Below is a recap of this week’s legislative activity in the Senate. It covers votes by the full Senate and committee hearings, plus a look ahead.
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The Senate approved legislation imposing penalties on those who falsely wear military awards and decorations.
Senate Bill 43 would prohibit a person from falsely representing oneself as having received a medal or decoration authorized by Congress for the Armed Forces of the United States. In order to be culpable, the person must have the intent to use the false representations to commit fraud, obtain employment or be appointed to public office.
A person who violates the Act would be guilty of committing a third-degree misdemeanor. Enhanced penalties would be available if a person falsely wears a Congressional Medal of Honor, Navy Cross, Air Force Cross, Silver Star or Purple Heart. The bill was sent to the House of Representatives.
Senate Bill 333 provides for state preemption of local mandated leave ordinances. Such ordinances place an undue burden on employers doing business in multiple municipalities with differing leave policies. I am a co-sponsor of this bill.
Senate Bill 61 officially recognizes bike medics and permits them to operate their bicycles in the same manner as a police officer on a bicycle.
House Bill 152 amends the Emergency and Law Enforcement Personnel Death Benefit Act by extending the filing period for the death benefit. This bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.
Senate Bill 485 increases the criminal grading for impersonating a medical doctor and providing medical treatment from a second-degree misdemeanor to a first-degree misdemeanor.
The Legislative Budget and Finance Committee (LBFC), which I chair, released two reports Wednesday in response to Senate Resolution 414 (Charter School Study) and Act 207 of 2012. Below are links to the full reports:
The LBFC is a bipartisan agency consisting of 12 members of the House and Senate. The committee conducts studies and make recommendations aimed at eliminating unnecessary expenditures, promoting economy in the government of the Commonwealth, and assuring that state funds are being expended in accordance with legislative intent and law.
I introduced Senate Bill 622 this year to remove certain recurring projects from the LBFC to allow personnel to work on new studies. Senate Bill 622 was approved by the Senate State Government Committee and is currently under second consideration in the Senate. You can find more information on my prime sponsored legislation here.
Public pension reform is a top issue for the General Assembly this year. The unfunded liabilities of the State Employees Retirement System and the Public School Employees Retirement System pose one of the greatest budgetary challenges in a generation. Underfunding in previous years, combined with the recession’s impact on pension fund investments have caused skyrocketing pension payments for the state and school districts.
The Senate Finance Committee heard several plans to address the crisis during a Wednesday public hearing on “Proposals to Change the Design of Public Pensions.” You can view the hearing and read testimony here.
The a bipartisan Economy, Business, and Jobs (EBJ) Caucus, which I co-chair with Senator Lisa Boscola (D-18), met Monday to hear testimony from members of Pennsylvania BIO and Life Sciences Greenhouse of Central PA.
During the meeting, speakers from PA Bio and Life Sciences presented members with a legislative update on behalf of the life sciences community in the Commonwealth. They reported on employment, economic development and job creation in their field, as well as the industry’s current strengths and challenges.
The EBJ Caucus seeks to examine ways to break down barriers that hinder economic expansion within the Commonwealth. The caucus fosters a better understanding of what shapes our economic climate, encourages investment and which factors enable continued workforce development, so that Pennsylvania can unlock its true economic potential.
On Tuesday, I joined Senator Lisa Boscola (D-18) in hosting a series of bipartisan and bicameral events including a legislative breakfast meeting in union with this year’s Community College Advocacy Day in Harrisburg to focus on community college initiatives and more.
The Community College Caucus helps to ensure that the good work of community colleges is being shared with the legislature and assistance is provided when needed and when possible.
Community colleges are a vital component of the Commonwealth's workforce development continuum. They are a unique link between a student and the workplace in how responsive and flexible they can be in addressing the educational needs of a local community. We need to ensure their vitality within communities and their ability to grow local workforces.
The Senate returns to voting session on Monday. You can watch session live at PASenateGOP.com.
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