated and what can be done to address the problem. Hearing Video

Rules & Executive Nominations

The Senate Rules & Executive Nominations Committee considered House amendments to House Bill 453 on Wednesday. The bill is the Fiscal Code component of the Fiscal Year 2017-18 budget package. The bill was reported to the full Senate, as a procedural vote, prior to the non-concurrence vote by the full chamber.

Transportation

The Senate Transportation Committee approved five bills on Wednesday.

House Bill 407 would allow for contributions to the Pediatric Cancer Research Fund when renewing a driver's license, identification card, or vehicle registration electronically through PENNDOT's website.

Senate Bill 796 exempts CDL licensees from the change of address fees if they have not actually moved from their home and the change of address is due to a governmental action beyond their control.

Senate Bill 837 is a highway renaming bill.

Senate Bill 887 is a highway renaming bill.

Senate Bill 888 would improve access to disabled parking spaces by prohibiting the obstruction of access aisles and strengthening enforcement measures.

The committee also held its annual hearing with the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission to collect testimony on their budget and program priorities. You can view the hearing here.


Up Next

The Senate is in recess to the call of the President Pro Tempore. The next scheduled session day is Monday, October 16. You can watch session live at SenatorMensch.com.


Stay Connected

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