View in browser

Senator Scott Wagner

Week of June 27, 2016

In this Edition:

  • Budget Negotiations Continue - Wagner Opposes New Spending, Tax Increases
  • Wagner Welcomes Summer Intern to the Senate
  • Senate Confirms Nominees to York County Court Of Common Pleas
  • Senate Passes Watered Down Bill on Child Abuse Statute of Limitations
  • Senate Approves Wagner Bill to Curtail Excessive Deed Recording Fees
  • Legislation Extending Fire & EMS Grant Program Sent to Governor
  • Other Bills Sent to Governor
  • Senate Approves Bill to Ease Substitute Teacher Shortage
  • Other Bills Approved by the Senate and Sent to the House of Representatives
  • Senate Confirms State Adjutant General
  • Committee Roundup
  • Up Next

Budget Negotiations Continue
Wagner Opposes New Spending, Tax Increases

The General Assembly voted last week for a budget that will increase spending by 4.7 percent -- or $1.406 billion dollars more than last year’s budget. I voted against this measure because it continues the status quo of increasing spending instead of reducing costs and bringing accountability to your tax dollars.

I will also oppose the tax increases needed to pay for it when that measure comes up for a vote. Not surprisingly, House and Senate leadership are having a difficult time finding the means to pay for everything.

Much of the support for this spending plan , Senate Bill 1073, seems to rest on the assumption that it drives new dollars into K-12 education, which is currently funded at the highest levels in state history. However, of the $673 million in new education funding, $345 million will be lost to increased pension payments and I estimate that $337.5 million will go to teacher raises (based on an average 2.5 percent pay increases. That means the increased spending – and the tax hikes needed to fund it – will actually result in $9.5 million less going to classrooms.

At this point, the House and Senate are recessed to the Call of the Chair, meaning, when a spending plan is ready to be voted on we will be called back into session to vote. Meanwhile, I will continue to call attention to the many ways we can reduce spending.

Wagner Welcomes Summer Intern to the Senate

Senator Wagner welcomed summer intern, Michael Hogg of York, to the Senate and introduced him on the Senate floor. Michael is a 2013 graduate of York Suburban High School, and following his summer in Harrisburg, he will begin his senior year at Colgate University in Hamilton, NY where he is majoring in Political Science and minoring in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies.  

Senate Confirms Nominees to York County Court Of Common Pleas

wagner-062916-judges

During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday morning, Senator Wagner introduced both Fawcett and Prendergast, reflecting on the many years he has known both women and sharing highlights of their careers.

On Wednesday, the Senate confirmed several judicial nominees including Christy Fawcett and Kathleen Prendergast, who have been appointed to serve on the York County Court of Common Pleas.

York County has been without a full complement of judges on the Court of Common Pleas for far too long. I am pleased with the prompt action taken by Senate Leadership to advance these nominees through the confirmation process. I recommended Kathleen Prendergast to Governor Wolf for consideration in November.

Christy Fawcett is an Assistant United States Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. She is also Chief of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Unit.

Kathleen Prendergast has been practicing law in the York community for more than 20 years, specializing in family law. She serves as a county-appointed lawyer for children and parents involved in child abuse cases.

I am very confident that both of these women have the experience needed to step in and quickly fill the void on the York County Court of Common Pleas.

Senate Passes Watered Down Bill on Child Abuse Statute of Limitations

The Senate unanimously approved a bill overhauling the criminal and civil statute of limitations for child sex abuse, following my unsuccessful attempt to revert to the House version of the bill containing a retroactive provision.

That provision, sought by advocates for years, would have allowed adult victims of decades-old child sex abuse to sue for damages after the statute of limitations has expired. The Senate Judiciary Committee stripped that language from the bill amid complaints it would violate the state constitution.

The Senate-passed version of House Bill 1947 eliminates the age limit for when individuals could file civil lawsuits against another individual, co-conspirator, or anyone who failed to report the crime. The language also increases the cap for filing a lawsuit against an organization from age 30 to age 50. Additionally, it makes it easier to sue public institutions by lowering the bar from gross negligence to “negligence.”

Like the House version, the bill eliminates the statute of limitations for child sex abuse criminal charges. Current law says a prosecutor can bring criminal charges against an alleged perpetrator only until the victim is 50 years old.

Bills Sent to Governor for Enactment

House Bill 602 increases the active duty pay for National Guard personnel from $75 to $100 per day. The National Guard base pay was last increased in 1996, from $45 to the current rate of $75 per day.

Senate Bill 936 provides for a one-time fee of $50 to cover the employer’s costs in setting up the wage garnishment to comply with the enforcement of a child support order.

Senate Bill 1270 amends the Real Estate Appraisers Certification Act to bring Pennsylvania into compliance with updated Federal appraiser standards.

House Bill 1325 gives second class townships the authority to implement storm water management ordinances and to assess a fee to fund the planning, management, implementation, construction and maintenance of storm water facilities.

House Bill 1766 allows future life insurance policy reserves to be based on Principle-Based Reserving, a methodology that is more advanced and better reflects the risks of new innovative insurance policies.

Senate Approves Wagner Bill to Curtail Excessive Deed Recording Fees

The Senate this week passed legislation I sponsored, Senate Bill 1282 , to clarify the manner in which a county Recorder of Deeds Office may charge fees for the recording of amendments to declarations of condominiums, cooperatives and planned communities.

Current statutory law requires that any amendment to a declaration be recorded in every county where the community association is located. The amendment is only required to be indexed in the name of the association in both the grantor and grantee index.

However, many counties have begun charging fees based upon every unit and unit owner (per parcel) in a condominium, cooperative or planned community. These fees assessed bear no reasonable relationship to the amount of work involved to perform this service.

Examples of these excessive recording fees are becoming ever more prevalent in counties across the Commonwealth. A 560-unit condominium association in Pennsylvania prepared a three page amendment to its Code of Regulations. The cost to the association to record its three page amendment was $5,738.00. In 2016, this same county raised it’s per parcel indexing fee from $10.00 to $15.00. Under the 2016 recording fee structure, that condominium association would pay a recording fee of at least $8,400.

This is a practice that needs to be stopped, and this bill will do exactly that. This is a bi-partisan issue, as Representative Caltagirone has introduced similar legislation House Bill 1101, in the House of Representatives.

Legislation Extending Fire & EMS Grant Program Sent to Governor

A bill reauthorizing a popular Fire/EMS grant program for four years received final legislative approval and was sent to the Governor for his signature and enactment into law.

Under House Bill 1877, the Fire and Emergency Medical Services grant program is reauthorized to continue for an additional four years until June 30, 2020. The program receives $30 million in total funding with $25 million from the State Gaming Fund and $5 million from the Property Tax Relief Fund.

The bill would for the first time allow “career emergency medical services” to apply for grants under certain conditions. Currently, all fire companies, volunteer ambulance services and volunteer rescue squads are eligible for grant funding. The grants may be used for construction or renovation of a unit’s station, the purchase or repair of equipment, training or debt reduction. The maximum grant amount is $15,000 for fire companies and $10,000 for ambulance services.

Other Bills Sent to Governor

House Bill 59 requires that all individuals born between 1945 and 1965 be offered a hepatitis C screening or diagnostic test when treated at hospitals, health care facilities, or physicians’ offices.

House Bill 60 addresses the cost disparity between intravenous and oral chemotherapy treatments.

House Bill 64 requires licensed psychologists, social workers, marriage and family therapists and professional counselors to complete at least one hour of continuing education in suicide prevention.

House Bill 898 designates Philadelphia Prison System prisoner transport units and emergency response vehicles operated by the PA Turnpike as emergency vehicles, permitting them to utilize flashing lights and sirens.

Senate Bill 917 allows for the sharing of county agency, juvenile probation, drug and alcohol, mental health, and education records in certain cases involving juveniles.

House Bill 1062 amends the Human Services Code to phase out the county share, extend the nursing facility budget adjustment factor, extend certain assessments, extend the Medical Assistance (MA) day-one incentive payment, extend child welfare provider submissions, suspend MA coverage for incarcerated individuals, eliminate the requirement of solely dedicated assisted living licensure staff, and move the eHealth Partnership Authority to the Department of Human Services.

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.”

Senate Bill 1123 corrects a regulatory issue relating to gasoline in Pennsylvania.

House Bill 1167 adds a new section to the Crime Victims Act concerning a state income tax intercept. It requires the Department of Revenue to deduct court-ordered obligations owed by a taxpayer from any tax refund due the taxpayer, notify the taxpayer that the deduction has been made, and pay any amount remaining to the taxpayer.

Senate Bill 1194 removes the sunset date of June 30, 2016 from the “State Military College Legislative Appointment Initiative.” Act 29 of 2012 allows members of the General Assembly to appoint annually an eligible student from their legislative districts.

House Bill 1335 removes the requirement in state law that the Turnpike Commission must install and maintain emergency telephones every two miles on both sides of the Turnpike.

House Bill 1871 amends the state Constitution to permit Philadelphia to impose varying tax rates on real estate based on use.

Senate Approves Bill to Ease Substitute Teacher Shortage

The Senate passed legislation on Thursday that would address the growing problem of the shortage of substitute teachers available for school districts.

Some school districts have been reporting vacancy ‘fill’ rates of only 70 percent on any given day, and some areas have opted to outsource their substitutes or have been left with no choice but to request frequent emergency permits for day-to-day substitutes, which interrupts the learning process and cuts into instructional time.

Senate Bill 1312 allows college students who have completed 60 credit hours and who are enrolled in a teacher preparation program at a four-year college in Pennsylvania to substitute for a limited number of days in any school district in the Commonwealth.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Other Bills Approved by the Senate and Sent to the House of Representatives

Senate Bill 141 amends the Real Estate Seller Disclosure Law to require disclosure of a property's flood history.

Senate Bill 289 authorizes, but does not require, a municipality or municipal authority to use public funds for the improvement, extension, repair or rehabilitation of private lateral sewer lines connected to sewage disposal systems.

Senate Bill 613 gives each of Pennsylvania’s counties the opportunity to participate in the Human Services Development Block Grant by removing the statutory limit.

Senate Bill 666 amends the Uniform Planned Community Act to provide more transparency for homeowner’s associations.

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

Senate Bill 703 enacts the Plumbing Contractor Licensure Act by establishing the State Board of Plumbing Contractors within the Department of Labor and Industry.

House Bill 871 allows for the de-titling of vehicles which are recycled by a scrap metal processor. The bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.

House Bill 967 establishes an agricultural pilot program for industrial hemp research. The bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.

Senate Bill 1018 makes several changes to the CPA Law.

Senate Bill 1221 reforms the Pittsburgh Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority.

Senate Bill 1226 would streamline and improve the Pennsylvania Veterans Trust Fund and ensure that it continues to provide assistance to those who have served in uniform.

Senate Bill 1265 gives employers the option to pay an employees' wages in the form of a debit card.

Senate Bill 1267 enhances the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s Municipal Signal Partnership Program known as Green Light-Go.

Senate Bill 1282 clarifies the manner in which a county Recorder of Deeds Office may charge fees for the recording of amendments to declarations of condominiums, cooperatives and planned communities.

Senate Bill 1311 brings Pennsylvania into compliance with federal requirements under the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act by addressing parents who have committed child sexual abuse and the treatment of children victimized by human trafficking.

Senate Confirms State Adjutant General

The Senate confirmed Brigadier General Anthony Carrelli as Adjutant General of the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs on Wednesday.

In this cabinet-level position with the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, headquartered at Fort Indiantown Gap, Brig. Gen. Carrelli is responsible for command, control and supervision of National Guard units – Army and Air – allocated to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, six state-owned veterans’ homes and programs for Pennsylvania’s approximately 916,000 veterans.

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 535 permits all municipal police to utilize radar for speed enforcement.

Senate Bill 717 modifies the title for certified registered nurse practitioner to Advanced Practiced Registered Nurse-Certified Nurse Practitioner (APRN-CNP) and changes the current state certification to a license.

House Bill 1062 repeals the requirement that county nursing homes pay 10 percent of the nonfederal share of the cost of services for Medicaid recipients.

Senate Bill 1320 the 2016-17 Fiscal Code.

House Bill 1605 establishes the Heritage Area Program Act.

House Bill 1871 amends the Pennsylvania Constitution to allow the city of the first class to impose varying tax rates on real estate based on real estate use.

House Bill 1947 overhauls the criminal and civil statute of limitations for child sex abuse.

Senate Bill 1312 permits prospective teachers to substitute teach under certain circumstances.

House Bill 2175 Office of Small Business Advocate funding for FY 2016-17.

House Bill 2176 State Employees’ Retirement System funding for FY 2016-17.

House Bill 2177 Office of Consumer Advocate funding for FY 2016-17.

House Bill 2178 Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board funding for FY 2016-17.

House Bill 2179 Workers’ Compensation Act and Occupation Disease Act funding for FY 2016-17.

House Bill 2180 Philadelphia Parking Authority funding for FY 2016-17.

House Bill 2182 Public School Employees’ Retirement System funding for FY 2016-17.

House Bill 2183 Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs funding, including many of the professional licensure boards, for FY 2016-17.

House Bill 2184 Public Utility Commission funding for FY 2016-17.

Transportation Committee

6/27/16 - PennDOT Budget and Program Priorities

The Senate Transportation Committee held a public hearing Monday with Secretary of Transportation Leslie Richards to discuss PennDOT’s budget and priorities. Senator Wagner questioned the cutoff times for paving, citing lost opportunities to continue fixing Pennsylvania’s many roads that are in poor condition.

The committee approved the following bills this week:

House Bill 853 enhances penalties for distracted driving that results in a severe injury or death.

Senate Bill 1032 makes it a summary offense to smoke in a vehicle in which children 12 years of age and younger are being transported.

House Bill 1079 repeals the 1941 act establishing the Pocono Mountain Memorial Parkway.

House Bill 1413 allows for a vehicle registration fee refund and to eliminate the semi-annual inspection requirements on motor carrier vehicles over 17,000 pounds.

House Bill 1703 amends the Vehicle Code to update all-terrain vehicle (ATV) size restrictions for young operators.

House Bill 2025 extends the validity of "in-transit" temporary registrations and allows PennDOT to assign monetary penalties in addition to the suspensions of an inspection station or mechanic for noncompliance.

House Bill 835 designates a portion of State Route 74 in Cumberland County as the Marine Lance Corporal Gary Lee Ream Memorial Highway.

Senate Bill 1315 designates a bridge on that portion of State Route 4010 over Sugar Creek, Sugarcreek Borough, Venango County, as the Lieutenant Andrew J. White Memorial Bridge.

Senate Bill 1322 designates a bridge on that portion of State Route 879 over Trout Run in Goshen Township, Clearfield County, as the Private David Kyle McCracken Memorial Bridge.

House Bill 1347 designates a portion of State Route 981 in Mount Pleasant Township, Westmoreland County, as the James Paul Takitch Honorary Highway.

House Bill 1597 designates a portion of State Route 2026, also known as Blair Mill Road, in Montgomery County as the Private First Class Paul T. Wright Memorial Highway.

House Bill 1739 designates a portion of State Route 2034 in Montgomery County as the Cpl. Carl F. Hynek III Memorial Highway.

House Bill 1787 designates a portion of State Route 1013 in Philadelphia County as the Michael R. Goodwin, Sr. Memorial Highway.

House Bill 1955 designates a portion of State Route 309 in Upper Saucon Township, Lehigh County, as the Officer David M. Petzold Memorial Highway.

House Bill 2071 designates the pedestrian walkways on the Matsonford Bridge, located on State Route 3016 over the Schuylkill River, connecting the Boroughs of West Conshohocken and Conshohocken, Montgomery County, as the Clay-Doc Walk in memory of West Conshohocken Borough Police Chief Joseph G. Clayborne III and Conshohocken Borough Police Chief James H. Dougherty, Sr.

Intergovernmental Operations Committee

The Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee approved the following bills Wednesday:

Senate Resolution 294 directs the Joint State Government Commission to conduct a study of evidence-based decision making in state government.

Senate Resolution 365 urges the President and Congress to fight for strong enforcement of U.S. trade laws to support and protect the domestic steel industry from unfair foreign competition.

Up Next

The Senate is recessed to the Call of the Chair. When we reconvene to finish work on the 2016-2017 state budget 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.
 

If you do not wish to receive this email, click here to unsubscribe.

2016 © Senate of Pennsylvania
senatorscottwagner.com