Weekly Wrap

The final days of the 2019 session schedule came and went this week as members returned to Harrisburg to put a bow on some unfinished business prior to the New Year.

On Monday, the House Tourism and Recreational Development Committee reported out H.R. 621 (Mentzer, R-Lancaster), which recognizes the month of January 2020 as "Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month" in Pennsylvania. Also, the House Transportation Committee reported out two bills of note:

  • B. 2120 (Hennessey, R-Chester), which would prohibit the Department of Human Services from implementing a full-risk brokerage model for the Medical Assistance Transportation Program (MATP); and
  • B. 742 (Ward, R-Westmoreland), which would exempt new vehicles up to 8 years from the year of manufacture from emissions inspection requirements.

The full House sent H.B. 616 (Owlett, R-Tioga) to the Senate after a unanimous vote. The bill would add the drug Carfentanil, a synthetic opioid, to the list of Schedule II controlled substances. The House sent S.B. 841 (Martin, R-Lancaster) back to the Senate for a concurrence vote. S.B. 841 would reauthorize and modernize the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4). PHC4's primary responsibilities are: (1) to collect, analyze and make available to the public data about the cost and quality of health care; (2) to study, upon request, the issue of access to care for individuals who are uninsured; and (3) to review and make recommendations about proposed or existing mandated health insurance benefits upon request of the legislative or executive branches.

Tuesday began with a public hearing in the House Transportation Committee on more frequent and affordable passenger rail service between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Then, the House Commerce Committee reported out H.B. 2009 (Kenyatta, D-Philadelphia), which would create the Cybersecurity Coordination Board. The Board would conduct cybersecurity audits, improve security and privacy standards, and work with businesses and higher education institutions to promote effective cybersecurity measures. Lastly for committees, the House Health Committee reported S.B. 906 (Yudichak, I-Luzerne) from their committee. The bill would institute a moratorium on the closure of the Polk and White Haven state centers.

The following bills passed finally on the House floor and will head to the Senate for consideration:

  • B. 137 (Quinn, R-Delaware), which would provide immunity to individuals who experience a drug overdose if certain conditions are met.
  • B. 1879 (Gillespie, R-York), which would provide for the offense of aggravated assault of a healthcare practitioner.
  • B. 432 (Phillips-Hill, R-York), which would amend the Achieving Better Care by Monitoring All Prescriptions (ABC-MAP) Act to expand the list of authorized users who may query the system.
  • B. 166 (Hughes, D-Philadelphia), which would provide limitations for redevelopment assistance capital projects (RACP) and limit the debt incurred.
  • B. 905 (Browne, R-Lehigh), which is the Capital Budget Project Itemization Act of 2019-20.

On Wednesday, for the last session day of 2019, both chambers were in session. The Senate returned to Harrisburg in order to consider judicial nominations. Two nominations of note were favorably recommended by the Senate Judiciary Committee and then confirmed by the full Senate:

  • Drew Crompton, General Counsel for the Senate Republican Caucus, will serve on the Commonwealth Court; and
  • Bruce Beemer, Inspector General of Pennsylvania, will serve on the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas.

Furthermore, two bills that are part of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative II package passed in both chambers and were signed by the Governor:

  • B. 500 (Baker, R-Luzerne), which would establish the County Adult Probation and Parole Advisory Committee and provide for grants; and
  • B. 501 (Killion, R-Delaware), which would make changes to sentencing and parole for offenders.

On the House floor the following bills passed finally:

  • 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;
  • B. 440 (Nesbit, R-Mercer), which would allow an individual's criminal history record to be expunged for certain crimes if they have been pardoned or fully acquitted of charges;
  • B. 1477 (Delozier, R-Cumberland), which would provide alternatives to licensing boards when issuing licenses to individuals with criminal convictions;
  • B. 133 (Argall, R-Schuylkill), which would remove the current process for electing a Lieutenant Governor (separate election) and replace it so a candidate for Governor can select their own running mate; and
  • B. 750 (Scarnati, R-Jefferson), which would transfer authority of the Lieutenant Governor's mansion to the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to be used for veterans programs and the National Guard.

These bills will go to the Senate for consideration, with the exception of S.B. 750, which heads to the Governor for his signature.

The Week(s) Ahead

Things should be quiet through the holiday season. The House of Representatives' first voting session day of 2020 will be January 13, while the Senate returns to town on January 27. Budget hearings will be here before we know it. The Senate Appropriations Committee already announced their schedule, which can be found here.

Election season is also rapidly approaching. The first day for candidates to circulate and file nomination petitions is January 28, 2020 and the last day is February 18, 2020. Some current members already announced their intention to not seek reelection:

  • Stephen Barrar (R-Delaware)
  • Cris Dush (R-Jefferson)
  • Neal Goodman (D-Schuylkill)
  • Marcia Hahn (R-Northampton)
  • Steve McCarter (D-Montgomery)
  • Justin Simmons (R-Northampton)
  • Marcy Toepel (R-Montgomery)

In Other News

  • Governor Wolf announced a joint agreement with Pew Charitable Trusts for the creation of a Juvenile Task Force.
  • The Speaker of the House announced a special election in HD-190 (Philadelphia) to replace former Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell.
  • The Environmental Quality Board (EQB) approved revisions to air quality regulations for existing oil and natural gas wells and pipelines.
  • The Governor announced the approval of $4.75 million in funding through the Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP), to support community revalidation projects.

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