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Week of February 2, 2017
In this Edition:
Wagner Paycheck Protection Legislation Approved by Committee
The Senate State Government Committee on Tuesday approved legislation I am sponsoring to prevent the collection of money for public sector unions by the Commonwealth and school districts.
Senate Bill 167 proposes to amend the state Constitution to permanently ban public sector unions from utilizing schools and state government to collect money for them.
Originally, the legislation would have prevented the collection of union dues, non-membership fees, and political contributions by the Commonwealth and school districts. The State Government Committee chose to amend the bill to only ban the collection of political contributions, mirroring a companion bill, Senate Bill 166, which was also voted out of the State Government Committee and which would address the issue statutorily.
Paycheck protection has been a top priority for me since coming to the Senate in 2014. Taxpayer money is being used to collect dues and PAC contributions for public sector unions. The unions then use that money to lobby against major issues like pension reform and the elimination of property taxes, both of which are taking a toll on the Commonwealth and its taxpayers.
Opponents argue the cost to taxpayers is minimal. But cost has never been my focus. These unions are getting away with an activity that would send anyone else to jail – using taxpayer resources for political purposes.
As a constitutional amendment, the legislation would have to be approved in two consecutive legislative sessions.
Senate Unanimously Approves Bill Eliminating Child Abuse Statute of Limitations
On Wednesday the Senate voted unanimously in support of Senate Bill 261, which eliminates the statute of limitations for child sex abuse crimes. The legislation also extends the time limit for a victim to file civil actions against their abuser from age 30 years of age to 50 years of age.
The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Votes to Update Review of Volunteer Firefighter/EMS Support
On Tuesday, the Senate approved a measure to review Pennsylvania’s progress in providing essential support to its volunteer fire departments and EMS organizations.
Senate Resolution 6 calls for a “reboot” of Senate Resolution 60 of 2003, the comprehensive study of fire and EMS issues completed in 2004. SR 6 calls for a new commission made up of legislators, first responders, and representatives from municipalities. The panel would follow up on the impact of SR 60 and study issues currently affecting first responders. The commission would then provide its recommendations to the General Assembly by June 30, 2018.
Measure to Improve Law Covering Cruelty to Horses Passes Senate
On Tuesday, the Senate approved legislation I am co-sponsoring to improve the enforcement and application of Pennsylvania’s cruelty laws covering horses.
Senate Bill 69 will amend Title 18 (Crimes) to better define “torture” and to provide appropriate penalties with language drafted with the assistance of the Farm Bureau.
The bill will also amend Chapter 37 of Title 22 (pertaining to Humane Society Police Officers) to provide necessary guidance and uniformity to those who are tasked with protecting the humane treatment of these large animals. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Approves Protections for Natural Gas Leaseholders
Two bills protecting natural gas leaseholders were approved by the Senate on Monday.
Senate Bill 138 gives royalty interest owners the opportunity to inspect records of the gas company to verify proper payment. It also requires that proceeds from production of oil and gas be paid within 90 days unless otherwise stated in the lease.
Senate Bill 139 prohibits gas companies from retaliating against a royalty owner by terminating the lease agreement or ceasing development simply because the landowner questions the accuracy of the royalty payments.
The bills now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.
A recap of activity by the Senate committees I serve on.
The Senate Appropriations Committee approved three bills on Tuesday:
Senate Bill 170 imposes comprehensive reform measures at the Delaware River Port Authority.
Senate Bill 181 establishes a performance-based budget component.
Senate Bill 261 eliminates the statute of limitations for child sex abuse crimes.
Labor and Industry
The Senate Labor and Industry Committee on Wednesday approved one bill:
Senate Bill 241 amends the Equal Pay Law to allow employers to determine wages based on the level or amount of education, training or experience, and prohibits employer discrimination against an employee who files a complaint.
The Senate reconvenes Monday at 1 p.m. You can watch session at SenatorScottWagner.com
I welcome your feedback and input. Please don’t hesitate to contact me via my website.