Weekly Wrap

Convening for three of the relatively few session days both chambers are in session this fall, the House of Representatives and the Senate had a hectic week. Next week is likely to shape up to be the same, but in the meantime, here's a recap of the last few days.

On Monday, the House Health and House Human Services Committees held a joint public hearing on the closure of the White Haven and Polk State Centers. The House Health Committee then reported out H.B. 1918 (Mullery, D-Luzerne), which would institute a moratorium on the closure of the state centers. The Senate Health and Human Services Committee followed suit and reported out S.B. 906 (Yudichak, D-Luzerne), which would do the same.

The House Insurance Committee held an informational meeting on two bills: H.B. 1439 (Kaufer, R-Luzerne), which would require health plans to notify subscribers of addiction treatment coverage available to them and how to access it, and H.B. 1696 (Murt, R-Montgomery), which would require insurance carriers that cover behavioral health to submit information to ensure compliance with the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act.

Moving to the other side of the building, the Senate Appropriations Committee reported out S.B. 320 (Killion, R-Delaware), which would provide for the management and disposition of digital assets in the same way a person can make plans for their tangible property. The full Senate sent two bills to the House for its consideration: S.B. 114 (Boscola, D-Northampton), which would require a driver to make a reasonable effort to remove snow or ice from a vehicle within 24 hours of the cessation of the falling snow or ice, and S.B. 790 (Scarnati, R-Jefferson), which would provide for separate regulations for conventional oil and gas operators.

As it always seems to be the case, Tuesday was the busiest day of the week.

The Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee held an informational meeting on the economic opportunities of the data center industry. Chairman Tom Killion (R-Delaware) commented that S.B. 471 (Hutchinson, R-Venango), which would establish a sales and use tax exemption for certain equipment purchased by data centers, is moving out of the Senate Appropriations Committee. The bill would then need a floor vote in the Senate before making its way to the House of Representatives for consideration.

The committees were also busy with voting meetings on Tuesday. The House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee reported out S.B. 694 (Yaw, R-Lycoming), which would allow for cross unit drilling for unconventional oil or gas wells. Also, the House State Government Committee reported out S.B. 421 (Boscola, D-Northampton), an omnibus Election Code bill that, among other things, would eliminate straight ticket voting. The Committee also reported out H.B. 1896 (Hennessey, R-Chester), which would transfer land in East Vincent Township, Chester County to the Pennsylvania American Water Company for a new water treatment plant.

The House Health Committee reported out three pieces of legislation to note:

  • S.B. 572 (Aument, R-Lancaster), which would establish a procedure for prescribers to enter into treatment agreements with a patient;
  • H.B. 410 Oberlander, R-Clarion), which would allow FDA-approved anti-obesity drugs to be compensable under the medical assistance program; and
  • H.R. 507 (Hahn, R-Northampton), which would direct the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to conduct a study and issue a report analyzing the various health and human services hotlines.

The House Judiciary Committee reported out also moved three bills out of their committee:

  • H.B. 616 (Owlett, R-Tioga), which would place carfentanil on the list of Schedule II controlled substances;
  • H.B. 137 (Quinn, R-Delaware), which would provide immunity to a person who experiences a drug overdose if they obtain a screening and receive a referral for treatment within 30 days after receiving notice; and
  • H.B. 1879 (Gillespie, R-York), which would add health care practitioners to a protected class in the event of an assault and raise the penalty for assault on a health care practitioner.

In the Senate, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee reported out S.B. 842 (Phillips-Hill, R-York), which would omit health care workers' last names from their facility ID badges. Furthermore, the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee held an informational meeting on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and then reported out the following bills:

  • S.B. 726 (Bartolotta, R-Washington), which would limit the Environmental Hearing Board's (EHB) standard of review exclusively to the record of decision prepared by the Department of Environmental Protection;
  • S.B. 727 (Bartolotta, R-Washington), which would restructure the appointed terms for the EHB's membership; and
  • S.B. 891 (Yaw, R-Lycoming), which would establish the Advanced Permit Review Program to facilitate individual and general permits under Chapter 102 (erosion and sediment control) and Chapter 105 (dam safety or waterway management).

The Senate also sent three bills to the House for its consideration:

  • S.B. 398 (Gordner, R-Columbia), which would provide additional legislative oversight of the regulatory review process;
  • S.B. 412 (Stefano, R-Fayette), which would remove the prohibition that federal, state, county and municipal employees are barred from serving as poll workers; and
  • S.B. 413 (Martin, R-Lancaster), which would remove the requirement that judicial candidates appear on a separate ballot.

On a slightly quieter Wednesday, the House Finance Committee held a public hearing on H.B. 285 (Metcalfe, R-Butler), which would permit the deferral of taxation on a lump sum distribution from the Employee Stock Ownership Plan of a company. The Senate Health and Human Services Committee also held a public hearing, there's on the Medical Assistance Statewide Preferred Drug List.

As for voting meetings, the House State Government Committee reported out H.R. 64 (Snyder, D-Greene), which would establish a legislative task force on the delivery of high-speed broadband services and direct the Joint State Government Commission to establish an advisory committee to conduct a study on the delivery of high-speed broadband services in unserved areas and underserved areas.

Also on Wednesday, the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee reported out two bills related PFAS remediation: H.B. 1410 (Stephens, R-Montgomery), which would establish a per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) remediation program for affected military installations and municipalities located nearby, and S.B. 919 (Yaw, R-Lycoming), which would establish statewide uniform requirements for firefighting foam containing PFAS chemicals.

The Senate Finance Committee met to consider bills, including H.B. 17 (Ryan, R-Lebanon), which would set a ten-year limit on the Department of Revenue's ability to assess and collect personal income taxes when no return is filed; and S.B. 74 (Martin, R-Lancaster), which would allow companies to receive a tax credit for making a donation to a Pennsylvania pediatric cancer research hospital. Finally, the Senate Urban Affairs and Housing reported out S.B. 334 (Argall, R-Schuylkill), which would eliminate spot appeals of property assessments.

The Senate also sent two bills to the House for its consideration on Wednesday: H.B. 49 (Brown, R-Monroe), which would allow a student who completes a course in personal finance to apply up to one credit toward their graduation credit requirement, and S.B. 750 (Scarnati, R-Jefferson), which would provide for the sale of the Lieutenant Governor's mansion.

There's one important confirmation to note from the week, as the Senate confirmed Ralph Yanora to serve on the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission by a vote of Y:45/N:3. Yanora was sworn in on Thursday and will serve a five-year term.

The Week Ahead

Next week is the second consecutive week that both chambers will be in Harrisburg. So far we know that on Monday the following public hearings and informational meetings are scheduled:

  • House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee will hold a public hearing on carbon dioxide and the climate
  • House Democratic Policy Committee will hold a public hearing on autonomous vehicles;
  • House Transportation Committee will hold an informational meeting on the Commonwealth's shift to a brokerage model for the Medical Assistance Transportation Program (MATP); and
  • House Education Committee will hold a public hearing educator evaluation reforms.

On Tuesday, the House Finance Committee's Subcommittee on Tax Modernization and Reform will hold an informational meeting on state tax reforms. In addition, the House Labor and Industry Committee will consider H.B. 1234 (Cox, R-Berks), which would clarify when an injured worker is eligible for workers' compensation or when the worker may sue the employer in tort.

Finally, on Wednesday the Senate Communications and Technology Committee will hold a public hearing to discuss the consolidation of the state's IT services and making improvements to cybersecurity capabilities. The House Local Government Committee will consider H.B. 406 (Cox, R-Berks), which would require municipalities to have at least one publicly advertised meeting prior to finalizing an agreement to sell or lease a sewer or water system.

See here for a full list of committee meetings:



Also, see what's on the calendar for each chamber:

The House Week Ahead

Senate Calendar

In Other News:

  • Governor Wolf appointed former General Counsel Denise Smyler to the Gaming Control Board.
  • The candidates are set for the SD-48 special election, which will be held on January 14, 2020.
  • Terri Cooper Smith was appointed Chairman of the PUC's Damage Prevention Committee.
  • Pennsylvania, along with three other states, reached a $8 billion settlement with five manufacturers and distributors of opioids.
  • The Drive Electric PA Coalition joined the interagency GreenGov Council for a Ride & Drive Event to showcase electric and hybrid vehicles.
  • Two resolutions, H.R. 452 (Millard, R-Columbia) and S.R. 252 (Stefano, R-Fayette), were adopted recognizing Fallingwater for being named a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site.

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