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Senator Scott Wagner

In this Edition:

  • Wagner Clean Slate Bill Clears Judiciary Committee
  • Teacher Furlough Reform Bill Sent to Governor
  • Additional Bills Sent to Governor
  • Senate Approves Cost-Saving Legislation for Schools
  • Additional Bills Sent to the House for Consideration
  • Bills Returned to the House for Concurrence on Senate Amendments
  • Senator Killion Sworn Into Office
  • Committee Round-Up
  • Next Week

Wagner Clean Slate Bill Clears Judiciary Committee

5/10/16 - Clean Slate Legislation (Senate Bill 1197)

During a meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, I spoke regarding “Clean Slate” legislation that I introduced, along with Senator Anthony Williams and 22 additional co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle.

Senate Bill 1197 would enable individuals with low-level, nonviolent criminal records to earn a clean slate after a period of being free from conviction through the automatic sealing of records, rather than having to file individual petitions. For misdemeanors that period is 10 years, for summary offenses it is 5 years, and for juvenile delinquency it is 7 years.

This is an issue of importance to me because I have seen too many people pay their entire life for a crime they committed years ago – often a very minor crime. That mistake stays with them through background checks when they apply for a job, to rent an apartment, to go on for post-secondary education, or even to volunteer in their child’s classroom.

Such a punishment is keeping good people from achieving their full potential, which is why I am leading the effort to allow individuals to get a clean slate, where their record would still exist and be accessible by law enforcement but not be available to the public.

SB 1197 was voted out of the Judiciary Committee unanimously following the adoption of an amendment I offered to address several concerns raised since the introduction of the bill last month.

Teacher Furlough Reform Bill Sent to Governor

The Senate gave final approval Monday to legislation that would keep the best teachers in the classroom and boost student achievement by ending the practice of seniority-based layoffs.

House Bill 805, known as the Protecting Excellent Teachers Act, would strengthen the teaching profession and boost student success by ensuring that school districts use teacher performance to guide furlough and reinstatement decisions. Performance ratings would be based on the comprehensive statewide educator evaluation system adopted in 2012, under which observed educators are assigned a rating of distinguished, proficient, needs improvement or failing. House Bill 805 prohibits school districts from using a teacher’s pay and benefits as determining factors for any layoff decision.

Currently, the last teacher hired is the first person fired, regardless of job performance. Pennsylvania is one of only a few states that require seniority to be the sole factor in determining layoffs.

House Bill 805 now goes to the Governor’s desk.

Additional Bills Sent to Governor

House Bill 400 establishes the “Work Experience for High School Students with Disabilities Act.”

Senate Bill 811 provides for the Fiscal Year 2015-16 Capital Budget.

House Bill 1200 repeals part of an Act from 1903 that requires railroads under bridges or viaducts to pay maintenance fees.

House Bill 1788 clarifies circumstances in Philadelphia in which a Neighborhood Improvement District overlaps with a Tax Increment Financing district.

Senate Approves Cost-Saving Legislation for Schools

The Senate on Tuesday approved legislation I am co-sponsoring to allow school districts to save thousands of dollars in annual mailing costs.

Senate Bill 1077 eliminates a state mandate requiring school districts to annually mail notices to a student’s home address informing parents and guardians that the district uses audio and video recording on school buses, which can be utilized to identify and address discipline issues.

This mailer mandate was included as part of Act 9 of 2014, which gave school districts the ability to use audio recordings on school buses.

Instead of the physical mailing, which can easily cost thousands of dollars each year, Senate Bill 1077 calls for schools to post notice of the policy in the student handbook, as well as on the school’s website.

Senate Bill 1077 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Additional Bills Sent to the House for Consideration

Senate Bill 359 revises Pennsylvania’s truancy laws by providing new procedures to be followed when a child becomes truant and additional procedures if a child becomes habitually truant.

Senate Bill 1062 increases penalties for home invasion burglaries.

Senate Bill 1144 prohibits the sale of over-the-counter cough medicines containing dextromethorphan to minors.

Senate Bill 1156 requires health care personnel and clergy to obtain background checks.

Senate Bill 1229 corrects technical issues related to the distribution of Pennsylvania Breeding Funds.

Bills Returned to the House for Concurrence on Senate Amendments

House Bill 944 amends the Community and Economic Improvement Act to improve the management of neighborhood improvement districts in Philadelphia.

House Bill 1310 provides privacy and protects the safety of individuals who call 911 to report crimes.

House Bill 1574 updates the Anti-hazing Law to include hazing done as a condition for initiation or admission into any organization.

Senator Killion Sworn Into Office

Senator Tom Killion was sworn into office on Wednesday during a ceremony in the Senate Chamber. He was elected to the Senate on April 26 under a special election to represent the citizens of the 9th Senatorial District, which includes portions of Chester and Delaware counties.

Prior to joining the Senate, he served as a State Representative for the 168th Legislative District and was Chairman of the Delaware County Council. He also founded two local small businesses.

The Senate returned to its full complement of 50 members: 31 Republicans and 19 Democrats.

Committee Round-Up

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

Appropriations Committee

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved the following bills this week:

Senate Bill 691 increases a retailer’s presumptive minimum cost of administering the cigarette tax.

Senate Bill 837 ensures only those with a professional license are permitted to represent themselves as a marriage and family therapist in Pennsylvania.

Senate Bill 1052 requires the Pennsylvania Department of State to develop a secure online system for military-overseas voters to return their absentee ballot electronically.

House Bill 602 increases the active duty pay for National Guard personnel from $75 to $100 per day.

House Bill 944 amends the Community and Economic Improvement Act to improve the management of neighborhood improvement districts in Philadelphia.

House Bill 1552 requires the Secretary of Education to enter into an interstate reciprocity agreement governing higher education distance education programs.

Labor and Industry Committee

The Senate Labor and Industry Committee approved the following bill Tuesday:

Senate Bill 876 ensures the solvency of the Uninsured Employers Guarantee Fund, which covers injuries to workers whose employers failed to carry required Workers' Compensation insurance.

Transportation Committee

The Senate Transportation Committee on Tuesday considered bills and held a public hearing regarding the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission budget and priorities, as well as a review of action taken in response to the closure of a portion of the roadway during Winter Storm Jonas in January.

Additionally, the following bills were approved:

Senate Bill 535 permits local police to use radar to enforce speed limits.

Senate Bill 559 permits local police to use radar and LIDAR laser light devices to enforce speed limits and restricts the amount of revenue a municipality can receive as a result.

Senate Bill 1216 designates the bridge carrying State Route 3087 connecting Scottdale, Westmoreland County, and Everson, Fayette County, as the Private First Class Joseph Anthony Petrarca/Staff Sergeant John William Earnesty Memorial Bridge.

Senate Bill1217 designates a portion of State Route 523 in Somerset County as the Private First Class Nils G. Thompson Memorial Highway.

You can view the meeting and hearing, and access written testimony here.

Next Week

The Senate reconvenes Monday, May 16 at 1 p.m. You can watch session live at my website.

Also on Monday, at 9:30am the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Infrastructure, Environment, & Government Operation, which I serve on, will hold a hearing with the Office of Administration regarding technology investments. Watch live at pasenategop.com.

You can find the full schedule of Senate committee activity here.

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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