Senator Scott Wagner E-Newsletter

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Week of January 29, 2018

In this Edition:

  • Wagner Supports Banning Felons from Receiving Public Pension Benefits
  • Senate Approves Proposal to Improve Special Emergency Response Times
  • Other Bills Approved by the Senate
  • Committee Roundup
  • Up Next

Wagner Supports Banning Felons from Receiving Public Pension Benefits

This week, the Senate approved legislation I cosponsored to strengthen the state’s ability to remove pension benefits from public employees who commit felonies or serve more than five years in prison due to state and federal offenses while on the job.

Senate Bill 611 is needed to close existing loopholes in the system. When I first got to Harrisburg in 2014, I looked at the portraits of former legislative leaders hanging in the halls of the Capitol. Several of those leaders abused the public trust and committed egregious crimes that cost taxpayers millions of dollars. While I was one who thought the portraits should be removed all together, the compromise was to place an additional plaque to outline the crime committed.

What is worse is we have a former senate leader who pleaded guilty to conspiracy and used taxpayer resources for his campaign who is receiving $245,000 a year in pension benefits despite having two pension systems that have a combined liability of more than $60 billion. It is really sad we would need such a law, but this proposal would add protections for taxpayers.

Senate Bill 611 moves to the House of Representatives for its consideration.

Read more about this much-needed reform here and listen to my comments here.

Senate Approves Proposal to Improve Special Emergency Response Times

Off-duty police officers who serve on Special Emergency Response Teams (SERTs) could respond to incidents quicker and more safely under legislation unanimously approved Tuesday by the Senate.

Senate Bill 1015, which I am cosponsoring, would allow SERT officers to use flashing lights and sirens when using their private vehicles to respond to incidents, much like firefighters do now.

Local officials estimate that the use of lights and sirens on personal vehicles could save 10 to 15 minutes in assembling a SERT team for incidents requiring special training, such as kidnappings, barricaded gunmen and hostage negotiations.

Other Bills Approved by the Senate

Senate Resolution 32 directs the Joint State Government Commission to study the use of youth courts in Pennsylvania’s education and juvenile justice systems.

Senate Bill 52 establishes the National Guard Youth Challenge Program.

Senate Bill 234 establishes the Property Assessed Clean Energy program.

Senate Resolution 237 urges counties and local law enforcement, public safety and emergency services to work with the State Police to facilitate the rollout of the new P25 Pa-Star Net radio system.

House Bill 359 addresses penalties for hunters who mistakenly kill an animal. The bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.

Senate Bill 775 establishes the Pennsylvania Museum Preservation Fund.

Senate Bill 799 creates a program for municipalities to meet their taxpayer-funded Chesapeake Bay nutrient reduction mandates.

Senate Bill 898 exempts municipal trucks from state bonding requirements when these vehicles are traveling in order to maintain local roads. 

Senate Bill 1034 addresses Congressional redistricting.

House Bill 1653 makes students enrolled in distance or online education programs eligible for state grants.

Committee Roundup

A recap of activity by the Senate committees I serve on. 

Appropriations

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved six bills on Monday.

Senate Bill 21 promotes the employment of people with disabilities.

Senate Bill 234 establishes the Property Assessed Clean Energy program.

House Bill 359 addresses penalties for hunters who mistakenly kill an animal.

Senate Bill 611 amends the Public Employee Pension Forfeiture Act to require pension forfeiture if a public employee or public official is convicted, pleads guilty, or no defense to any felony offense related to his or her employment.

House Bill 653 provides for an accelerated foreclosure process for vacant and abandoned property.

Senate Bill 898 exempts municipal trucks from state bonding requirements when these vehicles are traveling in order to maintain local roads. 

 

The Appropriations Committee approved three bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 955 establishes a pilot program providing grants to community colleges to partner with secondary schools to train students in fire services.

Senate Bill 1034 addresses Congressional redistricting.

House Bill 1653 makes students enrolled in distance or online education programs eligible for state grants.

Labor & Industry

The Senate Labor and Industry Committee approved House Bill 566 on Tuesday. The bill provides for suspension of performance if payment is not received by a contractor or a subcontractor in accordance with the terms of a construction contract.

Local Government

The Senate Local Government Committee, which I chair, approved 10 bills on Tuesday. 

Senate Bill 114 enables a sewer authority to obtain a court order allowing it to terminate sewer service to commercial customers who are delinquent at least 6 months in payment of sewer bills.

A package of bills amending respective local government statutes provides for concise publication of annual financial reporting information.

House Bill 104 amends Title 53 to require a municipal authority to publicly discuss all acquisitions and the sale or transfer of authority-owned water and sewer infrastructure and how the acquisition or sale will benefit the authority’s existing ratepayers; and requires annual reports within 180 days of the end of an authority’s fiscal year.

Another package of bills authorizes local governments to implement storm water management ordinances and to assess a fee to fund the planning, management, implementation, construction and maintenance of storm water facilities.

House Bill 1364 amends Act 78 of 1979 (“No Bid” Law) to provide for the award of contract for services when no bids are received.

You can read more about our committee meeting here. 

Transportation

The Senate Transportation Committee approved six bills on Wednesday.

House Bill 26 allows for abbreviated portions of an organization’s name on motorcycle special plates.

House Bill 783 exempts manufactured homes not previously titled in Pennsylvania from the tax certification requirement.

House Bill 1239 increases the fine for driving a vehicle without the proper class or type of license from $25 to $200.

House Bill 1845 renames a bridge in Indiana County.

House Bill 1854 renames a portion of Route 522 in Snyder County.

House Bill 1926 renames a portion of Fort Washington Avenue in Montgomery County.

Other Committee Action 

Agriculture & Rural Affairs

The Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee approved three bills on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 816 increases the penalties for owners when their dangerous dogs cause severe injury to another person.

House Bill 1550 amends the Agricultural Area Security Law (Act 43 of 1981) to further provide for restrictions and limitations on preserved farms.

House Bill 1917 strengthens the training and oversight requirements of humane society police officers.

Banking & Insurance

The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee approved two bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 780 promotes telemedicine in Pennsylvania as a way to overcome barriers to quality patient care created by distance and reduce the costs of those services.

Senate Bill 1031 requires the Department of Insurance to submit an annual report detailing its spending for third-party contractors to conduct fiscal examinations of insurance companies doing business in Pennsylvania.

Community, Economic & Recreational Development

On Tuesday, the Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee held a public hearing on Senate Bill 721, pertaining to a funding mechanism for Pennsylvania tourism promotion.

Hearing Video & Written Testimony

Education

The Senate Education Committee approved three bills on Monday.

Senate Bill 776 extends the Dyslexia and Early Literacy Intervention Pilot Program.

House Bill 1305 sets a training requirement for educators who provide secondary transition services.

House Bill 1653 makes students enrolled in distance or online education programs eligible for state grants.

Environmental Resources & Energy

The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee approved four measures on Tuesday.

Senate Resolution 104 urges the Governor to end the moratorium on non-surface disturbance natural gas drilling on state forest land. 

Senate Resolution 226 requires the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to conduct an independent performance evaluation of the largest statewide environmental permitting programs administered by the Department of Environmental Protection. 

House Bill 1341 amends the Bituminous Coal Mine Safety Act to allow emergency medical responders to be employed at mines. 

House Bill 1486 exempts “high tunnels” from the requirements of the Storm Water Management Act.

Finance

The Senate Finance Committee approved three bills on Wednesday.

House Bill 291 provides for an exemption from the inheritance tax for a transfer of property to a child age 21 or younger, from a parent, adoptive parent or stepparent.

Senate Bill 370 removes future non-public employees of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association from being eligible for public pension benefits. 

Senate Bill 952 exempts volunteer fire companies from remitting sales tax on food and beverages sold for fundraising efforts. 

Judiciary

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Senate Bill 1011 on Tuesday. The bill amends the state Constitution to create a crime victims’ “Bill of Rights.”

State Government

The Senate State Government Committee approved four measures on Monday.

Senate Resolution 253 calls on Congress to amend the Gun Control Act of 1968 to protect the gun rights of medical cannabis users.

Senate Resolution 258 urges Congress to remove marijuana from Schedule I under the Controlled Substances Act.

Senate Bill 748 establishes notice guidelines regarding the proposed closure of state prisons.

Senate Bill 1034 addresses Congressional redistricting.

On Tuesday the committee held a public hearing on voting technology in Pennsylvania.

Hearing Video & Written Testimony

Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness

On Monday, the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee held a second public hearing on Senate Bill 1019, a rewrite of Title 35, the state Emergency Management Code. Hearing Video & Written Testimony

Up Next

 The Senate returns to voting session Monday at 1 p.m. You can watch session live at SenatorScottWagner.com.

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