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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 June 27, 2016.

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Governor Signs My Bill Protecting Conventional Oil/Gas Production in PA

I am pleased to report that Governor recently signed into law my legislation that promotes Pennsylvania’s conventional oil and natural gas industry and removes it from onerous and inappropriate regulations imposed by the Department of Environment Protection (DEP) that are intended for Marcellus Shale operations.

Senate Bill 279 was signed into law as Act 52 of 2016.

I introduced the measure to establish the Penn Grade Crude Development Advisory Council and strongly supported amending it to include language removing conventional oil and gas drillers from the DEP’s changes to state (Chapter 78) regulations on drilling operations in the Commonwealth.

I appreciate the efforts that made this new law a reality and thereby offer a much brighter future for the conventional oil and gas industry and the thousands of Pennsylvanians whose jobs and livelihoods are dependent on those operations.

Unfortunately, some in the rule-making process were unable or unwilling to recognize the vast differences between the conventional and unconventional drilling industries.  Fortunately, the General Assembly and the Governor were able to reach an agreement on the issue, which resulted in this measure.

Act 126 of 2014 made it clear that rules developed for Marcellus Shale gas extraction operations by Department of Environmental Protection must be separate from the conventional drilling industry. Senate Bill 279 reinforces that provision and declares that the DEP’s newly enacted regulations for conventional operations are void.

 The Penn Grade Crude Development Advisory Council created under this new law will promote the conventional gas and oil industry and serve as a technical advisory board to address issues affecting conventional production.  The council will work with the DEP to ensure that the differences between small and large conventional operations, in addition to the vast differences between conventional drilling and unconventional drilling, are taken into account as future regulations or laws are developed and implemented.

Local Government Committee Approves Firearm Preemption Bill

The Senate Local Government Committee, which I chair, approved legislation on Monday that would ensure that laws governing the ownership, transportation and use of firearms in Pennsylvania are consistent in communities across the state.

Senate Bill 1330 provides for the preemption of local firearm and ammunition ordinances or rules that are inconsistent with state laws. Essentially, this bill would prevent municipalities from creating their own hodgepodge of restrictive gun ordinances.

Also at our Monday meeting, my committee approved Senate Bill 1300, legislation I introduced that would eliminate residency requirements imposed by a municipal code or charter as a qualification of elected office, or to fill a vacancy of elected office, for those on active military duty.

We also approved House Bill 1455, which provides for the delegation of enforcement and administration of parking ordinances and resolutions to parking authorities in Second Class A and Third Class cities.

On Friday, the committee met to consider and approve House Bill 1998, legislation to modernize the structure of the Philadelphia Parking Authority Board.

The bills are now before the full Senate for consideration.

Legislation Extending Fire & EMS Grant Program Sent to Governor

A bill reauthorizing a popular Fire/EMS grant program for four years received final legislative approval and was sent to the Governor for his signature and enactment into law.

Under House Bill 1877, the Fire and Emergency Medical Services grant program is reauthorized to continue for an additional four years until June 30, 2020.  The program receives $30 million in total funding with $25 million from the State Gaming Fund and $5 million from the Property Tax Relief Fund. 

The bill would for the first time allow “career emergency medical services” to apply for grants under certain conditions.  Currently, all fire companies, volunteer ambulance services and volunteer rescue squads are eligible for grant funding.  The grants may be used for construction or renovation of a unit’s station, the purchase or repair of equipment, training or debt reduction.  The maximum grant amount is $15,000 for fire companies and $10,000 for volunteer ambulance services.

A number of other bills received final legislative approval and were sent to the Governor for enactment into law.

House Bill 59 requires that all individuals born between 1945 and 1965 be offered a hepatitis C screening or diagnostic test when treated at hospitals, health care facilities or physicians’ offices.

House Bill 60 addresses the cost disparity between intravenous and oral chemotherapy treatments.

House Bill 64 requires licensed psychologists, social workers, marriage and family therapists and professional counselors to complete at least one hour of continuing education in suicide prevention.

House Bill 898 designates Philadelphia Prison System prisoner transport units and emergency response vehicles operated by the PA Turnpike as emergency vehicles, permitting them to utilize flashing lights and sirens.

Senate Bill 917 allows for the sharing of county agency, juvenile probation, drug and alcohol, mental health and education records in certain cases involving juveniles.

House Bill 1062 amends the Human Services Code to phase out the county share, extend the nursing facility budget adjustment factor, extend certain assessments, extend the Medical Assistance (MA) day-one incentive payment, extend child welfare provider submissions, suspend MA coverage for incarcerated individuals, eliminate the requirement of solely dedicated assisted living licensure staff, and move the eHealth Partnership Authority to the Department of Human Services.

Senate Bill 1104 implements changes from a June 2010 report issued by the Joint State Government Commission entitled, “The Probate, Estates and Fiduciaries Code: Proposed Amendments to Title 20 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes.”

Senate Bill 1123 corrects a regulatory issue relating to gasoline in Pennsylvania.

House Bill 1167 adds a new section to the Crime Victims Act concerning a state income tax intercept. It requires the Department of Revenue to deduct court-ordered obligations owed by a taxpayer from any tax refund due the taxpayer, notify the taxpayer that the deduction has been made, and pay any amount remaining to the taxpayer.

Senate Bill 1194 removes the sunset date of June 30, 2016 from the “State Military College Legislative Appointment Initiative.” Act 29 of 2012 allows members of the General Assembly to appoint annually an eligible student from their legislative districts.

House Bill 1335 removes the requirement in state law that the Turnpike Commission must install and maintain emergency telephones every two miles on both sides of the Turnpike.

Senate Approves Bill to Ease Substitute Teacher Shortage

The Senate passed legislation on Thursday that would address the growing problem of the shortage of substitute teachers available for school districts.

Some school districts have been reporting vacancy ‘fill’ rates of only 70 percent on any given day, and some areas have opted to outsource their substitutes or have been left with no choice but to request frequent emergency permits for day-to-day substitutes, which interrupts the learning process and cuts into precious instructional time.

Senate Bill 1312 allows college students who have completed 60 credit hours and who are enrolled in a teacher preparation program at a four-year college in Pennsylvania to substitute for a limited number of days in any school district in the Commonwealth.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

The Senate also approved and sent to the House of Representatives a number of other bills for consideration.

Senate Bill 141 amends the Real Estate Seller Disclosure Law to require disclosure of a property's flood history.

Senate Bill 289 authorizes, but does not require, a municipality or municipal authority to use public funds for the improvement, extension, repair or rehabilitation of private lateral sewer lines connected to sewage disposal systems.

Senate Bill 613 gives each of Pennsylvania’s counties the opportunity to participate in the Human Services Development Block Grant by removing the statutory limit. 

Senate Bill 666 amends the Uniform Planned Community Act to provide more transparency for homeowner’s associations.

Senate Bill 691 increases a retailer’s presumptive minimum cost of administering the cigarette tax.

House Bill 967 establishes an agricultural pilot program for industrial hemp research. The bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.

Senate Bill 1018 makes several changes to the CPA Law.

Senate Bill 1221 reforms the Pittsburgh Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority.

Senate Bill 1226 would streamline and improve the Pennsylvania Veterans Trust Fund and ensure that it continues to provide assistance to those who have served in uniform.

Senate Bill 1265 gives employers the option to pay an employees' wages in the form of a debit card. 

Senate Bill 1267 enhances the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s Municipal Signal Partnership Program known as Green Light-Go.

Senate Bill 1282 clarifies the manner in which a county Recorders of Deeds Office may charge fees for the recording of amendments to declarations of condominiums, cooperatives and planned communities. 

Senate Bill 1311 brings Pennsylvania into compliance with federal requirements under the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act by addressing parents who have committed child sexual abuse and the treatment of children victimized by human trafficking. 

House Bill 1947 addresses criminal and civil actions regarding childhood sexual assault.

Senate Confirms State Adjutant General

The Senate confirmed Brigadier General Anthony Carrelli as Adjutant General of the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs on Wednesday. In this cabinet-level position with the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, headquartered at Fort Indiantown Gap, Brig. Gen. Carrelli is responsible for command, control and supervision of National Guard units – Army and Air – allocated to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, six state-owned veterans’ homes and programs for Pennsylvania’s approximately 916,000 veterans.

Prior to the vote by the full Senate, the nomination was considered and approved by the Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee.  Audio and Video from the committee meeting.

Appellate, County Court Judges Confirmed by Senate

Pennsylvania’s appellate court benches added six new judges Monday when the state Senate confirmed nominations for those judicial vacancies. The confirmations included: Sallie Mundy for Supreme Court; Carl A. Solano, Lillian Harris Ransom and Hugh Geoffrey Moulton, Jr. for Superior Court; and Joseph Cosgrove and Julia Hearthway for Commonwealth Court.

The Senate also confirmed several County Court of Common Pleas Judges on Wednesday:  David L. Spurgeon (Allegheny); Jill Gehman Koestel (Berks); Jeffrey G. Trauger (Bucks); Lori K. Serratelli (Dauphin); Julia K. Munley (Lackawanna); Daniel K. McCarthy (Lehigh); Joseph P. Walsh (Montgomery); Lucretia C. Clemons, Vincent W. Furlong, Roger F. Gordon, Vincent N. Melchiorre, Daniel R. Sulman and Stella M. Tsai (Philadelphia); Damon J. Faldowski (Washington); and Christy H. Fawcett and Kathleen J. Prendergast (York).

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