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Senator Bob Mensch

In this Edition:

  • Mensch Urges Extension of State Military College Legislative Appointment Initiative
  • Teacher Furlough Reform Bill Passes General Assembly
  • Additional Bills Sent to Governor
  • Additional Bills Sent to the House for Consideration
  • Bills Returned to the House for Concurrence on Senate Amendments
  • Mensch Bill to Help Retailers Administer Cigarette Tax Approved by Committee
  • Senator Killion Sworn Into Office
  • Appropriations Committee Round-Up
  • Next Week

Mensch Urges Extension of State Military College Legislative Appointment Initiative

5/11/16 - Senate Bill 1194

During Wednesday’s Senate Education Committee meeting, I spoke in support of Senate Bill 1194, legislation I’m sponsoring to remove the June 30, 2016 sunset date from Act 29 of 2012, the “State Military College Legislative Appointment Initiative.”

Act 29 was enacted to allow members of the General Assembly to appoint annually an eligible student who is a member of their legislative district. The law has produced many worthy cadets at the Valley Forge Military Academy. It is my intention to have this appointment process available to students and members into the foreseeable future.

I’m happy to report the bill was unanimously approved by the committee and sent to the full Senate for consideration.

Teacher Furlough Reform Passes General Assembly

The Senate gave final approval Monday to legislation that would keep the best teachers in the classroom and boost student achievement by ending the practice of seniority-based layoffs.

House Bill 805, known as the Protecting Excellent Teachers Act, would strengthen the teaching profession and boost student success by ensuring that school districts use teacher performance to guide furlough and reinstatement decisions. Performance ratings would be based on the comprehensive statewide educator evaluation system adopted in 2012, under which observed educators are assigned a rating of distinguished, proficient, needs improvement or failing.

House Bill 805 prohibits school districts from using a teacher’s pay and benefits as determining factors for any layoff decision.

Currently, teacher layoffs are conducted in order of inverse seniority. The last teacher hired is the first person fired. Pennsylvania is one of only a few states that require seniority to be the sole factor in determining layoffs. House Bill 805 now goes to the Governor’s desk.

I co-sponsored the Senate version of this bill, Senate Bill 5.

Additional Bills Sent to Governor

House Bill 400 establishes the “Work Experience for High School Students with Disabilities Act.”

Senate Bill 811 provides for the Fiscal Year 2015-16 Capital Budget.

House Bill 1200 repeals part of an Act from 1903 that requires railroads under bridges or viaducts to pay maintenance fees.

House Bill 1788 clarifies circumstances in Philadelphia in which a Neighborhood Improvement District overlaps with a Tax Increment Financing district.

Senate Approves Cost-saving Legislation for Schools

The Senate on Tuesday approved legislation I’m co-sponsoring to allow school districts to save thousands of dollars in annual mailing costs.

Senate Bill 1077 eliminates the state mandate that school districts annually inform parents by physical mailing when the district uses audio and video recording to identify and address discipline issues on school buses.

The mailer mandate was included as part of Act 9 of 2014, which gave school districts the ability to use audio recordings on school buses. Instead of the physical mailing, which can easily cost thousands of dollars each year, schools must post notice of the policy in the student handbook as well as on the school’s website.

Senate Bill 1077 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Additional Bills Sent to the House for Consideration

Senate Bill 359 revises Pennsylvania’s truancy laws by providing new procedures to be followed when a child becomes truant and additional procedures if a child becomes habitually truant. I am co-sponsoring this measure.

Senate Bill 1062 increases penalties for home invasion burglaries. I am co-sponsoring this measure.

Senate Bill 1144 prohibits the sale of over-the-counter cough medicines containing dextromethorphan to minors.

Senate Bill 1156 requires health care personnel and clergy to obtain background checks.

Senate Bill 1229 corrects technical issues related to the distribution of Pennsylvania Breeding Funds.

Bills Returned to the House for Concurrence on Senate Amendments

House Bill 944 amends the Community and Economic Improvement Act to improve the management of neighborhood improvement districts in Philadelphia.

House Bill 1310 provides privacy and protects the safety of individuals who call 911 to report crimes.

House Bill 1574 updates the Anti-hazing Law to include hazing done as a condition for initiation or admission into any organization.

Mensch Bill to Help Retailers Administer Cigarette Tax Approved by Committee

Legislation I’m sponsoring to increase a retailer’s presumptive minimum cost of administering the cigarette tax was re-reported as amended by the Senate Appropriations Committee on Monday.

Senate Bill 691 provides that the cost of doing business by a retailer of cigarettes shall be presumed to be seven percent of the basic cost of cigarettes to the retailer. Under current law, the presumed cost is six percent. This required cost of business mark-up has not changed in more than 60 years.

The benefits of this legislation are that thousands of retail licensees will see their cash flow enhanced. The Department of Revenue will have a clearer paper trail in the event of an audit and sales tax collections will be enhanced. This will further assist in collection of the Philadelphia school tax.

Senator Killion Sworn Into Office

Senator Tom Killion was sworn into office during a Wednesday ceremony in the Senate Chamber. He was elected to the Senate on April 26 under a special election to represent the citizens of the 9th Senatorial District, which includes portions of Chester and Delaware counties.

Prior to joining the Senate, he served as a State Representative for the 168th Legislative District and was Chairman of the Delaware County Council. He also founded two local small businesses.

The Senate returned to its full complement of 50 members: 31 Republicans and 19 Democrats.

Appropriations Committee Round-Up

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved the following bills this week:

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

Senate Bill 837 ensures only those with a professional license are permitted to represent themselves as a marriage and family therapist in Pennsylvania.

Senate Bill 1052 requires the Pennsylvania Department of State to develop a secure online system for military-overseas voters to return their absentee ballot electronically.

House Bill 602 increases the active duty pay for National Guard personnel from $75 to $100 per day.

House Bill 944 amends the Community and Economic Improvement Act to improve the management of neighborhood improvement districts in Philadelphia.

House Bill 1552 requires the Secretary of Education to enter into an interstate reciprocity agreement governing higher education distance education programs.

Senate Bill 1216 designates the bridge carrying State Route 3087 connecting Scottdale, Westmoreland County, and Everson, Fayette County, as the Private First Class Joseph Anthony Petrarca/Staff Sergeant John William Earnesty Memorial Bridge.

Senate Bill1217 designates a portion of State Route 523 in Somerset County as the Private First Class Nils G. Thompson Memorial Highway.

Up Next

The Senate reconvenes Monday, May 16 at 1 p.m. You can watch session live at

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