Activity at the Capitol has slowed since the Senate passed a budget bill June 30 that was vetoed by the governor.
An update on budget negotiations and other Senate activity this week can be found below.
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In this Edition:
Update on State Budget Negotiations
In March, Gov. Wolf proposed a state budget that raised taxes by $4.5 billion and raised spending to historic highs. In June, the Senate approved a budget bill that held the line on taxes and boosted support for education by $370 million dollars. The governor vetoed the plan, and, unfortunately, hasnít budged from his demands since.
Even more disheartening, rather than negotiate, the governor is using out-of-state political action committees to send attack mailers to households, trashing the Senate-approved plan in general and lawmakers in particular. This is an awful strategy for achieving compromise.
The worst part is, the governor vetoed the entire budget Ė something no governor has done in 40 years -- even though there was bipartisan agreement on two-thirds of the line items. As a result, he has needlessly put funding for a wide array of initiatives in jeopardy, from school construction to rape crisis centers to help for veterans.
Iíll continue to keep you updated on the budget situation, and Iíll continue to support negotiations that result in a fair budget that protects taxpayers.
Health Care Consumer Protection Measure Sent to Governor
A bill protecting consumers against paying multiple copayments for physical therapy, chiropractic and occupational therapy services received final legislative approval Tuesday and was sent to the governor.
The Senate concurred on House amendments to Senate Bill 487, which prevents health insurance policies from charging a consumer more than one copayment amount per visit. The bill also prohibits policies from depleting more than one visit for services provided on a given date.
Senate Passes Bill Protecting Utility Workers during Emergencies
The Senate on Tuesday passed legislation Iím co-sponsoring that would add electric utility workers to the list of protected workers during disaster emergencies. Senate Bill 765 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Currently, state law provides additional protection for first responders, highway maintenance and construction workers and tow truck operators during emergencies. Motorists are required to travel cautiously at reduced speeds and carefully follow traffic markers, road flares, signs, or directions of emergency responders.
Additionally, emergency service responders may file a written report with the police officer upon observing a violation. Violators may be fined up to $500 per offense and pay restitution costs if warranted.
Other Bills Approved by the Senate this Week
Senate Bill 404 sets guidelines and procedures for the investigation and interrogation of correctional officers by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections as a result of a complaint of alleged misconduct.
Senate Bill 430 expands access to the State Intermediate Punishment Program to those convicted of crimes due to a gambling addiction.
Senate Bill 474 requires Senate confirmation of the Chief Executive Officer of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.
Senate Bill 652 ensures that all active-duty military pay remains exempt from local income tax. I am co-sponsoring this measure.
Senate Bill 683 expands the list of criminal offenses for which DNA testing is required upon arrest. I voted against this measure.
Senate Bill 898 amends the Second Class County Code providing for revenue neutrality of taxes following countywide reassessments.
Senate Bill 925 updates the qualification standards for the commercial driver learnerís permit and the commercial driverís license.
Hearing Explores Efforts to Improve Highway Safety
The Senate Transportation Committee on Tuesday held a joint public hearing with the House Transportation Committee on efforts to improve safety for highway workers, motorists and pedestrians.
Topics included construction zone safety, distracted driving and speed limit enforcement. You can view the hearing and written testimony here.
Twitter and Facebook: I post regular updates on legislative action, committee developments, useful state-related information, happenings in the 24th Senatorial District and more on Twitter @SenatorMensch and on my Facebook page.
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