While budget hearings in the House of Representatives continued this week, the Senate was also in Harrisburg for three session days. First, here's a look at the budget hearings that took place and some main topics discussed in each.
Department of Environmental Protection
- The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)
- Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in drinking water
- Orphaned and abandoned wells
Department of Community and Economic Development
- Life-sustaining business waiver process
- COVID-19's impact on small businesses
- The Governor's proposed tax plan
Department of Transportation
- Mass transit
- Bridge tolling
- PennDOT and Turnpike funding
Department of General Services
- Small and diverse businesses
- Information technology and broadband
- State-owned property
Liquor Control Board
- Closures and sales during the pandemic
Department of Agriculture
- Food insecurity
- Research grants
- Animal health
- Education during and after the pandemic
- College affordability
- Endowments and research
Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs
- Bed registry
- Recovery houses
- Opioid overdoses and deaths
Department of Health
- Vaccine distribution
- Nursing homes
- Long term care facilities
On the Senate side, Tuesday, the Senate Labor and Industry Committee held a voting meeting and reported out the following bills:
- S.B. 69 (Langerholc, R-Cambria), which would establish the Recovery to Work pilot program to connect individuals in recovery with occupations through local workforce development boards;
- S.B. 147 (Langerholc, R-Cambria), which would require employers with a certified safety committee as part of their workers' compensation program to include information about the risks associated with the use of opioids; and
- S.B. 168 (Hughes, D-Philadelphia), which would require the Department of Labor and Industry to collect and publish forward-facing employment data.
In addition, the House Education Committee held a public hearing on the impacts of COVID-19 on elementary and secondary schools.
Wednesday, the Senate passed H.B. 326 (O'Neal, R-Washington), which would provide for the National Guard to establish operations plans to provide logistics and administrative support for vaccine distribution. Once signed in the House, the bill will go to the Governor's desk for his signature.
Furthermore, the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee held a voting meeting to send a letter to IRRC regarding Reg #7-556 Dam Safety & Waterway Management, followed by an informational meeting on the state's natural gas economy and opportunities for energy industry growth.
The following public hearings were also held:
- The House Education Committee held a public hearing on COVID-19's impact on institutions of higher education;
- The House Gaming Oversight Committee held a public hearing on COVID-19's impact on casinos and their financial outlook for the future; and
- The House and Senate State Government Committees held a joint public hearing on the 2020 census data.
Lastly, the Joint Legislative Budget and Finance Committee released the following reports: (1) A Study of the Adequacy of Fees Charged for PA's Instant Check System; (2) An Evaluation of Department of Health Grants Funded Through the Governor Robert P. Casey Memorial Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Trust Fund; and (3) A Study in Response to HR 515 (2019): Community Mental Health Services.
Thursday, the House Labor and Industry Committee held a public hearing on H.B. 262 (Diamond, R-Lebanon), which would provide for the right of an employee to refuse to participate in invasive medical screenings and vaccinations required by an employer. The Committee then held a public hearing to get an overview of unemployment compensation legislation.
The Week Ahead
Both chambers aren't in session again until March 15. However, budget hearings in the House continue next week, with the schedule as follows:
- Department of Education
- Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges
- Department of Labor and Industry
- Department of Human Services
- Budget Secretary/Governor's Executive Offices
Along with budget hearings, on Tuesday:
- The House Aging and Older Adult Services Committee will hold a public hearing on COVID-19 vaccination distribution for older adults and long-term care;
- The House Human Services Committee will hold an informational meeting on county services for mental health, intellectual disabilities, and autism; and
- The House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee will hold an informational meeting to receive input from departments, agencies, organizations, and stakeholders.
On Wednesday, the Senate Education Committee and Senate Health and Human Services Committee will hold a joint public hearing on education during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A full list of committee meetings can be found here:
In Other News
- The Department of Health announced that it aligned its COVID-19 quarantine guidance for fully vaccinated individuals with that of the CDC.
- Governor Wolf unveiled his workforce and economic development plan to get Pennsylvanians back to work.
- The Delaware River Basin Commission approved a final rule prohibiting high volume hydraulic fracturing in the Basin.
- PennDOT extended expiration dates on commercial driver licenses, commercial learners' permits.
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