Welcome back! The legislature returned from the holiday break this week, as both the House of Representatives and Senate convened for non-voting session on Tuesday. The day was highlighted by the Senate's unanimous reelection of Sen. Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) to serve as President Pro Tempore for 2020. Sen. Scarnati will serve in this position for the 14th time.
Speaker of the House Rep. Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) appointed Rep. Tom Murt (R-Montgomery) to serve as chair of the House Human Services Committee. The chairmanship was vacant due to the resignation of Rep. Gene DiGirolamo (R-Bucks), who will now serve as a Bucks County Commissioner. The Speaker also announced that Rep. Gary Day (R-Lehigh) will take over as chair of the House Aging and Older Adult Services Committee, a position previously held by Rep. Murt.
The Week Ahead
Only the House will return for voting session next week. There aren't very many committee meetings currently scheduled, but here's some of what to expect.
On Monday, the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee will consider S.B. 790 (Scarnati, R-Jefferson), which provides for regulations specific to conventional oil and gas wells.
On Tuesday, the House Consumer Affairs Committee will consider H.B. 1400 (Farry, R-Bucks), which would regulate small wireless antennas for the deployment of high-speed wireless broadband. Also, the House State Government Committee will vote on H.B. 1804 (Struzzi, R-Indiana). The bill would allow the Department of General Services (DGS) to set maximum employee limits for participation in the Small and Disadvantaged Business (SDB) program according to industry and give DGS authority to promulgate regulations for the SDB program.
Looking a little further ahead, past what could be a quiet January, the Governor will deliver his annual budget address to the General Assembly on Tuesday, February 4. General Fund revenue collections came in $91.5M short of estimate last month, which adds to the intrigue surrounding the address.
Budget themes are unknown at this point, but it's likely we'll see "schools that teach, jobs that pay and government that works" as Gov. Wolf delivers his sixth address this year. Budget hearings will follow, beginning on February 18.
A full list of committee meetings and the budget hearing schedule can be found here:
The General Assembly is starting this year with a few vacancies; the following special elections have been scheduled:
- January 14, 2020: SD-48 (Dauphin/York) to replace Sen. Mike Folmer (R)
- February 25, 2020: HD-190 (Philadelphia) to replace Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell (D)
- March 17, 2020:
- HD-8 (Butler/Mercer) to replace Rep. Tedd Nesbit (R)
- HD-18 (Bucks) to replace Rep. Gene DiGirolamo (R)
- HD-58 (Westmoreland) to replace Rep. Justin Walsh (R)
In addition, the following members announced they are not seeking reelection in 2020:
- Stephen Barrar (R-Delaware) – Chair, House Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee
- Cris Dush (R-Jefferson)
- Garth Everett (R-Lycoming) – Chair, House State Government Committee
- Neal Goodman (D-Schuylkill) – House Democratic Caucus Administrator
- Marcia Hahn (R-Northampton) – House Transportation Committee member
- Mark Keller (R-Perry) – Chair, House Commerce Committee
- Steve McCarter (D-Montgomery) – House Education Committee member
- Harry Readshaw (D-Allegheny) – Democratic Chair, House Professional Licensure Committee
- Justin Simmons (R-Northampton)
- Marcy Toepel (R-Montgomery) – House Republican Caucus Chair
In Other News
- Senate Republican top-staffer Drew Crompton was sworn in as Judge of the Commonwealth Court this week.
- The 2020 Pennsylvania Farm Show, which is the largest indoor agricultural expo in the nation, will wrap up on Saturday.
- Former Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick died at the age of 56.
And finally, some news from Buchanan. This week we welcomed Randy Vulakovich back to our Pennsylvania Government Relations Practice. Randy most recently served as the firm's chief administrative officer. You can read Randy's full bio and more about all our Government Relations professionals on our webpage.
Last, but certainly not least, Buchanan's Jonathan Vipond was recognized in the Central Penn Business Journal’s inaugural class of ICON Honors. The award recognizes business leaders over the age of 60 who have left an indelible mark in their fields, and whose integrity, vision and selfless service have lifted up the Central PA community.
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