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Senator Scott Hutchinson

Dear Friend,

I am pleased to send you my Session Wrap Up e-newsletter. This e-newsletter features events and legislative activities from the session week of October 13, 2015.

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Senate Approves “Fair Share” Bill

The Senate passed “Fair Share” legislation on Wednesday that would ensure that public employee paychecks and taxpayer resources are no longer used as a vehicle for the collection of political money by outside groups.

Senate Bill 501 allows public-sector unions to continue to collect membership dues from union members. SB 501 also allows for the continued payroll deduction from non-members as long as those funds are used strictly for collective bargaining purposes, grievances, and arbitrations -- money otherwise known as the “Fair Share” amount.

Senate Bill 501 also allows unions to continue to spend political money, it just cannot be collected from employee paychecks by the government. Political contributions and other political funds must be collected from individuals directly by the organization seeking the funds -- just as every other political organization must do.

The legislation only applies to public-sector union contracts that currently benefit from this taxpayer-funded legal and financial privilege.

Senate Passes Legislation to Establish Restricted Fund for ATV Activities

The Senate approved legislation Tuesday that would ensure that funds received through the registration, certification and enforcement of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) in Pennsylvania are used specifically to support ATV activities.

Senate Bill 648 requires that monies generated through ATV-related operations are placed in a restricted account to be used for a variety of purposes including the construction and maintenance of ATV trails and acquisition of equipment, supplies and interests in land.

Currently, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) does not separate expenditures related to ATV and snowmobile operations. As a result, these funds are being disproportionately allocated between user groups. While ATV operations contribute $1.4 million of the $1.6 million in the current fund, 80 percent of the total funding is allocated to expansion of snowmobile trails.

Other bills approved by the Senate and sent to the House this week include:

House Bill 239, which amends the County Pension Law to further provide for definitions and for supplemental benefits.

Senate Bill 296, which increases the penalties for making false reports to public safety agencies to address “Swatting.” Swatting involves making a fake 911 emergency call in order to draw a response from law enforcement, usually a SWAT team, or emergency service personnel.

Senate Bill 748, which eliminates the mandatory escort of super-sized loads by the Pennsylvania State Police and replaces them with certified pilot escorts. Since the Senate concurred Wednesday on House amendments as further amended in the Senate Rules & Executive Nominations Committee on Tuesday, the bill returns to the House for a concurrence vote.

Senate Bill 772, which updates the state Professional Psychologists Practice Act for the first time since 1986.

Senate Bill 791, which amends the Second Class Township Code further providing for removal of elected township officers for failure to perform duties.

Four Bills Sent to Governor’s Desk for Enactment into Law

The Senate sent four bills on to the Governor on Wednesday for his signature and enactment into law.

House Bill 904 amends the First Class Township Code to further provide for property maintenance codes, reserved powers, and the Uniform Construction Code.

House Bill 906 amends the First Class Township Code further providing for removal of elected township officers for failure to perform duties.

House Bill 910 amends Act 35 of 1953, pertaining to incorporated towns, regarding the removal of elected officers for failure to perform duties.

Senate Bill 925 updates the qualification standards for the commercial driver learner’s permit and the commercial driver’s license.

Study to Evaluate Public-Private Partnerships for Veterans’ Care

The Senate adopted a Resolution on Tuesday to study options to provide additional care for veterans.

Senate Resolution 171 directs the Pennsylvania Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to study the potential cost-savings and effectiveness of allowing the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to partner with the private sector to provide additional care for veterans.

The study will determine how many veterans are on waiting lists for placement in state-owned veterans’ homes, the average cost-per-day for care of a veteran at a state-owned facility compared to a private health care facility, and the projected number of veterans who will require care over the next 10 years in Pennsylvania.

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