What’s Happening in the House – Week of April 25

Continuing Mandate Relief for Municipalities, Welfare Integrity Reform and Expanding Education Opportunities on Tap at PA House

The state House returns to session on Tuesday, April 26. To see information on any of the bills, read them on http://legis.state.pa.us/.  Session, most committee hearings and special events will be streamed live on http://pahousegop.com/.

Increasing Educational Opportunities for Students; School Safety in Philadelphia; and School District Mandate Relief to be voted in House Education Committee Meeting

Political leaders have attempted to bridge the gap between today’s employers and tomorrow’s employees through the Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC).  The EITC works because it is a unique business/education partnership. Through the EITC, the state provides companies with a 75 percent tax credit for donations to a non-profit scholarship or educational improvement organization; the tax credit increases to 90 percent if the company commits to making the same donations for two consecutive years. A business paying taxes in Pennsylvania can receive up to $300,000 in tax credits annually. EITC provides children and families with a choice in their education and a chance in life, the program expands educational opportunities for all Pennsylvanians.  With 111 co-sponsors, the EITC legislation is scheduled for a committee vote on Tuesday.

Welfare Integrity to Ensure those in Need, Have the Resources Available

Continuing the debate on the House Republican eight bill legislative package known as WelFAIR (Fairness, Accountability, Integrity and Responsibility), aimed at improving the integrity of the state’s welfare system following an array of reports over the last several years depicting egregious instances of waste, fraud and abuse, three bills will be debated and voted on. Random testing for welfare recipients previously convicted of felony drug charges; restricting transportation to methadone clinics; and reforming the “Special Allowance” fund to “Job Transition Loans” are the bills for the upcoming week.

Raising Bid Limits, e-auctions, and local tax collections for Local Government Equals Mandate Relief

The House will debate bills, part of the 17-bill package to increase non-bid contract maximums, saving municipalities from the costs of advertising and bidding low-costing contracts and services. The two bills under consideration next week deal with authorities. Another bill to be voted would allow municipal property to be auctioned through the internet. Finally, a bill to allow the county treasurer in third to eighth class counties to collect municipal taxes.

As various state programs will experience budget cuts this year due to the economy, helping municipalities save money is one of the priorities House members are working together to accomplish.

The Weekly Schedule

Bill numbers will be used to identify the legislation being considered either in committee or on the House floor.  The bills, sponsors and summaries are posted below.

Tuesday, April 26

Committee Meetings/Hearings

• ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCES AND ENERGY, 9 a.m., Room B-31, Main Capitol Building

o Update from the DEP Executive Deputy Secretary John Hines on water resources planning.

• REPUBLICAN POLICY, 9 a.m., Room 60, East Wing

o Public hearing with the Job Creation Policy Development Team on regulatory issues affecting businesses throughout Pennsylvania.

• EDUCATION, 9:30 a.m., Room 39, East Wing

o HB 285 (Rep. Mark Keller, R-Perry/Franklin): Increases the dollar amount, in the Public School Code, for purchases that are subject to advertising requirements from $10,000 to $25,000, increases the dollar amount for contracts that would require written or telephonic price quotations from three qualified contractors from $4,000 to $7,000, and provides for the annual adjustment of the aforementioned amounts based on the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers.

o HB 1330 (Rep. Thomas Quigley, R-Montgomery): Establishes in the Public School Code an educational improvement tax credit program, outlines the eligibility standards and qualifications to receive the credit, and repeals the existing provisions in the Tax Reform Code relating to educational improvement tax credit.

o HB 1345 (Rep. John Taylor, R-Philadelphia): Transfers the authority of the Safe School Advocate from the Pennsylvania Department of Education to the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.

• GAMING OVERSIGHT, 9:30 a.m., Room 302, Irvis Office Building

o HB 497 (Rep. Curt Schroder, R-Chester): Expands the role of ex officio members of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) to include all rights and privileges provided to all other members of the PGCB, except as limited by statutory law.

• INSURANCE, 9:45 a.m., Room G-50, Irvis Office Building

o Public hearing on the functions of the PA Department of Insurance.

• JUDICIARY, 10 a.m., Room 205, Ryan Office Building

o HB 924 (Rep. Todd Stephens, R-Montgomery): Establishes that when a volunteer or employee of a school or child-care center commits a sex offense against a child, it is a third-degree felony and constitutes a bar to employment.

o HB 1026 (Rep. Tom Caltagirone, D-Berks): Allows retired or senior judges to administer certain oaths and acknowledgements.

o HB1053 (Rep. Mauree Gingrich, R-Lebanon): Provides for the offense of neglect and/or abuse of a care-dependent person.

o HB 1153 (Rep. Gary Day, R-Berks/Lehigh): Eliminates the sunset date for the $5 fee on concealed carry permits; and further prohibits sheriffs from charging in excess of the $25 fee for issuance of a permit.

• TOURISM AND RECREATIONAL DEVELOPMENT, 10 a.m., Room B-31, Main Capitol Building

o Presentation on Pennsylvania’s wine industry and wine trails.

• STATE GOVERNMENT, Off the Floor, Room G-50, Irvis Office Building

o HB 1021 (Rep. Tim Krieger, R-Westmoreland): Requires agencies to solicit specified professional services through a request for proposal process; requires the disclosure of the method of compensation; limits contingent fee compensation to no more than 20 percent of the settlement or $25 million, whichever is less; and requires contracts for legal services to specify that Commonwealth attorneys retain control over the course and conduct of any legal action.

Session

On Tuesday, the House will convene at 11 a.m. for legislative business. The members will vote the uncontested calendar and Rule 35 resolutions.

Votes on Second Consideration

• HB 197 (Rep. Mauree Gingrich, R-Lebanon): Amends Title 53 (Municipalities) to further provide for review of agreements by the Local Government Commission. Provides for review of intergovernmental cooperation agreements between a local government and the Commonwealth, any other state, government of another state or the federal government.

• HB 292 (Rep. Mark Keller): Increases the threshold for written or telephonic bids from $4,000 to $10,000 for contracts and purchases relating to parking authorities and  authorizes the PA Department of Labor and Industry to annually adjust the threshold based on the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers.

• HB 396 (Rep. Bernie O’Neill, R-Bucks): Increases the offense of a drug delivery resulting in death to a first-degree felony and amends the sentencing penalty from a minimum of five years imprisonment to a maximum of 40 years imprisonment.

• HB 440 (Rep. Mark Mustio, R-Allegheny): Allows insurers to provide workers’ compensation coverage to sole proprietors, partners of a partnership, or officers of a limited liability company.

• HB 639 (Rep. John Taylor):  Removes a date that prevents the City of Philadelphia from increasing its affordable housing program fee.

• HB 804 (Rep. Kurt Masser, R-Columbia/Montour/Northumberland): Provides an exemption from jury duty for those persons who have previously served for a full term on a statewide investigating grand jury, including any extensions thereof, who opt not to serve.

• HB 1297 (Rep. Garth Everett, R-Lycoming): Requires random testing for welfare recipients (TANF, SNAP and GA) with previous felony drug convictions within five years of assistance.  Twenty percent of these individuals would be tested every six months.  Individuals would be tested before benefits could be approved.

• HB 1301 (Rep. Donna Oberlander, R-Clarion/Armstrong): Requires the Department of Public Welfare to promulgate regulations for the Medical Assistance Transportation Program, involving transportation to methadone clinics, to establish eligibility requirements and verification procedures, and establishes further recording requirements for transportation services and mileage reimbursement.

• HB 1312 (Rep. Todd Stephens, R-Montgomery): Special allowance reform.  Transitions special allowances to “job transition loans” for personal transportation needs, books and supplies for work or education, fees for training and union dues.  Payments are issued to the provider of the goods or services and not the loan recipient.  Repayment of the loan occurs through deductions from the applicant’s monthly cash assistance benefit.

• SB 265 (Sen. Mary Jo White, R-Butler/Clarion/Erie/Forest/Venango/Warren): Prohibits gas wells from being located within 2,000 feet of the nearest well cluster when drilling through workable coal seams, unless the permit applicant and the owner of the workable coal seam consent in writing to provide adequate spacing between gas well clusters and requires the Department of Environmental Protection to commission an independent pillar support study.

Votes on Third Consideration

• HB 293 (Rep. Mark Keller): Increases the dollar amount of a sale or purchase before a metropolitan transportation authority is required to seek competitive bids from $10,000 to $25,000 and provides for the annual adjustment of that amount based on the change in the Consumer Price Index.

• HB 371 (Rep. Chris Ross, R-Chester): Amends the Third Class City Code to allow the sale of city personal property through electronic auctions.

• HB 715 (Rep. Dave Hickernell, R-Lancaster/Dauphin): Amends “The Local Tax Collection Law” to provide for the collection of municipal taxes by a county treasurer in third through eighth class counties.

• HB 898 (Rep. Marcy Toepel, R-Montgomery): Deems a person to have been convicted of a prior offense for the sale or transfer of firearms whether or not they have been sentenced on the previous conviction.

Wednesday, April 27

Committee Meetings/Hearings

• AGRICULTURE AND RURAL AFFAIRS, 9 a.m., Room 60, East Wing

o Informational meeting on veterinary and animal health issues.

• LOCAL GOVERNMENT, 9:15 a.m., Room B-31, Main Capitol Building

o HB 578 (Rep. Florindo Fabrizio, D-Erie): Increases the governing board of the convention center authority from nine to 11 members by decreasing the number appointed by the mayor or governing body of the municipality from three to two and increasing the number appointed by the county council from four to seven.

o HB 633 (Rep. Tom Creighton, R-Lancaster): Allows governmental units that are required by law to publish legal notices in one or more general circulation newspapers to instead publish the legal notices on an official government notice website, so long as certain requirements are met. This bill also requires the governmental units to review and document all complaints of service accessibility failure and to provide free copies of the legal notice to individuals unable to access the electronic publication.

o HB 755 (Rep. Matt Gabler, R-Elk/Clearfield): Increases the amount of money that County Veterans’ Affairs Directors may be reimbursed for annual association meeting expenses and dues from $100 to $400.

o HB 823 (Rep. Mario Scavello, R-Monroe): Requires municipalities to submit written notification on a monthly basis to the superintendent of a school district denoting any residential development plan that was finally approved during the preceding month. The notice must include the location of the development, the number and types of units included within the plan, and the expected construction schedule.

• VETERANS AFFAIRS AND EMERCENCY PREPAREDNESS, 9:15 a.m., Room 302, Irvis Office Building

o HB 797 (Rep. Frank Farry, R-Bucks): Designates cancer as an occupational disease for firefighters under the Workers’ Compensation Act, provided that the cancer was caused by a work-related exposure to a known carcinogen recognized as a Group 1 carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and the firefighter has four or more years of continuous firefighting service.

o HB 1344 (Rep. Bernie O’Neill): Requires health insurance companies to send payment for services rendered directly to the emergency medical services agency, whether or not the agency participates in the insurance company’s network, when presented with an “assignment of benefits” form signed by the insured patient.

o SB 264 (Sen. Robert Tomlinson, R-Bucks): Allows the PA Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to arrange for burial details for veterans at the Washington Crossing National Cemetery.

• AGING AND OLDER ADULT SERVICES, 9:30 a.m., Room G-50, Irvis Office Building

o Informational meeting with PA Health Care Association and the Pennsylvania Association for Non-Profit Homes for the Aging.

• INSURANCE, 9:30 a.m., Room 39, East Wing

o Informational meeting with the PA Association for Justice on market view.

• PROFESSIONAL LICENSURE, 10 a.m., Room 205, Ryan Office Building

o Proposed Regulation 16A-5423 – Implements the Cancer Drug Repository Program, which would permit pharmacies to voluntarily accept donated cancer drugs and to distribute them to indigent persons.

o Final Form Regulation 16A-4929 – Establishes certification requirements for behavior specialists.

• TRANSPORTATION, 10 a.m., Room B-31, Main Capitol Building

o HB 170 (Rep. Ron Miller, R-York): States that bicycles operated in the normal course of traffic under the speed limit are to travel in the right-hand lane or as close to the right curb as possible unless passing another vehicle or when preparing for a left-hand turn. Noted exceptions are when it is necessary to avoid unsafe surface conditions or when the width of the road is no more than one lane of traffic in each direction. This bill also creates a minimum four-foot safe passing distance, with reduced speed, for vehicles passing a bicycle.

o HB 849 (Rep. Mike Fleck, R-Blair/Huntingdon/Mifflin): Allows neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs) on roadways that have a posted speed limit of 35 miles per hour or less, so long as the NEV meets federal regulations and requirements, has a minimum design speed of 20 miles per hour and a maximum of 25 miles per hour, is properly titled and registered, and the operator holds a valid license.

o HB 1269 (Rep. William Adolph, R-Delaware): Creates special license plates for recipients of the Silver Star, Bronze Star, and Bronze Star for Valor.

o HB 1281 (Rep. Bill DeWeese, D-Greene/Fayette/Washington): Bridge designation: PFC Ronald C. “Smokey” Bakewell Memorial Bridge.

o SB 199 (Sen. Dave Argall, R-Berks/Carbon/Lehigh/Monroe/Northampton/Schuylkill): Road designation: CMSgt. Richard L. Etchberger Memorial Highway.

Session

On Wednesday the House will meet at 11 a.m. for legislative business.

Votes on Second Consideration

• HB 48 (Rep. Mario Scavello):  Establishes a state licensure requirement for prosthetists, orthotists, pedorthists and orthotic fitters under the Medical Practice Act.

• HB 332 (Rep. Tom Killion, R-Delaware/Chester): Establishes a licensure requirement for genetic counselors under the Medical Practice Act.

• HB 333 (Rep. Tom Killion):  Establishes a licensure requirement for genetic counselors under the Osteopathic Medical Practice Act.

• HB 398 (Rep. Dick Stevenson, R-Mercer/Butler):  Establishes the Appraisal Management Company Registration Act.  Will require appraisal management companies to register with the State Board of Certified Real Estate Appraisers and become subject to the board’s regulation and oversight.

• HB 917 (Rep. Jerry Stern, R-Blair): Bridge designation: Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Lightner Memorial Bridge.

• HB 1055 (Rep. Mark Mustio):  Creates a freestanding act known as the Professional Employer Organization and Recognition Act.

• HB 1255 (Rep. Dan Moul, R-Adams/Franklin): Bridge designation: Wildlife Conservation Officer David L. Grove Memorial Bridge.

Votes on Third Consideration

• HB 197 (Gingrich)

• HB 292 (M. Keller)

• HB 396 (O’Neill)

• HB 440 (Mustio)

• HB 639 (Taylor)

• HB 804 (Masser)

• HB 1297 (Everett)

• HB 1301 (Oberlander)

• HB 1312 (Stephens)

• SB 265 (M. White)Thursday, April 28

Committee Meetings/Hearings

• CONSUMER AFFAIRS, 9 a.m., Room B-31, Main Capitol Building

o Public hearing on HB 1294 (Godshall): Allows utilities that provide water and wastewater services to charge consolidated rates and grants the Public Utility Commission the authority to approve, but not require, ratemaking procedures that would accelerate the recovery of capital investments related to infrastructure repair/replacement as proposed by a fixed utility or city natural gas distribution operation.


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