After a nearly three month recess, the House of Representatives and Senate were back in session this week to continue the 2021-22 legislative session.
On Monday, the House Professional Licensure Committee held an informational meeting to discuss the pharmacy-related regulatory waivers and suspensions issued by the Department of State during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Committee then held a voting meeting and reported out S.B. 397 (Pittman, R-Indiana), which would amend the Osteopathic Medical Practice Act provisions pertaining to physician assistants, and S.B. 398 (Pittman, R-Indiana), which would amend the Medical Practice Act provisions pertaining to physician assistants.
Tuesday, the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee held a public hearing on utility scale solar development and agricultural land. Also, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee held a public hearing on S.B. 749 (Mensch, R-Montgomery), which would provide more clarity for employees and employers relating to the use of medical marijuana in the workplace.
The Senate Appropriations Committee reported out S.B. 153 (Langerholc, R-Cambria), which would increase the maximum allowable gross weight for commercial vehicles powered by electric battery power. Furthermore, the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee reported out H.B. 245 (Kaufer, R-Luzerne), which would reduce the graduate medical training required for international medical graduates from three to two years. S.B. 869 (Tomlinson, R-Bucks) was also reported out. The bill would allow Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs licensing boards and commissions to permanently continue to utilize public virtual board meetings, provide licensees with the opportunity to receive virtual continuing education, and permit certain individuals who need clinical or supervision hours to qualify for licensure to be supervised virtually.
On Senate floor, two bills of note passed finally and will go to the House for consideration: S.B. 302 (Yaw, R-Lycoming), which would restrict the use of class B firefighting foam containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) for training; and S.B. 461 (Baker, R-Luzerne), which would require Senate confirmation of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency director.
Wednesday was the last but busiest session day of the week. To start, the Senate Community, Economic, and Recreational Development Committee reported out S.B. 706 (Robinson, R-Allegheny), which would establish the Max Manufacturing Initiative Act to utilize natural gas resources and establish partnerships between private entities and state-related universities.
The Senate Transportation Committee held a public hearing with the Turnpike Commission to discuss unpaid tolls. The Committee then held a voting meeting and reported out two pieces of legislation affecting the school bus industry: S.R. 172 (Langerholc, R-Cambria), which urges the federal government to take action on the nationwide school bus driver shortage; and S.B. 859 (Langerholc, R-Cambria), which would extend the temporary regulations pertaining to the school bus stop arm camera enforcement program.
The House Education Committee reported out H.B. 1254 (DelRosso, R-Allegheny, which would require a school district that does not provide full-time in-person instruction to establish a tuition grant program Lastly for voting meetings, the Senate Aging and Youth Committee reported out H.B. 1082 (DelRosso, R-Allegheny), which would establish an education program for providers on early diagnosis of dementia and incorporates information about the disease into existing public health outreach programs.
There were two public hearings to note from Wednesday. First, the Senate Communications and Technology Committee held a hearing to discuss state and national perspectives on the consolidation of state IT systems. Second, the Senate Education Committee and Senate Labor and Industry Committee held a joint public hearing on the importance of adult education as part of the workforce development system.
The Senate unanimously passed S.B. 709 (Tomlinson, R-Bucks), which would create public awareness of cytomegalovirus (CMV) and provide for CMV screening for certain newborns. The bill will not be considered by the House.
In the House, the following bills passed finally and make their way to the Senate for consideration:
- H.B. 1660 (Sonney, R-Erie), which would allow a school board to put into operation temporary emergency provisions when an emergency results in five consecutive days of being unable to provide in-person instruction;
- H.B. 1774 (Flood, R-Northampton), which would extend the expiration of the Achieving Better Care by Monitoring All Prescriptions Program (ABC-MAP) Act from June 30, 2022 to December 31, 2028; and
- H.B. 1861 (Lewis, R-Dauphin), which would require final reports to be issued by each authority that initially authorized an extended regulatory statute suspension, no later than November 1, 2021.
The Senate held two public hearings on Thursday. The Senate Education Committee held a public hearing on the impact of the Department of Health orders on children and schools. In addition, the Senate State Government Committee held a public hearing on S.B. 878 (Argall, R-Schuylkill), which would implement the recommendations of Senate Special Committee on Election Integrity and Reform.
The Week Ahead
Both chambers are back in Harrisburg next week for three session days.
Monday, the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee will hold an informational meeting on PJM's Minimum Offer Price Rule (MOPR) proposal and maintain competitive and reliable energy markets. The Senate Transportation Committee will also hold a public hearing, focusing on vehicle emissions and electrification.
The House State Government Committee will consider three bills of note:
- H.B. 1800 (Grove, R-York), which would make numerous changes to the state's election law;
- H.B. 1893 (Staats, R-Bucks), which would provide that all disease information under the Disease Prevention and Control Act of 1955 fall under the Right-to-Know Law; and
- S.B. 533 (Yaw, R-Lycoming), which would prohibit the consideration or adoption of regulations during a disaster emergency except under certain circumstances.
On Tuesday, the House Aging and Older Adult Services Committee will consider H.B. 291 (Labs, R-Bucks) and S.B. 323 (Ward, R-Blair), which would extend the Social Security COLA moratorium until December 31, 2023. The Committee will also vote on: H.B. 1260 (Thomas, R-Bucks), which would modernize the maximum income limits to allow more older adults to benefit from the PACE and PACENET programs; and S.B. 668 (Ward, R-Blair), which would expand PACENET eligibility, eliminate monthly premiums on PACENET claimants, and provide discretion to the Department of Human Services to enroll PACENET claimants in a Medicare Part D plan.
Then the House Education Committee has four bills of their agenda:
- H.B. 1332 (Lewis, R-Dauphin), which would require school districts to publish on their websites the actual curriculum that will be taught for each grade and for each subject area;
- H.B. 1642 (White, R-Philadelphia), which would make changes to the Economically Disadvantaged Schools Program, which is part of the EITC and OSTC program;
- H.B. 1685 (Topper, R-Bedford), which is a comprehensive charter school reform bill; and
- H.B. 1892 (Sonney, R-Erie), which would ensure that payments due to a charter school are accurate and updates the process used to reconcile the payments due to a charter school from school districts, including addressing any disputes that arise.
The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee will consider three bills:
- S.B. 525 (Gordner, R-Columbia), which would establish the Growing Greener III program using $500 million from the American Rescue Plan;
- S.B. 806 (Yaw, R-Lycoming), which would require entities making natural gas royalty payments to landowners to provide more description, clarity and uniformity on their royalty check statements; and
- S.B. 832 (Yaw, R-Lycoming), which would establish a Clean Streams Fund used to protect and restore Pennsylvania's streams and rivers.
Wednesday, the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee will consider S.B. 251 (Yaw, R-Lycoming), which would set standards for application of fertilizer to turf, provide for labels and labeling, and the disposition of funds. Also, the House Local Government Committee will consider H.B. 527 (Cox, R-Berks), which would require a municipality to have at least one public meeting prior to finalizing an agreement to sell or lease a sewer or water system, and H.B. 1628 (Freeman, D-Northampton), which would give municipalities more authority to regulate the use of fireworks.
To finish up the week, on Thursday, the House Transportation Committee will hold a public hearing on PennDOT's Major Bridge P3 Program.
A full list of committee meetings can be found here:
In Other News
- Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam signed an order to ensure that vaccine providers are prepared to start COVID-19 booster shots as soon as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issues the necessary federal guidance.
- Governor Tom Wolf announced the Pennsylvania Climate Action Plan 2021 and called for statewide action on climate change by all sectors: legislative, government, industry, business, agriculture, and community organizations.
- PennDOT announced the launch of a public comment period for the draft 2045 Long-Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) and Freight Movement Plan (FMP). The plans represent a multimodal approach to improve mobility, safety, fairness, resilience, and sustainability for moving people and goods throughout the Commonwealth.
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