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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 January 19, 2016.

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Delay of Keystone Exam Graduation Requirement Sent to Governor

The Senate concurred Wednesday on House amendments to legislation delaying the graduation requirement associated with the state’s end-of-course tests.

Senate Bill 880, which delays the implementation of the Keystone Exams (algebra, biology and literature) as a graduation requirement until the 2018-2019 school year, now goes to the Governor for his signature and enactment into law.

Currently, the class of 2017 is required to pass the Keystone Exams in Algebra I, Literature, and Biology in order to graduate. The Keystone Exams were intended to ensure that Pennsylvania schools are preparing students effectively and efficiently for postsecondary education or the work force. However, the tests have raised concerns from educators, students and parents. The delay will give the state time to refine the tests to address those concerns.

Bill Provides Options for Schools to Meet State 180-Day Requirement

The Senate approved a measure on Wednesday that would give schools greater flexibility to meet the state’s 180-day requirements for classroom instruction after emergency and weather-related closings.

House Bill 158 would provide potential scheduling options for school entities facing extended closings that include a school year with a minimum number of hours of instruction, in lieu of the 180-day requirement, and approving additional instruction days on not more than one Saturday a month.

The bill returns to the House of Representatives for concurrence on Senate amendments.

The Senate also approved and sent to the House Senate Bill 936, which provides for a one-time fee of $50 to cover the employer’s costs in setting up the wage garnishment to comply with the enforcement of a child support order.

Committee Approves Bill Reducing General Assembly Size

The Senate State Government Committee approved legislation that would reduce the size of the Pennsylvania General Assembly.

Senate Bill 488 would decrease the Senate from 50 to 45 Senatorial Districts and the House of Representatives from 203 to 153 districts. The proposed change requires an amendment to the state constitution, which means the same bill must be debated and passed by both the House and Senate in two consecutive sessions, and subsequently approved by referendum vote of the people of Pennsylvania.

The Committee also approved House Bill 153, a Constitutional amendment to reduce the size of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to 153 members, and House Bill 1484, legislation to further preserve Soldiers’ Grove, located across the street from the Capitol Complex.

All three bills now go to the full Senate for consideration.

Click here for video from the committee meeting.

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