United States: Post-Budget Update

Last Updated: September 3 2019
Article by Buchanan Government Relations

While the budget is always the headliner during the last week of June, plenty of other bills are often in play during the flurry of activity. Some are reported from committee or sent to the other chamber as a show of good faith, noting possible action in the fall. Others cross the finish line, head to the Governor's desk and become the law of the land (or not).

Here is a rundown of what you may have missed while waiting for the budget to be completed and summer to begin. We've included the bill number and the new Act number for your reference, as well as a brief summary of each item.

Health

  • H.B. 3/Act 42 (Cutler, R-Lancaster), which establishes a state-based health insurance exchange marketplace and reinsurance program. According to Governor Wolf, once the exchange is operational (as early as January 1, 2021), Pennsylvanians will save up to $250 million in annual health insurance premiums.
  • H.B. 195/Act 46 (Nelson, R-Westmoreland), which provides for medication synchronization. This allows pharmacies to synchronize multiple medication fill dates so a patient's prescriptions are filled on the same day of the month.
  • H.B. 786/Act 54 (Cutler, R-Lancaster), which establishes accreditation criteria for Level III trauma centers and appropriates supplemental payments to trauma centers.
  • H.B. 1172/Act 412 (Hickernell, R-Lancaster), which establishes an endorsement process for issuing licenses under the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs to applicants who are licensed to practice in another state.
  • S.B. 698/Act 68 (Gordner, R-Columbia), which amends the Medical Practice Act to allow a supervising physician and physician assistant to utilize a designee for processing a written agreement with the licensing board.
  • S.B. 699/Act 69 (Gordner, R-Columbia), which amends the Osteopathic Medical Practice Act to allow a supervising physician and physician assistant to utilize a designee for processing a written agreement with the licensing board.

Energy

  • H.B. 751/Act 53 (Roae, R-Crawford), which restores the previous practice of allowing a utility to spread taxes on the value of assets contributed by a developer across the entire rate base.

Education

  • H.B. 1324/Act 32 (Barrar, R-Delaware), which establishes the National Guard Military Family Education Program. The program provides grants to family members of eligible National Guard members to attend approved post-secondary educational institutions in the state.
  • S.B. 144/Act 18 (Martin, R-Lancaster), which establishes the Keystone Telepresence Education Grant Program. The program awards grants to intermediate units for the purchase of telepresence equipment for educating homebound students. It also includes provisions concerning school safety and security.
  • S.B. 440/Act 64 (Phillips-Hill, R-York), which codifies the Flexible Instructional Days Program to allow students to continue instruction at home when schools must be closed due to inclement weather or another type of emergency.
  • S.B. 621/Act 67 (Regan, R-Cumberland), which makes changes to school security provisions relating to school police officers, school resource officers and schools security guards.
  • S.B. 700/Act 70 (Browne, R-Lehigh), which establishes the Public Higher Education Funding Commission to review and make recommendations related to higher education funding, affordability, effectiveness, administration and operations. It also creates a new school construction and renovation approval process.

General

  • H.B. 24/Act 43 (Lawrence, R-Chester), which amends the Capital Facilities Debt Enabling Act to change the amortization methodology for future capital budget debt.
  • H.B. 423/Act 48 (Topper, R-Bedford), which allows questions to be placed on the ballot at any election other than a special election as to whether brewery licenses, brewery storage licenses, limited distillery licenses and limited winery licenses should be issued within a municipality.
  • H.B. 826/Act 56 (Marshall, R-Beaver), which allows nonprofit organizations affiliated with collegiate teams to conduct 50/50 raffles for charity.
  • S.B. 321/Act 63 (Martin, R-Lancaster), which provides Lancaster County with the option to prohibit the issuance of a video gaming terminal establishment license.
  • S.B. 724/Act 72 (Corman, R-Centre), which makes technical changes to the 2017 public pension law and establishes the Public Markets Emerging Investment Manager Program under the Public School Employees' Retirement System (PSERS).

Vetoes

  • H.B. 800 (Turzai, R-Allegheny), which would have made changes to the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) programs, including increasing the annual cost of the program and the maximum annual household income limit. Similar, but more amenable, language was included in the omnibus Public School Code bill.
  • H.B. 915 (Causer, R-McKean), which would have exempt milk haulers from travel restrictions on highways during a declaration of disaster emergency.
  • S.B. 48 (Gordner, R-Columbia), which would have provided for a process for decertifying voting equipment and eliminating straight party ballot voting.

There was some action outside the legislative arena in June, when members of Governor Wolf's cabinet were either confirmed for the first time or re-confirmed to hold their position during his second term. There are also nominations awaiting Senate confirmation.

Re-confirmations

  • Dennis Davin, Secretary of Community and Economic Development
  • Patrick McDonnell, Secretary of Environmental Protection
  • Teresa Miller, Secretary of Human Services
  • Pedro Rivera, Secretary of Education
  • John Wetzel, Secretary of Corrections

Newly confirmed

  • Robert Evanchick, Commissioner of the State Police
  • Mary Isenhour, Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board
  • Robert Torres, Secretary of Aging

Nominated and awaiting confirmation

  • Kathy Boockvar, Secretary of the Commonwealth
  • Ralph Yanora, Pennsylvania Public Utility Commissioner

While the House of Representatives doesn't return to Harrisburg for session until September 17, and the Senate on September 23, there are some noteworthy committee meetings scheduled throughout the summer:

  • July 11: Senate Local Government Committee and Senate Republican Policy Committee joint workshop discussion on the economic health of Third-Class Cities.
  • July 15: Senate Republican Policy Committee public hearing on the Governor's Census 2020 Complete Count Commission.
  • July 16: House Democratic Policy Committee public hearing on career and technical education.
  • July 17: House Democratic Policy Committee public hearing on wind energy.
  • July 18: House Democratic Policy Committee public hearing on fair education funding.
  • July 22: House Democratic Policy Committee public hearing on hospital closures.
  • July 23: House Liquor Control Committee public hearing on H.B. 1617 (Staats, R-Bucks), which addresses the conversion of old hotel liquor licenses, issued before 1949, into restaurant liquor licenses.
  • July 23: House Democratic Policy Committee public hearing on gun violence as a public health epidemic.
  • July 23: Senate Democratic Policy Committee hearing on improving veterans' services.
  • July 24: House Aging and Older Adult Services Committee informational meeting on gerontology.
  • July 24: House Democratic Policy Committee public hearing on revitalizing Main Street.
  • July 25: House Democratic Policy Committee public hearing on "Green PA: Working Towards a Sustainable Future".

In case you missed our budget-related summaries, you can check them out here:

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