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Below is a recap of this week’s legislative activity in the Senate including a recap of committee hearings that were held. I was pleased to welcome York County’s own Anne Druck, President of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, to testify at a tourism hearing, and as a member of the Law & Justice Committee I participated in the confirmation hearing for Acting State Police Commissioner Marcus Brown.
Continue reading for more details on this week’s committee activity, as well as a review of some of the legislation approved by the Senate this week.
I always welcome your feedback and input. Please don’t hesitate to contact me via my website.
Scott R. Wagner
In this Edition:
Acting State Police Commissioner Marcus Brown Appears Before Law and Justice Committee
On Wednesday, the Senate Law and Justice Committee, sent the nomination of Col. Marcus Brown for State Police Commissioner to the full Senate without a recommendation.
Col. Brown’s nomination has been tainted with scandals almost from the day he was appointed by Governor Wolf. Mr. Brown is now in a situation where I believe that he will be incapable of gaining the trust and confidence of the officers that he is charged with leading. It is my job as a State Senator to advise and consent if I believe that the Governor’s nominee will be able to discharge their duties faithfully. In the case of Mr. Brown, I do not believe that he will be able to do so. Some current and former Pennsylvania state troopers called Brown's decision to wear their uniform disrespectful. While I find his resume to be impressive, I supported the committee’s vote to send the nomination to the full Senate without recommending its approval.
You can view video of the committee meeting and nomination documents here.
Environmental Resources and Energy Committee Convenes Hearing with DEP Secretary Quigley
While I am not a committee member, I chose to attend the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee hearing that was held on Tuesday to consider the nomination of John Quigley as Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). I felt it was important to hear directly from Mr. Quigley in an effort to educate myself in preparation for the final vote on his confirmation.
On Wednesday, the full Senate did vote to confirm Mr. Quigley as DEP Secretary with a vote of 44-4, and I voted in support of his nomination.
Senate Confirms Seven Cabinet Secretaries
The Senate confirmed seven cabinet nominations this week. I voted to support all but Pedro Cortes for Secretary of State.
The Senate passed bipartisan legislation Monday to provide better access to lobbying disclosure data.
Senate Bill 695 requires lobbyists and lobbying firms to register and file reports electronically through the computerized system developed by the Pennsylvania Department of State. In addition, the Department will be required to post on its Lobbyist Disclosure website all lobbying registration and reporting documents it receives within a week of the filing.
Currently, lobbyists may register and file reports with the state on paper forms through traditional mail. In some cases this has led to delayed posting of the information on the Department’s publicly accessible website.
Legislation that would improve access to child immunizations was approved Tuesday by the Senate.
Senate Bill 305 would allow pharmacists the ability to administer the flu vaccine to children 9 years of age and older with parental consent. The legislation would also permit pharmacy interns who have completed appropriate training to administer the flu vaccine under pharmacist supervision.
Current state law allows pharmacists and pharmacy interns to immunize only adults. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all children at least six months old receive a flu shot every year, but only about 55 percent of Pennsylvania children do.
The Senate approved a package of bills on Wednesday intended to help prevent animal cruelty.
Senate Bill 78 targets kennel owners who lose their license due to violations of the Dog Law. The legislation would prevent violators from continuing to operate a kennel at the same location by having a license issued to an immediate family member or another individual who resides at the same address.
Senate Bill 294 addresses the enforcement and application of Pennsylvania’s cruelty laws, particularly as they pertain to horses. It better defines “torture” and provides appropriate penalties based on language drafted with the assistance of the Farm Bureau. The bill also provides for the seizure of animals in extreme instances of torture or cruelty.
Senate Bill 373 strengthens laws regarding the tethering of dogs. It also adds a provision regarding shelter for dogs and cats to ensure that they are protected against inclement weather, kept dry and allowed to maintain their normal body temperatures.
Senate Bill 594 adds a section to Pennsylvania's Animal Cruelty Law to specifically address when it happens in a domestic-violence situation. Under the legislation, if a person with a protection-from-abuse order against them commits animal cruelty against the pet of their spouse or partner, they would face a minimum monetary fine of $2,000 and a maximum fine of $15,000.
The Senate approved Senate Bill 490 on Tuesday to include the Director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency as a position subject to review and confirmation by the Senate. Currently, the post is filled by appointment by the Governor.
The additional review of this individual will improve agency accountability and ensure that there is strong internal and external communication and coordination between state and local agencies in responding to emergencies.
The Senate returns to voting session on Monday. You can watch session live at my website.
On Wednesday at 2 p.m., the Senate Finance Committee will hold a public hearing on proposals to increase the sales/use tax and the personal income tax. You can watch the hearing live at PASenateGOP.com.