Open Seat 48th E-Newsletter

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Week of February 5, 2018

Senate State Government Committee Activity

The Senate State Government Committee, which I chair, met to consider the following legislation.  All were unanimously reported as committed.

My Senate Resolution 253urges Congress to amend the Gun Control Act of 1968 to protect the gun rights of medical cannabis patients;

Senate Resolution 258 (Williams) – urges Congress to remove marijuana as a Schedule 1 under the Controlled Substances Act;

Senate Bill 748 (Argall, Baker, Brooks, Fontana and Yudichak) – requires public input before closing public safety facilities, and;

Senate Bill 1034 (Scarnati and Corman) – a shell bill with no details which is necessary to fulfill both Constitutional obligations to consider a bill on three separate days in the House and Senate and the Court-imposed PA Supreme Court requirement that the General Assembly submit new Congressional District lines to the Governor by February 9 or have the courts redraw the maps themselves if none are approved by February 15.  The Court’s lack of respect for our Constitution left the Senate with an unreasonable timeline that does not allow for (my long standing commitment of) openness and transparency, or any details as to what the lines might look like and little rationale of how the Court believes our Constitution was violated, or how it will evaluate if new maps will meet its currently secret definition of what’s Constitutional.  The Court has already announced they’ve retained a “special advisor” so it’s possible one person will be drawing new maps with little or no public input – I hope no one tries to tell me that’s “reform.”  Stay tuned…

The Senate State Government Committee also held a public hearing to discuss the recently released report issued by the Joint State Government Commission on “Voting Technology in Pennsylvania,” written in response to Senate Resolution 394 of 2016 (Vogel).  Testifiers included Senator Vogel, and Glenn Pasewicz, Executive Director, and Michael Dirckx, Staff Attorney, of the Joint State Government Commission.  The hearing can be watched here

Bills Pass Senate, Go to House for Further Consideration

All bills passed unanimously unless otherwise noted.

Senate Bill 52 – establishes the National Guard Youth Challenge Program;

Senate Bill 234 – (42-8) establishes the PA Property Assessed Clean Energy Program;

Senate Bill 611 – requires pension forfeiture of public employees and officials convicted, pleading guilty or offering no defense to felony offenses related to the public position;

Senate Bill 775 – establishes the PA Museum Preservation Act;

Senate Bill 799 – (47-2) establishes the PA Clean Water Procurement Program to help municipalities and MS4s meet Chesapeake Bay nutrient reduction mandates;

Senate Bill 898 – exempts municipal trucks from state bonding requirements while maintaining municipal roads;

Senate Bill 1015 – improves response times for Special Emergency Response Teams;

Senate Bill 1034 – Congressional Redistricting shell bill;

House Bill 359 – protects hunters mistakenly harvesting an animal who turns themselves into the PA Game Commission and surrenders the animal, to not face a revocation of their hunting license.

Bill Unanimously Passes Senate, Goes to Governor for Further Action

House Bill 1653 – allows distance and online higher education students receive state grants.

Senate Declines to Take Action on Oleksiak Nomination

Senate Republican leaders announced the state Senate will decline to take action on Governor Wolf’s nominee, W. Gerard “Jerry” Oleksiak, to lead the PA Department of Labor & Industry.  The leaders asked for the nomination to be recalled, but the Governor declined.

“The majority of the Senate Republican Caucus expressed serious reservations about the qualifications and abilities of Jerry Oleksiak.  At the same time, we wanted to balance those concerns with the understanding that the Governor should have the ability to establish his own team,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati and Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman in a joint statement.

The move by the Senate is unprecedented.  The Constitution gives the Senate a maximum of 25 legislative days to take action on an Executive Nomination.  Any nomination that remains on the Executive Nomination Calendar and has not been considered by the full Senate by the close of the 25th legislative day will automatically be deemed confirmed.

Waste Management DCED EITC Grants Presented in 48th Senate District

Waste Management presented PA Department of Community and Economic Development Education Improvement Tax Credit Program educational improvement grants to Eastern Lebanon County Education Foundation ($4,000) and Lebanon Cedar Foundation ($5,000).

DCED Pre-Apprentice and Apprenticeship Grant Program

The statewide Pre-Apprentice and Apprenticeship Grant Program offers assistance to registered apprenticeship programs with the goal of increasing apprenticeship availability to PA employers to assist with their talent recruitment and development.  Proposals will be accepted from:  single employers, employer consortiums, workforce development boards, economic development organizations, labor organizations, local career technical education institutions, PA community colleges and community organizations or associations.  Eligible uses of funds are expenses related to instruction that complements on-the-job learning.  Sponsors may request funding for plans not to exceed three years, at $3,000 per apprentice per year.  For further information or to apply, click here.  Questions can be directed to Gwen Ross at or (717) 720-7386.

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