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Wagner Co-Sponsors Zero-Based Budget Legislation
Senator Bob Mensch is currently circulating a co-sponsorship memo to implement “zero-based budgeting” for the Commonwealth. This type of budgeting is standard-practice in the private sector, and there is no reason we should not be doing the same with your tax dollars.
Zero-based budgeting would require each state department and agency to justify every single dollar they intend to spend for each program, starting with dollar one. Currently, agencies assume appropriations equal to the current year’s and request additional money as necessary. Under a zero-based budgeting proposal, agencies will be required to assume a budget of zero at the beginning of every fiscal year, and justify every dollar requested.
I also recently agreed to co-sponsor a proposal to make it a crime to possess multiple Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) Cards. This is an attempt to cut down on welfare fraud and is directed at drug dealers who accept these as payment or retailers who exchange them for cash.
Senate Approves Bill to Reduce the Size of the State House
The Senate approved a bill on Wednesday to reduce the size of the state House of Representatives.
House Bill 153 would reduce the number of seats in the House from 203 to 151, with each district representing approximately 84,500 constituents. Currently, each representative is responsible for serving approximately 62,000 residents.
The proposed change requires an amendment to the state Constitution, which means the same bill must be debated and passed by both the House and Senate in two consecutive sessions, and subsequently approved by referendum vote of the people of Pennsylvania.
Similar legislation reducing both legislative chambers was recently approved by the Senate State Government Committee. Senate Bill 488 would reduce the Senate to 45 districts and the House of Representatives to 153 districts.
Special Committee on Senate Address Issues Recommendations
The Special Committee on Senate Address issued its recommendations Wednesday to the full Senate on whether the chamber should proceed to vote on the removal of Attorney General Kathleen Kane due to the suspension of her law license.
The Committee recommended:
The Special Committee on Senate Address was charged with determining whether Kathleen Kane can fulfill the legal duties of the office with an indefinitely suspended law license. A complete history of the Committee’s work, including all votes, reports, testimony, and hearing videos can be accessed at www.senateaddress.pasen.gov
Bills Eliminating Obsolete Measures Sent to Governor
Two bills to remove outdated provisions from state law received final legislative approval this week and were sent to the Governor for his signature and enactment.
Senate Bill 494 repeals a requirement that the General Assembly be furnished with a printed copy of an annual report required under the Flood Insurance Education and Information Act of 1996. The written report is not needed since that information and other flood-related insurance data are available online at the Department of Insurance website.
House Bill 1201 repeals Act 131 of 1943, which authorized the Department of Highways or municipalities to adopt and take over public roads and highways constructed by the federal government in the exercise of war power. That law is archaic because the federal government no longer builds World War II roads.
A recap of activity by the Senate committees I serve on.
The Senate Appropriations Committee met Tuesday and approved:
Senate Bill 50 permits the cultivation and processing of industrial hemp in Pennsylvania.
Senate Bill 889 extends benefits under the enforcement Officer Disability Benefits Law to enforcement officers and investigators of both the PA Game Commission and the PA Fish & Boat Commission.
House Bill 153 amends the Constitution of the Commonwealth to reduce the size of the House of Representatives
The Senate Transportation Committee held a public hearing Wednesday on safety concerns regarding snow and ice on moving vehicles.
Testifiers included those from State Police, PennDOT, AAA and the Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association. The committee also heard from the family of Christine Lambert, who died when struck by ice dislodged from a truck.
The committee discussed legislative proposals to require all motorists driving in Pennsylvania to clear snow and ice from the top of their vehicles before driving. The measures would allow law enforcement officers to fine motorists who fail to do so.
You can view hearing video and testimony here.
The Senate returns to voting session on Monday, February 8. You can watch session live at my website.
I welcome your feedback and input. Please don’t hesitate to contact me via my website.