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Week of January 23, 2017
In this Edition:
Wagner Chairs First Local Government Committee Meeting
This week the Senate convened for the start of the 2017-2018 legislative session. In order to begin placing bills on the voting calendar, several committees held meetings, including the Senate Local Government Committee, to which I was appointed Chairman.
We approved two bills on Wednesday:
SB 10 addresses what are frequently termed “sanctuary cities.” These municipalities adopt ordinances or policies stating they will not assist the Federal government by detaining or turning over to the Federal government individuals that have immigration orders issued for them.
The legislation holds these “municipalities of refuge” accountable if they release such an individual and in turn, that individual causes harm or damage. Additionally, for adopting a sanctuary city policy, the municipality would be ineligible for state grants and the sale of state surplus property.
SB 128 makes it clear that municipalities cannot impose leave and compensation requirements upon employers within the municipality. The legislation also voids any such mandates that were enacted after January 1, 2015. Philadelphia City Council enacted a mandate on employers in 2015 after two prior attempts were disapproved by Mayor Nutter due to his concerns for the effect the policy would have on the business community.
Committees Review Wolf Decision to Close Prison Facilities
On Monday the Senate Majority Policy, Democratic Policy, and Senate Judiciary Committees held a joint public hearing to review the Wolf administration’s decision to potentially close two state prisons.
The Department of Corrections had announced on January 6th that it would close two State Correctional Institutions (SCIs) in June. Five state prisons were placed under consideration – SCI Frackville, SCI Mercer, SCI Pittsburgh, SCI Retreat, and SCI Waymart.
Monday’s hearing looked at various aspects of the proposed closings including cost to taxpayers, public safety, transparency, prison overpopulation, and the impact on local communities.
Since then the Administration announced it would only close one facility, SCI Pittsburgh.
The findings from the hearing and the Administration’s final decision will more than likely be a major topic during the upcoming Senate Appropriations Committee budget hearings to be held in February and March.
Transportation Committee Examines Winter Preparedness, Modernization
On Tuesday, the Senate Transportation Committee held a public hearing on winter preparedness and modernization for PennDOT and the PA Turnpike. Additionally, the Committee held a voting meeting and approved three bills.
Senate Bill 170 requires comprehensive reform measures at the Delaware River Port Authority.
Senate Bill 171 requires Senate confirmation of the Chief Executive Officer of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.
Senate Bill 172 provides a five-year trial period for PENNDOT to place speed cameras in active work zones on limited access highways.
Other Committee Action
Environmental Resources and Energy
The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee approved two bills Tuesday.
Senate Bill 138 gives royalty interest owners the opportunity to inspect records of the gas company to verify proper payment.
Senate Bill 139 prohibits gas companies from retaliating against a royalty interest owner by terminating the lease agreement or ceasing development because a landowner questions the accuracy of the royalty payments.
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved five bills Tuesday.
Senate Bill 42 imposes criminal penalties for those who falsely wear military awards and decorations.
Senate Bill 59 authorizes joint ventures between correctional facilities and private industry.
Senate Bill 60 requires cash-for-gold dealers to retain each item of precious metal for 10 business days, instead of five, after purchasing it. The extension will allow burglary victims to discover and report the theft and will enable police to investigate the theft.
Senate Bill 62 protects and provides services for children of incarcerated parents.
Senate Bill 69 addresses the enforcement and application of Pennsylvania’s cruelty laws as they pertain to horses.
Urban Affairs and Housing
The Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee approved two bills Wednesday.
Senate Bill 50 requires disclosure of a property's flood history.
Senate Bill 51 amends the Landlord and Tenant Act to require disclosure of a property's flood history.
Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness
The Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee approved two measures on Wednesday.Senate Bill 137 codifies the Civil Air Patrol’s state operations in Title 51 under the leadership of the Adjutant General.
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.