A report on the Legislative Session Week of February 11, 2013
Bill ensuring PSU fine money benefits Pennsylvanians goes to Governor
Legislation to ensure that fines paid to the NCAA by Penn State would benefit Commonwealth residents received final approval in the House Wednesday and was sent to the Governor for enactment into law. Senate Bill 187 would place the fine money in a trust fund administered by the state Treasury and appropriated to the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency for child advocacy programs and to combat child sex abuse.
Senate approves legislation to abolish Philadelphia Traffic Court
The Senate unanimously approved legislation on Wednesday to abolish the Philadelphia Traffic Court. The Philadelphia Traffic Court has been plagued with sustained allegations of corruption and ticket-fixing over multiple decades, leading to the recent indictments of nine current and former Traffic Court judges.
Senate Bill 333 would eliminate the Philadelphia Traffic Court in the state constitution. Senate Bill 334 would statutorily transfer its responsibilities to Philadelphia Municipal Court. Both bills now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Legislation sets uniform standards for county Veterans Affairs Directors
The Senate approved legislation on Wednesday to set standards and provide uniformity across the commonwealth for county Directors of Veterans Affairs. Senate Bill 302 amends the County Code (Act 130 of 1955) to expand the duties of, and to establish eligibility requirements for, the position. The legislation is supported by the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA), the Pennsylvania State Association of County Directors of Veterans Affairs (PSACDVA), and the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP).
SB 302 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Public hearing focuses on school emergency plans, security measures
School emergency plans and security measures designed to ensure student safety and increase school-to-parent communication during an emergency received an in-depth review during a joint public hearing by the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee and the Education Committee on Wednesday.
Among the strategies discussed at the hearing was Senate Bill 10, legislation I co-sponsored that would dramatically increase the amount of funding available for grants which schools could utilize for school safety and violence prevention initiatives, including training and hiring armed guards to protect their students, teachers and administrators.
Video and written testimony from the hearing are available here.
Governor’s transportation plan examined during hearing
State Transportation Secretary Barry Schoch briefed the Senate Transportation Committee on the Governor’s proposed transportation improvement plan during a Tuesday afternoon public hearing. Secretary Schoch detailed the Governor’s proposal to lift the cap on the Oil Company Franchise Tax and the ways the additional revenues would be used to rehabilitate Pennsylvania’s transportation network. Video from the hearing is available here.
Committee reviews array of technology issues
The Senate Communications and Technology Committee held a hearing on Wednesday to hear experts detail projected advances in variety of technological fields. The hearing – entitled “Technology, Communications and eHealth” – provided the Corbett Administration, telecommunications representatives and health care officials with an opportunity to speak about the current environment and projected technological advancements in their areas. For video and the written testimony from the testifiers, click here.
Senate Environmental Resources Committee approves two bills
The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, which I serve on, approved two bills on Tuesday.
Senate Bill 411, which I co-sponsored, would limit the treatment liability of entities that choose to utilize acid mine water (AMD) for hydraulic fracturing of oil/gas wells, or other industrial uses. This liability protection was a policy recommendation that was acknowledged in the report issued by the Governor’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission.
Senate Resolution 29, which I co-sponsored, directs the Center for Rural Pennsylvania to study the residential, commercial and industrial extension of natural gas distribution infrastructure by collecting and analyzing information on the estimated demand for natural gas service in un-served and under-served areas of the commonwealth. The Center would be responsible to report its findings, plans, and recommendations to the General Assembly no later than August 1.