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Senator Mario Scavello

In this Edition:

  • Our Next Veterans Assistance Day is Tuesday
  • Senate Approves Pension Reform Measure
  • Other Bills Approved by the Senate and Sent to the House
  • More Options for Career and Technical Education Students
  • Committee Round-Up
  • Around the 40th District
  • Next Week

Our Next Veterans Assistance Day is Tuesday

I will offer my next Veterans Assistance Day in partnership with the American Legion on June 13 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at my Tannersville office (2989 Route 611, Suite 103 Tannersville, PA). This service is offered on the second Tuesday of each month.

Call my office to make your appointment: 570-620-4326

A service officer with the American Legion Pennsylvania Department will be on site to assist veterans with issues including: compensation and pension claims, education benefits, enrollment in the VA health care system, burial and survivor benefits, state benefits, and obtaining military personnel and medical records.


Senate Approves Pension Reform Measure

The Senate approved legislation Monday to reform Pennsylvania’s public pension plans for state and public school employees. The changes would apply to new hires. Pension benefits already earned by current employees and retirees would not be affected.

The measure was supported by both parties in the Senate and House of Representatives, as well as by Gov. Wolf, who is expected to sign it into law.

Senate Bill 1 offers all new public-sector employees three retirement planning options – a defined contribution plan similar to the 401(k) system offered by most employers in the private sector, or one of two hybrid plans that combine a 401 (k)-style system with a variation of the current defined benefit plan.

The measure is projected to save more than $5 billion and shield taxpayers from $20 billion or more in additional liabilities if state investments fail to meet projections. In addition, the bill creates a new Pension Management and Asset Investment Review Commission to study ways to reduce investment costs with the goal of saving an additional $3 billion.


Other Bills Approved by the Senate and Sent to the House

Senate Bill 353 is a Chester County land conveyance bill.

Senate Bill 434 reduces the allotted period of time that is necessary in order to acquire a title of a blighted or abandoned property through adverse possession under various situations and circumstances.

Senate Bill 497 eliminates the “waste” designation for steel slag when it is sold as a commodity and is not a discarded material.

Senate Bill 589 increases the maximum allowable gross weight for commercial vehicles powered by natural gas from 80,000 pounds to 82,000 pounds.

Senate Bill 624 amends the Bituminous Mine Subsidence and Land Conservation Act, providing for planned subsidence and for retroactivity.


More Options for Career and Technical Education Students

The Senate approved a measure on Tuesday that provides career and technical education (CTE) students with additional options to meet state graduation requirements.

House Bill 202, which amends state law regarding Keystone Exams and alternative testing for CTE students, now goes to the Governor for his signature and enactment into law. House Bill 202 would allow CTE students to show career readiness through measures such as industry-based competency certifications.


Committee Round-Up

Appropriations

The Senate Appropriations Committee met Sunday and approved Senate Bill 1, legislation to alter public pensions for state workers and school employees.

On Monday, the committee approved six additional bills.

House Bill 202 eliminates the statutory requirement for the development and implementation of Keystone Exams in English Composition, Algebra II, Geometry, U.S. History, Chemistry, Civics and Government, and World History.

Senate Bill 458 provides new penalties for illegal household goods movers.

Senate Bill 561 would require the approval of the General Assembly and the Governor for all new regulations with an economic impact or cost exceeding $1 million to the Commonwealth, its political subdivisions, and the private sector.

Senate Bill 624 amends the Bituminous Mine Subsidence and Land Conservation Act, providing for planned subsidence and for retroactivity.

Senate Bill 630 reforms insurance licensure requirements for travel agents.

Senate Bill 646 amends Act 101 of 1988, the Municipal Waste Planning Recycling and Waste Reduction Act.

Appropriations Subcommittee on Infrastructure, Environment & Government Operations

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Infrastructure, Environment & Government Operations held a public hearing Wednesday to discuss Governor Tom Wolf’s proposed municipal fee for State Police coverage.

Part of the Governor’s proposed state budget includes a plan to impose a $25 per-capita fee on municipalities without their own police force. Hearing Video

Communications & Technology

The Senate Communications and Technology Committee, the Senate Law and Justice Committee and the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee held a public hearing Wednesday on the status of the statewide emergency radio system. First authorized in 1996, the system was to allow state and county emergency responders, as well as local police, fire and EMS, to communicate with each on a shared network. However, the mobile radio component has been plagued with problems and remains unreliable. Hearing Video & Testimony

Education

On Monday, the Senate Education Committee held a public hearing on the use of graduation requirements as a tools for teacher evaluation and accountability.

Among the 40 states implementing multi-measure teacher evaluation systems that include objective measures of student learning and growth, six states, including Pennsylvania, are implementing systems that may include graduation rate data and that reference specific standardized, national exams. Hearing Video & Testimony

Finance

The Senate Finance Committee approved three bills on Monday.

House Bill 453 requires any agency receiving state funds to respond to an audit by the state Auditor General or future funding may be suspended.

Senate Bill 515 raises the cap on the Net Operating Loss carryforward amount to 45 percent of taxable income.

House Bill 1071 prohibits political subdivisions from imposing a recyclable plastic bag ban or levying a fee, surcharge or tax on plastic bags.

The committee also considered the nomination of Dan Hassell for Revenue Secretary. Video

Judiciary

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved three bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 529 provides those with low-level, nonviolent criminal records a mechanism to have their record sealed from public view.

Senate Bill 662 establishes a second degree felony for the delivery or distribution of an illicit drug that results in "serious bodily injury" to the user.

Senate Bill 741 addresses sunset provisions related to funding for the courts and indigent legal services.

Labor & Industry

The Senate Labor and Industry Committee approved Senate Bill 183 on Tuesday. The bill creates a state plumbers licensing program.

Local Government

On Tuesday, the Senate Local Government Committee, approved three bills on Tuesday.

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.

Senate Bill 693 allows political subdivisions and authorities to enter into contracts for services when two consecutive advertisements fail to induce bids.

State Government

The Senate State Government Committee approved two bills on Monday.

Senate Bill 527 creates an independent Office of Inspector General.

Senate Bill 595 authorizes the electronic notarization of documents in cases where the signer appears before the notary by means of real-time audio-video communication.

On Tuesday, the committee held the first of a series of public hearings on Pennsylvania election issues. Topics included alternative methods of voting and delivery, and the use of poll workers.

Hearing Video & Written Testimony

Urban Affairs & Housing

The Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee approved Senate Bill 446 on Monday. The bill provides for the regulation and certification of addiction recovery houses.


Around the 40th District

Four business had their ribbon cutting in Mount Bethel Plaza this week. The Hen House is an art studio and clothing boutique, Mt. Bethel Beverage had their grand re-opening at this new location, Riviera Limousine is a luxury chauffeured services, and Communale's Italian Market expanded their banquet room. We congratulate and commend these owners for bringing business to our community and surrounding areas. Best wishes in your future endeavors.


The PA Fish and Boat Commission completed a two-day fish salvage at Lake Minsi this week in Upper Mount Bethel Township, Northampton County. This is one of the final steps before the beginning of a construction process that will replace the Minsi dam over the next 18 months to two years.

Many residents gathered to witness the salvage, where the Commission netted fish and relocated them to Beltzville Lake. Others continued fishing in the pools of water that remain, with one resident catching a bass that clocked in at 7 lbs, 3 oz.

The overall draining of Minsi and dam reconstruction will prove a valuable opportunity to build new habitat in the lake, dredge portions that have incurred serious silt and sediment, and bring back to life a new and improved lake that will benefit residents for decades to come.


This week I welcomed constituents Kristine and Don Zipp to the Senate floor in Harrisburg. Don is the Fire Chief for West End Volunteer Fire Company. It was a pleasure seeing you both and thank you for all you continue to do for our community.


I met with representatives from the "Campaign for What Works" (C4WW) and discussed their support of Senator Camera Bartolotta's Senate Bill 200. This bill would add postpartum depression as an at-risk category for early intervention, making a child eligible for services if the mother has postpartum depression. It was great meeting with all of you to discuss this important cause.


One of my Nazareth constituents, Ed Connors, came down to the Capitol. It was great meeting with Ed and discussing his work as CEO of Heudia, a company that connects people with the healthcare services they need.


Next Week

The Senate will reconvene on Monday, June 12 at 1 p.m. You can watch live at PASenateGOP.com.


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Offices

Senate Box 203040
Harrisburg, PA 17120-3040
Phone: (717) 787-6123

Monroe County Office
DePue Plaza
2989 Route 611, Suite 103
Tannersville, PA 18372
Phone (570) 620-4326
FAX (570) 620-4379
8:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.

Northampton County Office
2 North Robinson Avenue
Pen Argyl, PA 18072
Phone (610) 863-1200
FAX (610) 863-1214
8:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.

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