What’s Happening in the House – Week of May 2

Sexting, Texting and Protecting: PA House Doing Its Job

The state House returns to session on Monday, May 2. To research bills on the schedule, visithttp://www.legis.state.pa.us/. Most events will be streamed live on http://pahousegop.com/.

Sexting

It’s a disturbing trend in teenage flirting, the sending of nude or semi-nude photos from cell phone to cell phone; it’s called “sexting,” and while the X-rated offerings are usually intended just for a boyfriend or girlfriend, the photos often wind up being shared.  The House Judiciary Committee will address the issue Tuesday as it considers sending House Bill 815 (Rep. Seth Grove, R-York County) to the House floor for a vote.

The sexting legislation would create a new misdemeanor of the second degree for minors age 13 to 17 caught disseminating such material.  Under current law, teens could be subject to felony prosecution for these acts, which is often considered too harsh. The proposed legislation will allow cases of minor-to-minor sexting to be tried in juvenile courts, which will provide a menu of adjudication options including counseling and expungement of the offense from a minor’s permanent criminal record.

Texting

Distracted driving legislation intended to curb driver distractions for all drivers – House Bill 896 (Rep. Chris Ross, R-Chester County) and House Bill 8 (Rep. Kathy Watson, R-Bucks County) –   will be voted by the House Transportation Committee on Tuesday, May 3. Dangerous distractions can result in serious injury or death, and the House will be taking action to make Pennsylvania roads safer.

Protecting

Protecting students and parents. The House will vote to expand Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program. 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 education and expands educational opportunities for all Pennsylvanians.  With 111 co-sponsors, the EITC legislation, House Bill 1330 (Rep. Tom Quigley, R-Montgomery County), is scheduled for a vote next week by the full House.

Protecting consumers. Robo-calls and telemarketing calls annoy people to no end. The “Do-Not-Call List” was established to help rid residents of the nuisance calls, but the list has an expiration date. House Bill 382 (Rep Jim Cox, R-Berks County) would make a phone number on the list permanent until it is no longer valid. House Bill 247 (Rep. Seth Grove, R-York County) would add texting to the “Do-Not-Call List” as a prohibited activity.

Protecting property taxpayers. The House will vote on several school mandate relief bills aimed at saving districts construction and purchasing costs. Further, the House Education Committee will vote on two bills lifting restrictions on two mandates. House Bill 1363 (Rep Kathy Rapp, R-Warren County), grants a two-year moratorium on professional development requirements. House Bill 1411 (Rep. Brian Ellis, R-Butler County) would cut the state mandated data for a management information system.

Protecting transportation dollars. House Bill 3 (Rep. Rick Geist, R-Blair County), which authorizes public/private partnerships (P3s) to help ease the transportation funding problem facing the Commonwealth while strengthening the infrastructure, is scheduled for a vote by the full House next week.

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.

Monday, May 2

Committee Meetings/Hearings

• CHILDREN AND YOUTH, 10:30 a.m., Room 60, East Wing

o Meeting on the Department of Public Welfare’s Policies and Procedures regarding quarterly payments to counties for children and youth services and juvenile legal services.

• FINANCE, 11 a.m., Room 205, Ryan Office Building

o Informational meeting on:

o HB 1326 (Rep. Seth Grove, R-York):  Restricts school districts from raising property taxes above the rate of inflation unless approved via voter referendum and rescinds FY 2011-2012 taxes that were increased at a higher percentage than the rate of inflation.

o HB 1383 (Rep. Anthony DeLuca, D-Allegheny):  Eliminates the Department of Education’s ability to approve school district property tax increases above the Act 1 index and transfers the approval of those increases that exceed the index to a voter referendum.

Session

On Monday, the House will convene at 1 p.m. for legislative business. The members will vote the uncontested calendar and Rule 35 resolutions.

Votes on Second Consideration

• HB 3 (Rep. Rick Geist, R-Blair):  Provides a broad-based legislative framework authorizing the implementation of transportation-specific public-private partnerships.

• HB 148 (Rep. John Payne, R-Dauphin):  Sales by liquor licensees/restrictions/unlawful acts.  Creates an off-premises catering permit.  Allows the holder of a restaurant, eating place or hotel license up to 14 hours per week during which the licensee may discount the price of alcoholic beverages.  Allows for certain special occasion permits.

• HB 257 (Rep. Seth Grove):  Approval of the Department of Education for school construction projects shall not be required if the project is not eligible for state reimbursement.  Eliminate PlanCon when the school district is not receiving state funds for the project.

• HB 285 (Rep. Mark Keller, R-Perry/Franklin):  Amends the Public School Code to provide increased bid limits for construction and supply contracts.

• HB 584 (Rep. Peter Daley, D-Fayette/Washington):  Interchange designation: Sergeant Nathan P. Kennedy Memorial Interchange.

• HB 585 (Rep. Peter Daley):  Bridge designation: Stanley Jurgaitis Memorial Bridge.

• HB 586 (Rep. Peter Daley):  Bridge designation: Stan Musial Bridge.

• HB 860 (Rep. Deberah Kula, D-Fayette/Washington):  Amends the Game and Wildlife Code to lower the allowable blood alcohol content of adults for determination of hunting or furtaking under the influence of alcohol or controlled substance, and allows the Game Commission to promulgate regulations regarding consent and administration of testing.

• HB 869 (Rep. Ron Marsico, R-Dauphin):  Authorizes funeral directors to display flashing or revolving purple lights on any funeral processional vehicle which is being driven in a funeral procession.

• HB 1022 (Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny):  Amends the Judicial Code to reduce the statute of limitations on civil actions for the acquisition of title to occupied, single family homes on lots of one acre or less through adverse possession.

• HB 1330 (Rep. Tom Quigley, R-Montgomery):  Increasing EITC from $75 million to $100 million this year (taking $25 million from PA Assessment (Keystone Exams) and then up to $200 million the following year.   Provides for the distribution of tax credits and increases the income limitations for scholarship recipients under the Educational Improvement Tax Credit program.

• HB 1345 (Rep. John Taylor, R-Philadelphia):  Moves the Office of Safe Schools Advocate for the Philadelphia school district from Pennsylvania’s Department of Education  to the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.

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

• HR 42 (Rep. Dick Hess, R-Bedford/Fulton/Huntingdon):  Resolution urging the Department of Health to revise its disease monitoring practices in the Commonwealth.

• HR 87 (Rep. Jeff Pyle, R-Armstrong/Indiana):  Resolution urging the EPA to stop its unlawful application of the Guidance Memo relating to the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, which is a substantive change to the permitting procedure conferred on the states and to restore regulations that previously existed.

Votes on Third Consideration

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

• HB 332 (Rep. Tom Killion, R-Chester/Delaware): 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-Butler/Mercer):  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 440 (Rep. Mark Mustio, R-Allegheny):  Amends the Workers’ Compensation Act to allow insurers to provide coverage for sole proprietors.

• 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.

• HB 1301 (Rep. Donna Oberlander, R-Armstrong/Clarion): Amends provisions relating to Medical Assistance Transportation Program involving transportation to methadone clinics.

Tuesday, May 3

Committee Meetings/Hearings

• ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCES AND ENERGY, 9 a.m., Room 60, East Wing

o Informational discussion with the Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection on several environmental issues.

• TRANSPORTATION, 9:15 a.m., Room G-50, Irvis Office Building

o HB 8 (Rep. Kathy Watson, R-Bucks):  Establishes the reading, writing, or sending of a text message while driving a motor vehicle as a primary offense, subject to a fine between $50-$100 and one point on the driver’s record.

o HB 9 (Rep. Kathy Watson):  Creates primary offense enforcement of the seat belt and booster seat laws for all drivers and passengers under the age of 18; limits the number of passengers under the age of 18 in a vehicle driven by a junior driver to one, regardless of whether the parent or guardian is present in the vehicle or not; and increases the number of practical driving experience hours required before a minor with a learner’s permit can apply for a junior driver’s license from 50 to 65.

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 896 (Rep. Chris Ross, R-Chester County):  Creates a penalty, in the form of an additional fine of $50, for those drivers convicted of careless driving if they are found to have been distracted at the time of the violation by the use of any electronic or mechanical device, personal grooming device, food, drink, or printed material. Further specifies that a person cannot be convicted under this section unless also convicted of careless driving.

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 HB1219 (Rep. Dick Hess):  Bridge designation: Donald H. Clark Memorial Bridge.

• STATE GOVERNMENT, 9:30 a.m., Room 140, Main Capitol 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.

o SB 916 (Sen. Charles McIlhinney, R-Bucks/Montgomery):  Applies the voting standards developed by the Voting Standards Development Board, in regards to what constitutes a vote, to all elections in 2011 and 2012.

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

o HB 135 (Rep. John Sabatina, D-Philadelphia):  Adds the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing to the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency; allows the Attorney General, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and members of the General Assembly to designate a proxy with voting rights; allows the Commission to establish an advisory committee; and creates new language on the powers and duties of the Targeted Community Revitalization and Crime Prevention Advisory Committee and the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Committee.

o HB 267 (Rep. Mike Reese, R-Fayette/Westmoreland):  Allows for the imposition of a fee, to be no less than $10, for the creation of an installment payment plan for fines and costs imposed in criminal cases.

o HB 815 (Rep. Seth Grove):  Adds a criminal offense of sexting by minors, a misdemeanor of the second-degree, provides for adjudicatory alternatives and record expungement, and amends the existing child pornography statute to reflect the addition of this offense.

o HB 1352 (Rep. Todd Stephens, R-Montgomery):  Adds the offense of Institutional Sexual Assault in a school setting to the list of offenses that act as a bar to employment for teachers.

• PROFESSIONAL LICENSURE, 10 a.m., Room G-50, Irvis Office Building

o Public hearing on HB 646 (Rep. Kate Harper, R-Montgomery):  Allows the state licensing boards and commissions under the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affiars to expunge licensees’ disciplinary records involving minor violations so long as they meet certain criteria.

Session

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

Votes on Second Consideration

• HB 61 (Rep. Carl Metzgar, R-Bedford/Somerset): Amends a Judicial Code provision relating to time limitations on private collection agencies for the collection of court costs, fines and restitution.

• HB 924 (Rep. Todd Stephens):  Amends the institutional sexual assault statute to include teachers and other employees of public and private schools.

• HB 1121 (Rep. Doug Reichley, R-Berks/Lehigh):  Amends the Judicial Code to provide for a sentencing enhancement for crimes committed in association with a street gang.

• HB 1153 (Rep. Gary Day, R-Berks/Lehigh): Amends the Uniform Firearms Act provisions relating to fees that may be charged for a license to carry a firearm.  Also removes the sunset date for the $5 temporary fee which is currently collected and remitted to the Firearms License to Carry Modernization Account.

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

Votes on Third Consideration

• HB 3 (Rep. Rick Geist)

• HB 148 (Rep. John Payne)

• HB 257 (Rep. Seth Grove)

• HB 285 (Rep. Mark Keller)

• HB 584 (Rep. Peter Daley)

• HB 585 (Rep. Peter Daley)

• HB 586 (Rep. Peter Daley)

• HB 860 (Rep. Deberah Kula)

• HB 869 (Rep. Ron Marsico)

• HB 1022 (Rep. Jake Wheatley)

• HB 1330 (Rep. Tom Quigley)

• HB 1345 (Rep. John Taylor)

• SB 199 (Sen. Dave Argall)

Wednesday, May 4

Committee Meetings/Hearings

• LABOR AND INDUSTRY, 9 a.m., Room 205, Ryan Office Building

o Agenda to be announced.

• STATE GOVERNMENT, 9 a.m., Room B-31, Main Capitol Building

o Public hearing on HB 726 (Rep. Stan Saylor, R-York):  Requires the head of each Commonwealth agency to submit to the Secretary of the Budget and the General Assembly, by Sept. 30, 2012, a strategic plan for all program activities, covering a period of no less than four years forward from the fiscal year in which it is submitted. Further requires agency performance-based budgets, annual performance reports, a Commonwealth performance budget crafted by the Independent Fiscal Office, and provides for Auditor General authority, legislative oversight, training, and two pilot projects.

• VETERANS AFFAIRS AND EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS, 9 a.m., Room G-50, Irvis Office Building

o Informational meeting on the current emergency preparedness and response capabilities for emergencies involving nuclear power plant facilities and their surrounding areas.

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

o HB 1363 (Rep. Kathy Rapp, R-Forest/Mckean/Warren):  Grants a two-year moratorium on the requirement for Pennsylvania public school certificate holders to earn 180 continuing education hours every five years.

o HB 1407 (Rep. Paul Clymer, R-Bucks):  Early Childhood Educators certification mandate extension and review of all early childhood programs to better administer and coordinate.

o HB 1411 (Rep. Brian Ellis, R-Butler):  Partially suspends PIMS/PELICAN/ELN management information systems by limiting input to federally required data or that needed for Commonwealth reimbursements.

• CONSUMER AFFAIRS, 10 a.m., Room 39, East Wing

o HB 247 (Rep. Seth Grove): Prohibits telemarketers from texting individuals who have enrolled their cell phone numbers on the “Do-Not-Call” registry and establishes the protocol that numbers on the “Do-Not-Call” registry will be maintained until they are no longer valid for that subscriber or until the subscriber requests to be removed from the list.

o HB 382 (Rep. Jim Cox, R-Berks County): Extends the registry of a phone number on Pennsylvania’s “Do Not Call” list from five years to indefinitely, or until the number is no longer valid for the subscriber.

o HB 1336 (Rep. Bob Godshall, R-Montgomery):  Adds the definition of “home improvement retailer” to the Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act, expands allowable forms of identification for registration purposes with the Bureau of Consumer Protection, establishes a restricted revenue account in the General Fund to be used for consumer education, and amends prohibited acts.

Session

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

Votes on Third Consideration

• HB 61 (Rep. Carl Metzger)

• HB 924 (Rep. Todd Stephens)

• HB 1121 (Rep. Doug Reichley)

• HB 1153 (Rep. Gary Day)

• HB 1281 (Rep. Bill DeWeese)

Thursday, May 5

Committee Meetings/Hearings

• HUMAN SERVICES, 9 a.m., Room 60, East Wing

o Meeting on public health management.

• GAMING OVERSIGHT, 9:30 a.m., Room G-50, Irvis Office Building

o Public hearing on:

o HB 169 (Rep. Sheryl Delozier, R-Cumberland):  Alters the Local Option Small Games of Chance Act to increase prize limits, provide guidelines for the proceeds of games of chance, creates a $50,000 limit for monthly drawings, requires a licensed distributor to pay a 1 percent surcharge on the amount of all games sales directly to the General Fund, and further provides for enforcement.

o HB 1288 (Rep. Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre/Mifflin):  Increases individual prize limits from $500 to $1000, increases weekly prize limits from $5,000 to $25,000, and establishes that payouts less than $26 do not count towards the weekly limit.

o HB 1323 (Rep. Seth Grove):  Includes coin auctions as a game of chance.


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