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In this Edition:
Public Employee Contract Negotiation Transparency Bill Sent to Governor
Continuing efforts to increase accountability and transparency of state government activities, the Senate gave final approval on Wednesday to a measure I co-sponsored that will give the public greater access to contract negotiations involving government and public employees.
Senate Bill 644 now goes to the Governor’s desk. The bill requires the Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) to complete a cost analysis of proposed collective bargaining agreements under the Governor’s jurisdiction prior to the execution of those contracts.
Under this measure, the Governor would be required to give the IFO advance notice of pending contracts so the agency could determine the costs to cover public employee wages, benefits, pensions, and working conditions under the proposed agreement. This will ensure that the public knows how the full costs of these labor agreements would impact the Commonwealth. It is also vital information that we in the General Assembly need to develop a balanced state budget.
Two other bills received final legislative approval this week and were sent to the Governor.
Senate Bill 526 amends the Second Class Township Code regarding completion and publication of the annual township report and financial statement. The measure allows second class townships to publish more concise financial information which will reduce advertising expenses.
House Bill 1340 amends Title 68 (Real and Personal Property) with technical clarifications to the Uniform Planned Community Act and the Uniform Condominium Act. ulate who can call themselves a state-licensed plumbing contractor.
Equitable Tourism Funding Bill Awaits Final Passage
Legislation that I have been advocating for to boost York County tourism dollars is on the verge of final passage in the Senate.
On Tuesday, the Senate Appropriations Committee, which I serve on, overwhelmingly approved Rep. Keith Gillespie’s House Bill 794, which increases the maximum hotel room rental tax permitted in most Third through Eighth Class counties from 3 percent to 5 percent to fund tourism development. The legislation simply authorizes counties to increase their respective tax, it does not actually increase any taxes.
I have been working with the York County Convention and Visitors Bureau on this effort since coming to Harrisburg because current law has carved out exceptions for neighboring counties and has put York County at a disadvantage. As it stands, York County cannot charge more than a 3% hotel tax while Dauphin, Adams, and Lancaster counties all are allowed to – and do – have a 5% hotel tax.
The revenue generated through visitors’ hotel stays goes towards tourism efforts, essentially, drawing in more visitors to again stay at our hotels, frequent our restaurants, and overall, support our local economy.
House Bill 794 was amended both on Tuesday and Wednesday and now awaits final passage.
Subcommittee Hearing Focuses on Charter and Cyber Charter School Funding
The new Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education, Workforce, Community and Economic Development held its first hearing on Monday.
The hearing focused on:
Watch the hearing and find more information here.
Bills Approved, Sent to the House for Consideration
Senate Bill 374 allows the Game Commission to establish time frames for the tagging and reporting of big game harvests.
Senate Bill 579 consolidates several statutes into Title 44 (Law and Justice Code) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes.
Senate Bill 847 adds a representative from the Korean War Veterans Association to the State Veterans Commission, a panel comprised of representatives from Pennsylvania’s major veterans associations.
Senate Bill 881 amends the definition of “public utility” in state statute to provide an exception for a resort offering water or sewer services to private homes who take service at a point within the property boundaries of the resort.
Senate Bill 973 increases fines for littering.
Senate Bill 1104 implements changes from a June 2010 report issued by the Joint State Government Commission entitled, “The Probate, Estates and Fiduciaries Code: Proposed Amendments to Title 20 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes.”
A recap of activity by the Senate committees I serve on.
The Senate Appropriations Committee approved the following bills on Tuesday:
Senate Bill 910 implements the school funding formula recommended by the Basic Education Funding Commission.
Senate Bill 1031 allows for the appointment of independent counsel to investigate alleged wrongdoing by an Attorney General, employees of the Office of Attorney General, or chairs and treasurers of political campaigns of the Attorney General.
Senate Bill 1155 establishes a special registration plate for active members of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Senate Bill 1156 requires health care personnel and clergy to obtain criminal background checks to protect children.
House Bill 794 increases the maximum hotel room rental tax permitted in most Third through Eighth Class counties from 3 percent to 5 percent to fund tourism development.
House Bill 1329 establishes the Caregiver Advise, Record, and Enable (CARE) Act which requires hospitals to allow patients to designate a caregiver prior to discharge from the facility.
The Senate reconvenes Monday, April 11 at 1 p.m. You can watch session live at my website.
Monday at 11am: The Appropriations Subcommittee on Public Safety and Criminal Justice will hold a hearing with the Department of Corrections and the Board of Probation and Parole.
Tuesday at 9am: The Senate Education Committee will hold a joint hearing with the House Education Committee on the Every Student Succeeds Act
I welcome your feedback and input. Please don’t hesitate to contact me via my website.