State Representative Mike Turzai
28th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Contact: Stephen Miskin RepTurzai.com
TO: Capitol Correspondents, News Editors, Assignment Editors
FROM: Stephen Miskin
Press Secretary to the Majority Leader
SUBJ: House Action for the Week of May 23, 2011
DATE: May 20, 2011
Budget, Unemployment Comp Reform and Taxpayer Protection on House Schedule
The state House returns to session on Monday, May 23, to pass a General Appropriations bill (the state budget) and deal with various issues of importance.
Budget: Setting the Right Priorities, Spending with Sustainable Revenues
House Republicans are shifting budget priorities to education funding over welfare spending. The House will vote next week on a budget (House Bill 1485) which is a responsible, on-time, pay-as-you-go budget that includes no new taxes or new borrowing – ending the trend of spending money we don’t have. The House budget cuts back the proposed hike in the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) spending to redistribute those funds to education. DPW lost $1.7 billion in one-time federal stimulus funds, which totals 16 percent of its fiscal year 2010-11 budget. Obviously, adjustments are necessary.
The House budget aims to more equitably distribute available resources to support the most important state programs. The House proposal breaks from the past by not spending money which is not reliable or sustainable.
Unemployment Compensation, Bringing Integrity to the System
House Bill 916 proposes several commonsense reforms to the unemployment compensation system. The reform legislation preserves the fiscal integrity of the system for those claimants who act in good faith and are actively seeking employment.
The changes included would:
- Require applicants to actually search for a new job (currently, people just need to be “available” to search for a job).
- Treat severance pay as wages, thus offsetting them from benefits. Currently, 32 states take into account dismissal pay. Twenty-three states have a prorated offset for receipt of dismissal (severance) pay, including Delaware, Maryland, and Ohio. Nine states have laws that disqualify individuals for benefits for weeks they receive dismissal payments. The Department of Labor and Industry estimates this change could save as much as $88 million in benefit outlays from the Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund
Mandate Relief, Property Tax Hike Voice, and Pay-to-Play Reform to Protect Taxpayers
Next week, the House will take up House Bill 1411 which will limit the information school districts collect to only what is required by the federal government for reimbursement purposes. The bill partially suspends what is known as the PIMS/PELICAN/ELN management information systems which will save school districts money due to the cost of data collection and input.
House Bill 1021 will make attorney contingency fee contracts more transparent in the procurement process. The bill puts forth policies and procedures the Office of General Counsel would need to follow if it chooses to commit the Commonwealth into attorney contingency fee contracts.
Removing exemptions from referendum requirements for Act 1 school property tax increases is the basis of House Bill 1326. Under the bill, school districts would not be permitted to raise taxes beyond an inflationary index without putting the increase to a referendum vote.
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 23
- FINANCE, 11 a.m., Room 60, East Wing
- HB 665 (Rep. Doug Reichley, R-Berks/Lehigh): Allows a surviving spouse to file a joint return if they would have been able to file a joint return had the deceased spouse lived the entire year. If both spouses die, the fiduciary of the estate may file a joint return if the spouses would have been eligible to do so had they survived the entire year.
- HB 1333 (Rep. George Dunbar, R-Westmoreland): Provides an exception from a penalty for failure to make estimated tax payments and adds a special tax provision for poverty within an existing exception.
- HB 1334 (Rep. Dick Hess, R-Fulton/Bedford/Huntingdon): Replaces the semi-monthly sales tax return requirement with a single monthly return, showing both an estimated tax for the current month and an actual payment for the prior month, for taxpayers whose total tax reported for the third quarter of the preceding year equals or exceeds $25,000.
- VETERANS AFFAIRS AND EMERGECY PREPAREDNESS, 11 a.m., Room G-50, Irvis Office Building
- Informational meeting with the Adjutant General on the status of current DMVA programs for veterans and the Pennsylvania National Guard.
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 916 (Rep. Scott Perry, R-York/Cumberland): Changes the PA Unemployment Compensation Law by increasing the amount of wages necessary to establish credit week from $50 to “sixteen times the minimum wage rate”; establishes a process for base year employers to obtain relief from charges; requires claimants to make an active search for suitable employment; increases the earnings required before reapplying for benefits from six-times the weekly benefit rate to ten-times the weekly benefit rate; tightens the eligibility for individuals who voluntarily quit their employment; defines willful misconduct; calculates the weekly benefit rate on the average of the two highest quarters in a claimant’s base year, rather than on the single highest quarter of their base year; increases the minimum number of credit weeks that a claimant must have in their base year to qualify for benefits from 16 to 18; increases the time period used to calculate the maximum weekly benefit rate from one to three years; creates offset for receipt of severance pay; and allows either party to provide testimony at hearings via telephone
- 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.
- HB 1485 (Rep. Bill Adolph, R-Delaware): The General Appropriation Act of 2011.
- HR 244 (Rep. Kevin Murphy, D-Lackawanna): Commemorates the 25th anniversary of the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985(COBRA).
Votes on Third Consideration
- HB 170 (Rep. Ron Miller, R-York): Amends Vehicle Code provisions relating to driving on the right side of the roadway, overtaking vehicles on the left, no passing zones, and minimum speed regulations to incorporate provisions relating to pedalcycles.
- HB 1053 (Rep. Mauree Gingrich, R-Lebanon): Amends the Crimes Code to provide for the offense of neglect of a care-dependent person and creates the offense of abuse of a care-dependent person.
- HB 257 (Rep. Seth Grove, R-York): Eliminates the need for the approval of the Department of Education, via PLANCON, for school construction projects that are not eligible for state reimbursement.
- 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.
- 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.
- HB 1055 (Rep. Mark Mustio, R-Allegheny): Provides for the registration and regulation of professional employer organizations and sets forth the powers and duties of the Department of Labor and Industry.
- HB 1278 (Rep. Joseph Brennan, D-Lehigh/Northampton): Amends the Liquor Code to allow certain licensees to sell liquor and malt or brewed beverages for consumption off the licensed premises so long as those licensees are located within the boundaries of an entity utilizing a special occasion permit.
- 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.
Tuesday, May 24
- VETERANS AFFAIRS AND EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS, 8:45 a.m., Room 205, Ryan Office Building
- HB 973 (Rep. Deberah Kula, D-Fayette/Westmoreland): Requires funeral directors and crematories to ascertain whether a deceased person is a veteran, a spouse of a veteran, or a dependent child of a veteran and requires proper notification to a veteran’s organization for burial arrangements if the remains go unclaimed.
- Informational meeting with the Pennsylvania State Veterans Commission and the Pennsylvania War Veterans Council on legislative priorities.
- INSURANCE, 9 a.m., Room 39, East Wing
- HB 424 (Rep. Robert Godshall): Increases the penalty for certain violations of the Public Adjuster Licensing Law from a misdemeanor to a third-degree felony, states that prosecution for violations is at the discretion of the Insurance Commissioner, and further states that violations under the Public Adjuster Licensing Law may also violate the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law.
- JUDICIARY, 9 a.m., Room B-31, Main Capitol Building
- HB 1025 (Rep. Thomas Caltagirone, D-Berks): Increases the dollar amount threshold necessary for the county clerk of courts to report the judgment to the prothonotary from $1,000 to $5,000 and establishes a triennial inflation adjustment of the threshold based on the local urban workers consumer price index.
- HB 1436 (Rep. Tarah Toohil, R-Luzerne): Increases the penalty of official oppression from a misdemeanor of the second-degree to a felony of the third-degree, establishes a minimum sentence of two years for anyone convicted of official oppression, and allows the court to order the convicted person to make restitution for all reasonable expenses incurred by the victim or on the victim’s behalf.
- HB 1546 (Rep. Tarah Toohil): Allows the Juvenile Court Judges’ Commission to analyze trends, evidence-based programs and practices; to make recommendations to judges, the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, and other appropriate entities; and to post appropriate information on the commission’s website.
- HB 1567 (Rep. Karen Boback, R-Columbia/Luzerne/Wyoming): Amends the Public Employee Pension Forfeiture Act to provide for forfeiture upon the employee/official’s entry of a guilty plea or upon entry of a jury verdict or judicial order of guilty. Currently, forfeiture is not triggered until the public official or employee is sentenced.
- SB 1006 (Sen. Elder Vogel, R-Allegheny/Beaver/Lawrence): Adds bath salts, Salvia Divinorum, and synthetic marijuana to the list of schedule one narcotics.
- LOCAL GOVERNMENT, 9:15 a.m., Room G-50, Irvis Office Building
- HB 1441 (Rep. Chris Ross, R-Chester): Allows the Local Government Commission to electronically publish local government codes on its website.
- HB 1446 (Rep. Chris Ross): Authorizes municipalities, under the First Class Township Code, to enter into an employment agreement with a municipal manager and clarifies the process through which a municipality may create and abolish the office of municipal manger.
- HB 1447 (Rep. Chris Ross): Authorizes municipalities, under the Second Class Township Code, to enter into an employment agreement with a township manager and clarifies the process through which a municipality may create and abolish the office of township manger.
- HB 1448 (Rep. Chris Ross): Authorizes incorporated towns to enter into an employment agreement with a township manager and clarifies the process through which an incorporated town may create and abolish the office of township manager.
- HB 1449 (Rep. Chris Ross): Authorizes boroughs to enter into an employment agreement with a borough manager and clarifies the process through which a borough may create and abolish the office of borough manager.
- HB 1450 (Rep. Chris Ross): Authorizes third class cities to enter into an employment agreement with a city administrator/manager, clarifies the process through which a third class city may create and abolish the office of city administrator/manager, and establishes the powers and duties of a city administrator/manager.
- HB 1451 (Rep. Chris Ross): Allows county tax claims bureaus to recover, through sale proceeds, costs that they may incur in maintaining upset properties in salable condition or in compliance with maintenance codes. It does not create any affirmative duty on the part of the county or tax claims bureau to rehabilitate or maintain the property and it shall not impose any liability for injuries to persons or property that may occur on the property subject to the rehabilitation or maintenance.
- HB 1453 (Rep. Chris Ross): Expands the authorized methods of recording and storing judicial records to include optical imaging technology and establishes that a copy of any record that has been destroyed, or disposed of as provided by law, shall be admissible in evidence in any matter with the same force and effect as if the original record had been produced.
- HB 1452 (Rep. Chris Ross): Allows volunteer members of emergency management teams to receive workers’ compensation for injuries sustained while responding to an emergency or while performing any other duties authorized by the municipality.
- AGING AND OLDER ADULT SERVICES, 9:30 a.m., Room 60, East Wing
- Informational meeting with the Pennsylvania Assisted Living Association.
- HEALTH, 10 a.m., Room 205, Ryan Office Building
- HB 1362 (Rep. Brandon Neuman, D-Washington): Requires student athletes to obtain a baseline concussion screening with their required pre-participation physical examination and establishes that any student athlete that shows signs consistent with a concussion during athletic activity must be immediately removed from practice and competition and may not return to the athletic activity until another baseline concussion screening is performed and the athlete has been cleared by an appropriate medical professional.
- LEGISLATIVE BUDGET AND FINANCE, 10 a.m., Hearing Room 3, North Office Building
- Meeting to discuss and release performance audit reports on Pennsylvania’s Access to Justice Act and the adequacy of fees charged in Pennsylvania’s instant check system for firearms purchases.
- PROFESSIONAL LICENSURE, 10 a.m., Room B-31, Main Capitol Building
- HB 1280 (Rep. Tony Payton, Jr, D-Philadelphia): Allows acupuncturists to provide services to individuals who show no symptoms of a condition without a medical diagnosis and requires acupuncturists to obtain and maintain professional liability insurance coverage of at least $1 million per occurrence or claims made.
- Reg. 16A-677: Establishes continued competency requirements for licensed occupational therapists as a condition of license renewal and reactivation and sets forth the fees for continued competency providers and course approvals. Effective the first biennium following publication, the regulation would require all licensed occupational therapists to complete a minimum of 24 contact hours in at least two acceptable continued competency activities each biennium, after their first biennial renewal period, as a condition of license renewal.
- STATE GOVERNMENT, 10 a.m., Room 39, East Wing
- Informational meeting on HB 726 (Rep. Stan Saylor, R-York County): 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.
- TRANSPORTATION, 10 a.m., Room G-50, Irvis Office Building
- HB 1173 (Rep. Tom Killion, R-Chester/Delaware): Regarding metropolitan transportation authorities, this bill makes editorial changes to refer to the codified version of the Sunshine Act and removes the requirement that, on rail passenger units, only bids for interior advertising shall be solicited.
- HB 1203 (Rep. John Lawrence, R-Chester): Allows owners of antique or classic vehicles to request permission to display vintage registration plates from the model year of the vehicle so long as the vintage registration plate is: provided by the owner, originally issued between the years 1906 and 1975, and legible from a reasonable distance. A $75 application fee is established and vintage registration plates are not permissible for general daily use.
- HB 1304 (Rep. Harry Readshaw, D-Allegheny): Alters the appointment of the Pittsburgh Port Authority Board from being strictly under county executive jurisdiction to include appointments from the governor and the majority and minority leaders of the state House of Representatives and the state Senate.
- HB 1355 (Rep. Curt Sonney, R-Erie): Bridge designation: Jarrid L. King Memorial Bridge.
- HB 1399 (Rep. Scott Perry): Expands the definition of “motorcycle” to include vehicles designed to travel on two wheels in contact with the ground that have been modified to include two stabilizing wheels on the rear of the motor vehicle.
- HB 1458 (Rep. Will Tallman, R-Adams/York): Establishes that a violation regarding nonreciprocity of operational limitations is a summary offense that carries, on conviction, a fine of no less than $500 and no more than $1,000.
- LABOR AND INDUSTRY, Call of the Chair, Room 205, Irvis Office Building
- HB 1548 (Rep. Thomas Murt, R-Montgomery/Philadelphia): Comprehensive amendment of the Child Labor Law to address: prohibitions on employment or work in certain establishments, including establishments that sell alcohol; restrictions on hours of labor; educational requirements for working minors; the permit applications process with the Department of Labor and Industry, which includes an initial $350 fee and a $200 renewal fee; the establishment of a trust account for the working minor and the transfer of the minor’s earnings into their trust account; and the participation of minors in reality television or documentaries.
- CONSUMER AFFAIRS, Call of the Chair, Room B-31, Main Capitol Building
- HB 10 (Rep. Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny): Eliminates the state-mandated monopoly on transit services in Allegheny County, expands the jurisdiction of the Public Utility Commission to include regulation of all transportation services in second class counties except those provided by a port authority located within the second class county, and requires port authorities within second class counties to supply an annual report to the Consumer Affairs and Transportation committees of the General Assembly.
On Tuesday the House will meet at 11 a.m. for legislative business.
Votes on Second Consideration
- 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.
- HB 1219 (Rep. Dick Hess): Bridge designation: Donald H. Clark Memorial Bridge.
- HB 1264 (Rep. Cherelle Parker, D-Philadelphia): Allows for the use of expert testimony in cases where a conviction would result in the requirement to register under Megan’s Law and cases relating to statutory sexual assault. Testimony relates to the response of the victim.
- HB 1459 (Rep. Chris Ross): Amends the Third Class City Code civil service provision relating to the promotion of police officers in optional charter and plan cities.
- HB 1460 (Rep. Chris Ross): Requires a background investigation for the hiring and promotion of first class township civil service police and firemen.
- HB 1461 (Rep. Chris Ross): Requires a background investigation for the hiring and promotion of borough civil service police and firemen.
- HB 1411 (Rep. Brian Ellis, R-Butler): Partially suspends PIMS/PELICAN/ELN management information systems for school districts by limiting input to federally required data or that needed for Commonwealth reimbursements.
- HB 1424 (Rep. Stephen Bloom, R-Cumberland): Requires the Department of Agriculture to create, license, and promote the Pennsylvania Preferred Trademark for the sale or promotion of a Pennsylvania-based agricultural commodity and creates the PA Preferred Trademark Licensing Fund.
Votes on Third Consideration
- HB 916 (Rep. Scott Perry)
- HB 1336 (Rep. Bob Godshall)
- HB 1485 (Rep. Bill Adolph)
Wednesday, May 25
- AGING AND OLDER ADULT SERVICES, 9:30 a.m., Room G-50, Irvis Office Building
- HB 511 (Rep. Tim Hennessey, R-Chester): Provided that a pharmacy agrees to participate in a provider network, this bill prohibits any health insurance company, agent, contractor, government program or pharmacy benefit manager in the administration of a health insurance policy from restricting access to retail community pharmacy services.
- HR 106 (Rep. Martin Causer, R-Cameron/Potter/McKean): Directs the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to conduct a study of the Pennsylvania Lottery to analyze its ability to continue to support programs and services for older Pennsylvanians.
- GAME AND FISHERIES, 9:30 a.m., Room 39, East Wing
- HB 1236 (Rep. John Evans, R-Crawford/Erie): Reduces the active duty service requirement from 180 to 60 consecutive days for reduced-fee fishing licenses.
- HB 1237 (Rep. John Evans): Reduces the active duty service requirement from 180 to 60 consecutive days for reduced-fee hunting licenses.
- HB 1398 (Rep. Edward Staback, D-Lackawanna/Wayne): Bans future possession of certain exotic wildlife by the general public by ending the issuance of general exotic wildlife possession permits as of January 1, 2012, and redefines “Exotic Wildlife” and “Exotic Wildlife Dealer.”
- HB 1417 (Rep. Edward Staback): Adds Wildlife Conservation Officers and Waterway Conservation Officers to the list of officials protected against aggravated assault, making assault causing bodily injury a second-degree felony, assault causing serious bodily injury a first-degree felony, and the discharge of firearm during assault a first-degree felony.
- SB 274 (Sen. Richard Alloway, R-Adams/Franklin/York): Allows the Pennsylvania Game Commission to establish regulations to permit the transfer of certain tags or permits from a licensed mentor hunter to a youth hunter participating in the Mentored Youth Hunting Program, changes the falconry permit fee structure from $25 per bird to a flat $50 fee, and lowers the minimum age for a falconry permit from 16 to 12.
- INSURANCE, 9:30 a.m., Room 205, Ryan Office Building
- Public hearing on American Health Benefits Exchanges.
- URBAN AFFAIRS, 9:30 a.m., Room 60, East Wing
- SB 353 (Sen. Wayne Fontana, D-Allegheny): Prohibits the issuance of private transfer fee obligations, establishes liability for damages incurred on individuals who impose private transfer fee obligations after the effective date, requires disclosure of existing transfer fees in any contract for the sale of real property, and requires the payee of existing transfer fee obligations to forward to the recorder of deeds in each relevant county specific information on the nature of the transfer fee obligation within six months of the effective date or else the transfer fee obligation shall become void.
- ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCES AND ENERGY, 10 a.m., Room B-31, Main Capitol Building
- HB 1416 (Rep. Eli Evankovich, R-Armstrong/Westmoreland): Requires the Department of Environmental Protection to submit annual reports to the governor and the General Assembly regarding the funding and expenditures of the Clean Water Fund, the Solid Waste Abatement Fund, and the Clean Air Fund.
- SB 302 (Sen. Mary Jo White, R-Clarion/Forest/Venango/Butler/Erie/Warren): Establishes July 1 as the annual deadline for the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Department of Education, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, and the State System of Higher Education to publish their annual report regarding their use of Keystone Funds.
On Wednesday the House will meet at 11 a.m. for legislative business.
Votes on Second Consideration
- HB 463 (Rep. Michele Brooks, R-Crawford/Lawrence/Mercer): Allows individuals enrolled in PACE and PACENET as of Dec. 31, 2010, to remain eligible for the programs if the maximum income limit is exceeded due solely to Social Security cost-of-living adjustments.
- HB 608 (Rep. Michele Brooks): Directs the Department of Environmental Protection to encourage the planting of bioenergy crops on abandoned mine lands and establishes a full-cost bonding program to provide sum-certain guarantees to cover Stage III reclamation liabilities on areas replanted with bioenergy crops.
- HB 838 (Rep. John Bear, R-Lancaster): Defines “ophthalmic surgery” and clarifies that the practice of optometry shall not include ophthalmic surgery.
- HB 1326 (Rep. Seth Grove): Removes exemptions from referendum requirement for Act 1 school property tax increases and ties future increases to rate of inflation (without a referendum).
- HB 864 (Rep. Rick Geist, R-Blair): Increases the membership of the Pedalcycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee from 15 to 17 by adding two more public appointees and generalizes the requirements for the public appointees.
- HB 934 (Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler): Requires proof of identification for voting at every election and allows for provisional ballots if proof of identification cannot be produced based on either religious beliefs or indigence.
- 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.
Votes on Third Consideration
- HB 382 (Rep. Jim Cox)
- HB 1219 (Rep. Dick Hess)
- HB 1424 (Rep. Stephen Bloom)
- HB 1459 (Rep. Chris Ross)
- HB 1411 (Rep. Brian Ellis)
- HB 1460 (Rep. Chris Ross)
- HB 1461 (Rep. Chris Ross)
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