In this Edition:
Governor’s Budget Proposes to Grow State Government by more than 3 Percent Next Fiscal Year
Before a joint session of the House of Representatives and Senate of Pennsylvania on Tuesday, Governor Wolf proposed a $33.2 billion state budget for Fiscal Year 2018-19.
The governor’s budget proposal represents an increase of $1.2 billion, or 3.7 percent, from the current fiscal year. Nearly 90 percent of the state budget goes towards education, human services and corrections.
You can see the breakdown of the governor’s proposed spending below:
When Governor Wolf proposed his first state budget for Fiscal Year 2015-16, he requested $29.884 billion in spending, an increase of 2.7 percent from the prior Fiscal Year.
His latest budget proposal is $3.316 billion more in state spending from his first budget proposal three years ago.
As I have said all along: your state government does not have a revenue problem – it has a spending and mismanagement problem.
Last year, I sounded the alarm about the monster that is state government. Every year, the monster is hungrier and hungrier. This governor wants to keep feeding the state government monster an additional $1.2 billion.
This is why I will keep pushing for commonsense solutions, like zero-based budgeting, which requires each agency to start at $0 and justify every dollar it intends to spend. Many families across the state budget this way around their kitchen tables. It is time for state government to do the same.
Fortunately for taxpayers, the Senate Appropriations Committee will hold a three week series of budget hearings with state agencies and departments beginning on Tuesday, February 20. I look forward to the hearings, which will shed greater light on the governor’s spending increases.
The state’s current fiscal year ends on June 30. To view the upcoming budget hearing schedule, please visit my website.
Bill Increasing Government Transparency Sent to Governor
Legislation increasing government transparency and cracking down on violations of the state Lobbying Disclosure Act received final legislative approval this week and was sent to the governor for enactment into law.
House Bill 1175 increases the maximum penalty imposed by the Ethics Commission for violations of the Lobbying Disclosure Act from $2,000 to $4,000. The bill increases the maximum administrative penalty for negligent failure to report from a flat $50 per-day to a tiered structure of $50 per-day for the first 10 days, $100 per-day for days 11 – 20 and $200 per-day after 20 days.
The bill improves the current electronic filing system for lobbyists by requiring all filings to be posted on the Department of State’s publicly accessible website within seven days of receipt.
Other Bills Sent to Governor for Enactment
Senate Bill 354 strengthens licensee reporting requirements to the Department of State.
House Bill 359 addresses penalties for hunters who mistakenly kill an animal.
Senate Bill 894 renames roads and bridges.
House Bill 1602 renames several bridges.
Senate Approves Measure Addressing Sex Offender Court Ruling
The Senate approved legislation this week addressing two state Supreme Court rulings that – if not corrected – could require more than 10,000 sexual offenders to be removed from the state sexual offender registry.
The Supreme Court ruled in Commonwealth v. Muniz that the state’s updated sexual offender registration statute, the Adam Walsh Act of 2012, could not be applied to defendants who committed their crimes before December 20, 2012, the effective date of the Act, based on both the U.S. Constitution and the Pennsylvania Constitution.
Additionally, in Commonwealth vs. Butler, the Supreme Court reasoned that designating a sexual offender as a Sexually Violent Predator constituted an additional punishment and therefore, also violated both the U.S. and PA Constitutions.
Both of these issues are addressed in House Bill 631, which establishes two sections for registration requirements within the law. Those whose crimes were committed prior to December 20, 2012, will be required to register under one section, encompassing the old Megan’s Law. Those who committed crimes after that date, will be required to register under the second section, the new Adam Walsh Act. The legislation also allows offenders whose offenses occurred before the Adam Walsh Act to petition the court for relief from registration requirements after 25 years.
Following passage in the Senate, the House concurred in Senate amendments, so the bill will soon be sent to the Governor for his signature.
Other Bills Approved by the Senate and Sent to House of Representatives
Senate Bill 21 promotes the employment of people with disabilities.
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.
Senate Resolution 253 calls on Congress to amend the Gun Control Act of 1968 to protect the gun rights of medical cannabis users.
Senate Bill 796 exempts CDL licensees from the change of address fees if they have not actually moved from their home and the change of address is due to a governmental action beyond their control.
Senate Bill 955 establishes a pilot program providing grants to community colleges to partner with secondary schools to train students in fire services.
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved House Bill 1952 on Monday. The bill addresses a state Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision that impacts Pennsylvania’s sexual offender registration act. Language from House Bill 1952 was amended into House Bill 631, which is discussed above.
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