November 18, 2013 – Weekly Session Wrap

Senate Weekly Session Wrap

A Report on the Legislative Session Week of November 18, 2013

Harrisburg Happenings:

Senate Approves Transportation Improvement Funding Package

The Senate approved a comprehensive transportation improvement funding package on November 20th. House Bill 1060 raises approximately $2.3 billion in sustainable annual funding by FY 2017-18 through a number of sources including adjusting vehicle and driver fees for inflation, surcharging fines for drivers who violate traffic laws, uncapping the Oil Company Franchise Tax and achieving significant cost savings by modernizing many PENNDOT services. In addition to providing additional funding for Pennsylvania’s highway and bridge infrastructure and transit agencies, the plan addresses dirt and gravel roads, rail, aviation, ports and bicycle/pedestrian funding needs.

 

Senate Sends Small Games of Chance Bills to Governor

The Senate gave final approval on November 18th to legislation expanding Pennsylvania’s small games of chance law and permitting 50-50 drawings at minor league home games. House Bill 1098 now goes to the Governor for his signature and enactment into law.

The bill allows restaurants and taverns to apply for a license to operate pull-tab games, daily drawings or raffles, while requiring that 60 percent of proceeds from those games be distributed to the state’s General Fund. Five percent of the proceeds would be distributed to local governments.

Senate Bill 1098 also changes requirements for certain nonprofit organizations that are currently licensed to operate small games of chance, including relaxed reporting requirements, clarifications to the distribution of proceeds and an increase in the amount of proceeds a licensed organization may retain.

The Senate concurred on November 19th on House amendments to  House Bill 290, a comprehensive measure amending provisions of the Small Games of Chance Act. These changes include the addition of allowable games, clarification of the term “public interest charities,” drawings and prize limits, special raffle permits, record keeping, licenses and fees, location of games and enforcement responsibilities.

Local Government Purchasing Bills Sent to Governor

The Senate approved legislation the week of November 18th to make it easier for municipal officials to purchase used equipment from another governmental unit.

Generally under the local government codes, municipal officials must advertise and bid contracts over $10,000.  One exception to this requirement is to purchase used equipment, vehicles parts, etc. from a public utility.

House Bill 668 amends the Second Class Township Code and House Bill 669 amends the First Class Township Code to expand the exception to include the purchase of used equipment, vehicles, parts, etc. from another municipality, county, school district, municipal authority, council of government or the state or federal government.

The bills now go to the Governor for his signature and enactment into law. Other bills receiving final legislative approval the week of November 18th and sent to the Governor include:

House Bill 27 increases the penalties for certain types of harassment if the offender is violating a protection from abuse order when committing the harassment.

House Bill 388 gives municipalities an additional enforcement mechanism to collect delinquent property taxes.

House Bill 714 increases the penalty for stealing the Social Security number of a child in order to obtain a credit card, secure a loan or buy property.

Senate Bill 802 modernizes and revises the Commonwealth’s Boiler and Unfired Pressure Vessel Law.

House Bill 1356 extends the state Wiretap Act for five years to December 31, 2018

Senate Action:

 Senate Approves Bill to Maximize State Tuition Assistance for National Guard

The Senate on November 18th approved legislation amending the Pennsylvania National Guard Educational Assistance Program (EAP) to help ensure proper distribution of federal and state financial aid.

Senate Bill 1115 clarifies that grants under the EAP will be applied after federal assistance programs such as the GI Bill and Federal Tuition Assistance. In addition, the legislation ensures that EAP funds are only used for tuition/fees, room/board and books as long as such costs are documented by the educational institution. Senate Bill 1115 now goes to the House of Representatives.

Senate Passes Military Physician Incentive Legislation

The Senate on November 18th approved legislation intended to assist the Pennsylvania National Guard in its efforts to recruit and retain military resident physicians.  The intent of the Military Physician Incentive Program in Senate Bill 403 is to use state Educational Assistance Program (EAP) funding to encourage those officers to continue their service in the National Guard.

Although military physicians qualify for various federally-funded bonuses and incentive programs that include military obligations, none of these programs currently require continued service in the National Guard.  Senate Bill 403 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

            Senate Approves Livery Providers Fair Lien Act

The Senate on November 18th approved legislation creating the Pennsylvania Livery Providers Fair Lien Act as a way to ensure stable owners are properly compensated for the costs of caring for horses placed in their care. Senate Bill 995 creates a lien attachment for services rendered as soon as the horse is placed in the care of a stable owner. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Other bills sent to the House include:

Senate Bill 267 assists school entities in making automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) available in all school buildings. Specifically, the bill requires the Department of Education, in consultation with the Department of Health and Department of General Services, to biennially issue an invitation to bid for the cost of automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) and other equipment and supplies necessary for the proper operation of the device. School entities, including non-public schools, would then be able to purchase AEDs at the contract bid price.

Bills approved by the Senate this week and returned to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments include:

House Bill 1193 amends the First Class Township Code to allow police officers to serve on their local school board without having to resign from the police force.

House Bill 1348 and House Bill 1351 set requirements for physician review of patient records completed by physician assistants.