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Senator Don White

Harrisburg Happenings
A Report on the Legislative Session of
May 8, 2017

Dear Friend,

I am pleased to send you my Session Wrap Up e-newsletter. This e-newsletter features legislative activities during the Session Week of May 8, 2017.

If you find this e-newsletter useful, I invite you to visit my website www.senatordonwhite.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,

Don White


Measure Would Increase State Payments for Local Roadway Maintenance

For years, Pennsylvania has lagged in responsibly paying local communities for their efforts to maintain and repair state highways. Hopefully, that will change soon as the Senate Transportation Committee approved a bill I introduced that would immediately increase the fees paid by the Commonwealth and provide for annual adjustments to those payments.

Senate Bill 444, which now goes to the full Senate, adjusts the reimbursement rate annually for municipalities under the State Highway Transfer Restoration Restricted Account.

This bill would increase the current rate of reimbursement from $4000 to $4,600 and subsequently adjust the reimbursement rate annually for inflation based on the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers for the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland area as determined by the United States Department of Labor.

It is only fair the state maintains their end of the agreement by providing adequate funding for maintenance and repairs. My bill brings the reimbursements more in line with the actual costs associated with road maintenance and repair.

The program, which was established in 1983, has had its maintenance payment rate increased only one time—from $2500 to $4000 in 2006. Since then, the costs of materials, labor and equipment have increased significantly, leaving many municipalities struggling to make up the difference.

Senate Passes Bill Designating Blairsville Bridge for Local Veterans

On Wednesday, the Senate approved a bill I introduced that will rename an Indiana County bridge as a lasting memorial honoring the military service of local veterans.

Senate Bill 289 designates the Bairdstown Bridge on the portion of old State Route 22 over the Conemaugh River in Blairsville Borough as the “Blairsville Area Veterans Memorial Bridge.”

Blairsville American Legion Post 0407, Blairsville Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States Post Number 5821, the Borough of Blairsville and the Derry Township Board of Supervisors all asked me to introduce this bill to honor our local veterans.

“We think this renaming is quite appropriate when we consider the large number of men and women in our area who answered the call of service to our nation when in war or in peace,” the officers Legion Post 0407 wrote in a letter of support. “We also want to take into account the immediacy of the newly dedicated Blairsville Area Veterans Memorial, positioned only several hundred yards east of the bridge. We think of this as being a befitting meshing of the two and also a capping off of the measures already taken to memorialize the great service and sacrifice of all local veterans killed or missing in action whose names are etched there in stone.”

Senate Bill 289 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Senate Sends Epi-Pen Civil Immunity Measure to Governor

The Senate approved a measure on Monday that would provide civil immunity to school bus drivers and crossing guards who administer an epinephrine auto-injector, or “epi-pen,” to assist a student who is experiencing a seizure. House Bill 224 now goes to the Governor for his signature and enactment into law.

Under the legislation, a bus driver or crossing guard must first complete a training program developed by the state Department of Health and comply with school district policy to be qualified to use an epi-pen. The bill does not require school districts or school bus companies to enact an epi-pen policy, but would ensure that such a policy would provide for civil immunity if the guidelines are met.

Senate Approves Bill Addressing Police Body Cameras

The Senate approved a measure on Wednesday amending Pennsylvania’s Wiretap Act to allow police officers to use body-worn cameras. Senate Bill 560 will not only allow police to record statements and actions at a crime scene, but the recordings will also hold both police and the public accountable for their actions during law enforcement incidents.

Currently, police may record video, but not audio inside a residence. Senate Bill 560 eliminates this restriction. It also removes the requirement that an officer must announce to everyone in a public space that they are being recorded.

Senate Bill 560 allows access by the public to audio and video recordings by police. Because these recordings are primarily intended to gather evidence, they will not be subject to presumptive disclosure under the Commonwealth’s Right to Know statute. The media and the public may submit a written request to the law enforcement agency for the recordings. If the request is denied, they may petition the county court of common pleas for access to the recordings.

Senate Bill 560 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

The Senate also approved and sent to the House four additional bills this week.

Senate Bill 143 makes changes to the Underground Storage Tank Indemnification Board.

Senate Bill 201 provides for “like-kind” exchange tax deferrals.

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

Senate Bill 354 strengthens licensee reporting requirements to the Department of State.

Committee Roundup

Appropriations

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved five bills on Monday.

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

Senate Bill 269 amends the Pennsylvania Uniform Construction Code.

Senate Bill 522 amends Title 42 and Title 61 to merge the Department of Corrections and the Board of Probation and Parole as the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Senate Bill 523 amends the Crime Victims Act to merge the Department of Corrections and the Board of Probation and Parole as the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Senate Bill 651 is the Capital Budget Project Itemization Act of Fiscal year 2017-18.

Rules & Executive Nominations

The Senate Rules & Executive Nominations Committee approved Senate Bill 561 on Monday. The bill 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.

Law & Justice

The Senate Law & Justice Committee approved three measures on Tuesday.

House Bill 27 addresses the release of law enforcement officer information in cases involving the discharge of a firearm or use of force.

Senate Resolution 75 directs the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to review how Pennsylvania accounts for and analyzes forensic evidence kits (rape kits).

Senate Bill 403 removes the Governor’s appointment of an FBI Agent to the Municipal Police Officers Education & Training Commission and replaces it with a Governor’s appointment of a member of the State Fraternal Order of Police.

Judiciary

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved five bills on Tuesday.

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

Senate Bill 121 expands access to the Statewide Intermediate Punishment Program to individuals who have committed crimes due to gambling addiction.

House Bill 267 adds the new offense of theft of secondary metal. Secondary metal is defined as wire, pipe or cable commonly used by utility and transportation companies as well as copper, aluminum or other metals that are valuable for recycling or reuse.

Senate Bill 449 would allow Magisterial District Judges to use a risk assessment tool when determining bail in domestic violence cases.

Senate Bill 636 prohibits the confinement of a dog or cat in an unattended motor vehicle in a manner that would endanger the health and well-being of the animal.

Transportation

The Senate Transportation Committee approved six bills and a resolution on Wednesday.

Senate Resolution 76 directs the Pennsylvania Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to study the feasibility of increasing passenger rail service between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg.

House Bill 93 is a highway renaming bill.

House Bill 103 is a bridge renaming bill.

House Bill 199 is a highway renaming bill.

Senate Bill 431 increases fines for littering.

Senate Bill 444 is a bill I introduced that adjusts the reimbursement rate annually (based on inflation) for municipalities under the State Highway Transfer Restoration Restricted Account.

House Bill 834 is a bridge renaming bill.

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