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It turned out to be one of the busiest weeks of the year so far on Capitol Hill, as the House of Representatives and the Senate were in session.
While Monday was light on the committee meeting schedule, the following bills finally passed the House and will now be considered in the Senate:
- HB 604 (Fritz, R-Susquehanna), which would establish requirements for the Department of Environmental Protection regarding processes, timelines, and dispute resolution for general environmental permits, general plan approvals, and individual permits;
- HB 1790 (Silvis, R-Westmoreland), which would amend the building code to provide specific code references for denied permit applications, scheduling required inspections, required disclosures on a permit application, and corrective action against administrators certified codes;
- HB 2447 (Benninghoff, R-Center), which would provide for the divestiture by the state treasurer, state employee retirement system, public school employee retirement system and Pennsylvania municipal retirement system of investments in assets related to Russia and Belarus;
- HB 2450 (Fritz, R-Susquehanna), which would change the vote of the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) so that the number of votes is equivalent to the contribution of each member in terms of area;
- HB 2451 (Fritz, R-Susquehanna), which would end the DRBC’s ban on fracking; and
- HB 2461 (Owlett, R-Tioga), which would require the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to establish an underground leasing program for oil and gas on state lands.
On Tuesday, the House Aging and Older Adult Services committee held an information meeting on workforce challenges in long-term care facilities. Next, the House Health Committee held a public hearing on opioids. Additionally, the Senate Committee on Aging and Youth held a public hearing on the potential impact on children and youth of the legalization of adult marijuana.
The House Finance Committee reported HB 2277 (Topper, R-Bedford), which would repeal the requirement for businesses to remit advance payments for their sales tax collections. The Committee also pointed out SB 349 (Hutchinson, R-Venango), which would bring the Section 179 expense deduction allowed under state personal income tax into line with federal law.
Two bills affecting the city of Philadelphia have been reported by the House Judiciary Committee:
- HB 2238 (White, R-Philadelphia), which would limit the Philadelphia district attorney to two terms; and
- HB 2275 (White, R-Philadelphia), which would give the attorney general the power to investigate and prosecute a violation of certain gun laws in the city.
The House Urban Affairs Committee reported on three important bills:
- HB 1791 (Twardzik, R-Schuylkill), which would allow communities to create and maintain a vacant property registration and appraisal program;
- HB 2210 (Pennycuick, R-Montgomery), which would add land banks to the list of entities that can be custodians under the Abandoned and Degraded Property Preservation Act; and
- SB 439 (Argall, R-Schuylkill), which would allow counties to enact fees for each deed and mortgage registered for a demolition program.
In the upper house, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee said:
- SB 749 (Mensch, R-Montgomery), which would address medical marijuana use in the workplace;
- SB 1121 (Argall, R-Schuylkill), which would require wage records to be verified against recipients of Supplemental Medical and Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits;
- SB 1124 (Argall, R-Schuylkill), which would require death certificates to be verified against recipients of SNAP benefits; and
- SB 1188 (Brooks, R-Mercer), which would make changes to testing and insurance coverage for Lyme disease.
The full House passed the following bills which will be submitted to the Senate for consideration:
- HB 2401 (Wheeland, R-Lycoming), which would authorize registered nurse practitioners and physician assistants to order and oversee home health service orders; and
- HB 2419 (Pickett, R-Bradford), which would provide the required psychiatric time either in person or through the use of telebehavioral health technology.
Conversely, the Senate returned the following bills to the House for consideration:
- SB 284 (Yaw, R-Lycoming), which would provide for the dismantling of solar installations;
- SB 962 (Langerholc, R-Cambria), which would establish a grant program to complete the construction or renovation of a facility, to expand and improve connections to utilities and broadband, and to purchase equipment, furniture and security systems to create coworking centers in rural counties or rural municipalities; and
- SB 1172 (Vogel, R-Beaver), which authorizes the establishment of sexual assault nurse examiner programs by hospitals.
On Wednesday, the House Children and Youth Committee held an information meeting on the Court-Appointed Special Advocate Program. The Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensing Committee reported HB 1594 (Tomlinson, R-Bucks) and SB 895 (Regan, R-Cumberland), which would provide for the collection, verification and disclosure of information by online marketplaces to inform consumers.
Four bills have been flagged by the Senate Finance Committee:
- HB 199 (Dunbar, R-Westmoreland), which would allow a person to claim a deduction for the depletion of a mine, oil and gas well and other natural deposits;
- HB 324 (White, R-Philadelphia), which would increase Philadelphia’s net operating loss carryforward provisions to 20 years;
- HB 333 (Nelson, R-Westmoreland), which would allow a business to take full advantage of the expense deduction allowed under Section 179 of the Internal Revenue Code for the purchase of qualified equipment; and
- SB 771 (Aument, R-Lancaster), which would gradually reduce the state’s net corporate income tax rate from 9.99% to 6.99%.
Two important bills have passed the House and will next be considered by the Senate: HB 1330 (Ortitay, R-Allegheny), which would establish an online clearinghouse of online courses for enrolled K-12 students; and HB 2458 (White, R-Philadelphia), which would create the Philadelphia LNG Export Task Force.
The Senate passed two bills affecting the administration of elections: SB 982 (Baker, R-Luzerne), which would prohibit the use of non-public funds for election administration; and SB 1200 (Dush, R-Susquehanna), which would eliminate drop boxes and require mail-in ballots to be returned to the county board of elections office. They also finally passed SB 1167 (DiSanto, R-Dauphin), which would authorize financial institutions and insurers to provide services to cannabis-related businesses and prohibit adverse regulatory or legal action by the state.
HB 2058 (Mako, R-Northampton), was sent to the governor’s office. The bill would make local tax filing deadlines coincide with the state personal income tax filing deadline. HB 245 (Kaufer, R-Luzerne), which would update provisions for international medical school graduates, is also awaiting the Governor’s signature.
The week ahead
The House resumes on April 25 and the Senate does not return to Harrisburg until May 23. As a result, the committee meeting schedule is rather light next week.
On Wednesday, the Senate Finance Committee will hold a public hearing on the film tax credit program.
On Thursday, the Senate State Government Committee will hold a public hearing to discuss SB 690 (Laughlin, R-Erie), which would allow voters registered as independents to vote in primary elections.
A full list of committee meetings can be found here:
In other news
- administration announcement $2.1 million in alternative fuel incentive grants to municipalities and businesses for 99 electric vehicles and other clean-fuel transportation projects.
- The governor announcement six projects will receive $3.7 million for the construction or rehabilitation of mixed-use developments.
- Governor Wolf unveiled the Pennsylvania GreenGov Council’s 2021 annual report, which found that agencies and commissions reduced their energy use by 3.2% in fiscal year 2020-21, and 12.3% for savings of more than $8 million over three years
- The governor announcement scholarships totaling more than $11 million for 26 apprenticeship programs.
- Governor Wolf announcement that the Department of Labor and Industry and the Office of Administration have partnered with Indiana University in Pennsylvania to study the possibility of expanding the protections of the Occupational Safety and Health Act standards at work at the workplaces of thousands of public sector workers throughout Pennsylvania.
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