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Senator Scott Wagner

 

In this Edition:

  • Senate Approves Paycheck Protection Legislation
  • Joint Hearing on Assessing State Government Spending
  • Senate Passes Legislation to Establish Fund for ATV Activities
  • Other Bills Approved by the Senate and Sent to the House
  • Four Bills Sent to Governor’s Desk for Enactment into Law
  • Study to Evaluate Public-Private Partnerships for Veterans’ Care
  • Committee Round-Up
  • Next Week
  • Stay Connected

Senate Approves Paycheck Protection Legislation

The Senate on Wednesday passed legislation to keep taxpayer resources from being used to collect political contributions for public sector unions.

Senate Bill 501, which I co-sponsored, continues to allow public-sector unions to collect membership dues from their members via paycheck deductions. SB 501 also allows for the collection of non-members’ “Fair Share” amount. However, under this legislation unions would have to solicit political dollars directly from their members.

While this issue has been termed "paycheck protection" and many have argued the cost of deductions is minimal, my main reason for advocating for this bill is that taxpayer dollars should not be used to collect money for the public sector unions, which in turn use the money for political purposes.

As stated above, we are still allowing the unions to collect dues using taxpayer resources, so this has nothing to do with the cost. It is the ethical principle of the issue.

My legislative office cannot legally do any form of political/campaign work, regardless of the cost to make a phone call on a Senate phone or to send an email on a Senate computer. So, why do we allow political money to be collected by our school districts and state agencies that they then have to remit to the unions?

While I had a number of private sector union members advocating against SB 501, it is important to note that this legislation only applies to public-sector unions, such as the PSEA (school teachers) and SEIU (certain state employees).

Joint Hearing on Assessing State Government Spending

On Wednesday, the Senate State Government Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, led by Senator Mike Folmer and Senator John Eichelberger, respectively, convened a joint hearing on state spending. More specifically, they explored ways to spend more efficiently and assess the spending that we currently do.

Testimony was provided by Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Legislative Budget and Finance Committee, Philip Durgen, and Inspector General Grayling Williams.

While I am not a member of either committee, this topic is of great interest to me. Since coming to the Senate, I have been focused on the need for reducing costs within our state government and assuring accountability of the money we already spend. I continue to drive home this point during the current budget impasse as Governor Wolf insists on increasing taxes and spending by $4.7 billion, so I commend the committees for holding this hearing, and I encourage you to watch the video available online.

Senate Passes Legislation to Establish Fund for ATV Activities

The Senate approved legislation Tuesday that would ensure that funds received through the registration, certification and enforcement of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) in Pennsylvania are used specifically to support ATV activities.

Senate Bill 648 requires that monies generated through ATV-related operations are placed in a restricted account to be used for a variety of purposes including the construction and maintenance of ATV trails and acquisition of equipment, supplies and interests in land.

Currently, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources does not separate expenditures related to ATV and snowmobile operations. As a result, these funds are being disproportionately allocated between user groups. While ATV operations contribute $1.4 million of the $1.6 million in the current fund, 80 percent of the total funding is allocated to expansion of snowmobile trails.

Other Bills Approved by the Senate and Sent to the House

House Bill 239 amends the County Pension Law to further provide for definitions and cost of living adjustments.

Senate Bill 296 increases the penalties for making false reports to public safety agencies to address “Swatting.” Swatting involves making a fake 911 emergency call in order to draw a response from law enforcement, usually a SWAT team, or emergency service personnel.

Senate Bill 748 eliminates the mandatory escort of super-sized loads by the Pennsylvania State Police and replaces them with certified pilot escorts. Since the Senate concurred Wednesday on House amendments as further amended in the Senate Rules and Executive Nominations Committee on Tuesday, the bill returns to the House for a concurrence vote.

Senate Bill 772 updates the state Professional Psychologists Practice Act for the first time since 1986.

Senate Bill 791 amends the Second Class Township Code further providing for removal of elected township officers for failure to perform duties.

Four Bills Sent to Governor’s Desk for Enactment into Law

The Senate sent four bills to the Governor on Wednesday for his signature.

 

House Bill 904 amends the First Class Township Code to further provide for property maintenance codes, reserved powers, and the Uniform Construction Code.

House Bill 906 amends the First Class Township Code further providing for removal of elected township officers for failure to perform duties.

House Bill 910 amends Act 35 of 1953, pertaining to incorporated towns, regarding the removal of elected officers for failure to perform duties.

Senate Bill 925 updates the qualification standards for the commercial driver learner’s permit and the commercial driver’s license.

Study to Evaluate Public-Private Partnerships for Veterans’ Care

The Senate adopted a Resolution on Tuesday to study options to provide additional care for veterans.

Senate Resolution 171 directs the Pennsylvania Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to study the potential cost-savings and effectiveness of allowing the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to partner with the private sector to provide additional care for veterans.

The study will determine how many veterans are on waiting lists for placement in state-owned veterans’ homes, the average cost-per-day for care of a veteran at a state-owned facility compared to a private health care facility, and the projected number of veterans who will require care over the next 10 years in Pennsylvania.

Committee Round-Up

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

Appropriations Committee

Senate Bill 482 allows counties to place a fee on the final sale price of a property sold at a judicial sale to pay for the rehabilitation of blighted properties.

House Bill 239 amends the County Pension Law to further provide for definitions and cost of living adjustments.

House Bill 792 amends the Housing Finance Agency Law to provide additional funding for the PA Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement (PHARE) Fund.

Next Week

The Senate returns to session on Monday You can watch session live at my website.


Stay Connected

I welcome your feedback and input. Please don’t hesitate to contact me via my website.

You can also find me on Twitter at @SenScottWagner as well as on Facebook.
 

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