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Below is a recap of this week’s legislative activity in the Senate, along with information on legislation I am drafting to privatize liquor sales in Pennsylvania.
I always welcome your feedback and input. Please don’t hesitate to contact me via my website.
Scott R. Wagner
In this Edition:
I am currently seeking co-sponsors of legislation I am drafting to finally get Pennsylvania state government out of the liquor business.
Private enterprise always does a better job selling a product than government, and the PLCB is facing financial trouble. Predictions have the PLCB State Store Fund losing money with an estimated loss of $125 million in FY 2019-2020. We cannot sit back and hope that does not happen.
My legislation will include the following:
Under my proposal there would be no new licenses created and no changes to the sale of beer. The Commonwealth loses hundreds of millions of dollars a year in sales to neighboring states when residents cross borders for more convenient locations and better selections. The bottom line is, we need pro-consumer legislation to get Pennsylvania out of the spirits and wine business and make it like the beer business.
Thank you to our local papers for the coverage on my liquor proposal.
- York Dispatch: Wagner to propose liquor privatization bill
- York Daily Record: Sen. Scott Wagner's liquor privatization proposal sounds good
The Senate approved legislation imposing penalties on those who falsely wear military awards and decorations.
Senate Bill 43 would prohibit a person from falsely representing oneself as having received a medal or decoration authorized by Congress for the Armed Forces of the United States. In order to be culpable, the person must have the intent to use the false representations to commit fraud, obtain employment or be appointed to public office.
A person who violates the Act would be guilty of committing a third-degree misdemeanor. Enhanced penalties would be available if a person falsely wears a Congressional Medal of Honor, Navy Cross, Air Force Cross, Silver Star or Purple Heart. The bill was sent to the House of Representatives.
Senate Bill 333 provides for state preemption of local mandated leave ordinances. Such ordinances place an undue burden on employers doing business in multiple municipalities with differing leave policies. I am a co-sponsor of this bill.
Senate Bill 61 officially recognizes bike medics and permits them to operate their bicycles in the same manner as a police officer on a bicycle.
House Bill 152 amends the Emergency and Law Enforcement Personnel Death Benefit Act by extending the filing period for the death benefit. This bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.
Senate Bill 485 increases the criminal grading for impersonating a medical doctor and providing medical treatment from a second-degree misdemeanor to a first-degree misdemeanor.
Public pension reform is a top issue for me this year. The unfunded liabilities of the State Employees Retirement System and the Public School Employees Retirement System pose one of the greatest budgetary challenges in a generation. Underfunding in previous years, combined with the recession’s impact on pension fund investments, have caused skyrocketing pension payments for the state and school districts.
The Senate Finance Committee heard several plans to address the crisis during a Wednesday public hearing on “Proposals to Change the Design of Public Pensions.” You can view the hearing and read testimony here.
A recap of activity by the Senate committees I serve on.
The Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee, which I chair, approved four bills on Wednesday:
Senate Bill 330 gives municipalities the ability to address dilapidated properties sooner than they now can.
Senate Bill 482 allows counties to apply a fee on the final sale price of a property sold at a judicial sale to raise funds for the demolition of blighted properties and rehabilitation.
Senate Bill 486 allows county Recorder of Deeds offices to apply a fee of up to $15 on each deed and mortgage recorded to be fund the demolition of blighted properties.
Senate Bill 566 provides funding for the PA Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund (PHARE).
The Senate Appropriations Committee approved four bills on Monday:
House Bill 152 amends the Emergency and Law Enforcement Personnel Death Benefits Act to extend the filing period for the death benefit from 90 days to 3-years, which will put the state’s filing period in line with the federal law.
House Bill 159 authorizes a reciprocal insurance exchange that writes medical liability insurance to convert to a stock insurance company.
Senate Bill 487 prohibits healthcare plans from imposing multiple copayments for licensed physical therapy, chiropractic and occupational therapy.
Senate Bill 494 repeals an outdated requirement that the General Assembly be furnished with a print copy of an annual report required under the Flood Insurance Education and Information Act of 1996. The report is available online.
The Senate returns to voting session on Monday. You can watch session live at SenatorWagner.com.
On Tuesday at 9:30 a.m., the Senate Transportation Committee will hold a public hearing on the nominations of Leslie Richards as Secretary of Transportation and William Lieberman for PA Turnpike Commissioner.
At 10 a.m. on Tuesday, the Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee, which I chair, will hold a joint hearing with House Urban Affairs Committee to hear the Community Association Institute present an overview of Title 68 covering condominiums, cooperatives and planned communities.
On Wednesday at 9:30 a.m., the Public Health and Welfare Committee will hold a public hearing on the nomination of Theodore Dallas as Secretary of Human Services.