After a hiatus of nearly three months, the House of Representatives and Senate were back in session this week to continue the 2021-2022 legislative session.
On Monday, the House Professional Licensure Committee held a briefing to discuss pharmacy-related regulatory waivers and suspensions issued by the State Department during the COVID-19 pandemic. The committee then held a voting meeting and reported on SB 397 (Pittman, R-Indiana), which would amend the provisions of the Osteopathic Medical Practice Act relating to medical assistants, and SB 398 (Pittman, R-Indiana ), which would amend the Physician Assistant Provisions of the Practice Act.
On Tuesday, the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Affairs held a public hearing on large-scale solar development and agricultural land. In addition, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee held a public hearing on SB 749 (Mensch, R-Montgomery), which would provide more clarity to employees and employers regarding the use of marijuana for the purposes of medical in the workplace.
The Senate Appropriations Committee reported on SB 153 (Langerholc, R-Cambria), which would increase the maximum gross weight allowed for utility vehicles powered by electric batteries. In addition, the Senate Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensing reported HB 245 (Kaufer, R-Luzerne), which would reduce the graduate medical education required for international medical graduates from three to two years. SB 869 (Tomlinson, R-Bucks) has also been reported. The bill would allow licensing boards and commissions of the Office of Professional and Professional Affairs to continue to use virtual public board meetings on an ongoing basis, give licensees the opportunity to receive virtual continuing education, and allow some people who need clinical or supervision hours to qualify to be supervised virtually.
In the Senate, two bills were finally passed and will be submitted to the House for consideration: SB 302 (Yaw, R-Lycoming), which would restrict the use of Class B fire-fighting foam containing per- and polyfluoroalkyls (PFAS) for training; and SB 461 (Baker, R-Luzerne), which would require Senate confirmation from the director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency.
Wednesday was the last session day of the week, but the busiest. To begin with, the Senate Committee on Community, Economic and Recreational Development reported on SB 706 (Robinson, R-Allegheny), which would establish the Max Manufacturing Initiative Act to utilize natural gas resources and establish partnerships between private entities and public universities.
The Senate Transport Committee held a public hearing with the Turnpike Commission to discuss the unpaid tolls. The committee then held a voting meeting and introduced two pieces of legislation affecting the school bus industry: SR 172 (Langerholc, R-Cambria), which urges the federal government to take action to address the driver shortage nationwide school buses; and SB 859 (Langerholc, R-Cambria), which would extend temporary regulations for the school bus stop arm camera application program.
The House Education Committee reported HB 1254 (DelRosso, R-Allegheny, which would require that a school district that does not provide full-time in-person instruction to establish a Finally Scholarship program for voting meetings, the Senate Committee on Aging and Youth reported on HB 1082 (DelRosso, R-Allegheny), which would establish an education program for providers on early diagnosis of dementia and incorporate information about the disease in existing public health awareness programs.
There were two public hearings of note starting Wednesday. First, the Senate Communications and Technology Committee held a hearing to discuss state and national perspectives on consolidating state computer systems. Second, the Senate Education Committee and the Senate Labor and Industry Committee held a joint public hearing on the importance of adult education as part of the workforce development system. .
The Senate unanimously passed SB 709 (Tomlinson, R-Bucks), which would raise awareness of cytomegalovirus (CMV) and allow CMV screening for some newborns. The bill will not be considered by the House.
In the House, the following bills were finally passed and submitted to the Senate for consideration:
- HB 1660 (Sonney, R-Erie), which would allow a school board to implement temporary emergency arrangements when an emergency results in five consecutive days of inability to provide in-person instruction;
- HB 1774 (Flood, R-Northampton), which would extend the expiration of the Achieving Better Care by Monitoring All Prescription Program (ABC-MAP) law from June 30, 2022 to December 31, 2028; and
- HB 1861 (Lewis, R-Dauphin), which would require final reports to be issued by each authority that initially authorized an extended stay of regulatory law, no later than November 1, 2021.
The Senate held two public hearings on Thursday. The Senate Education Committee held a public hearing on the impact of Department of Health orders on children and schools. In addition, the Senate State Government Committee held a public hearing on SB 878 (Argall, R-Schuylkill), which would implement the recommendations of the Special Senate Committee on Election Integrity and Reform.
The coming week
Both chambers are back in Harrisburg next week for a three-day session.
On Monday, the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee will hold a briefing on PJM’s Minimum Bid Price Rule (MOPR) proposal and keep energy markets competitive and reliable. The Senate Transport Committee will also be holding a public hearing, focusing on vehicle emissions and electrification.
The House State Government Committee will consider three bills:
- HB 1800 (Grove, R-York), which would make numerous changes to state electoral law;
- HB 1893 (Staats, R-Bucks), which would state that all disease information under the Disease Prevention and Control Act 1955 is under the Right to Know Act; and
- SB 533 (Yaw, R-Lycoming), which would prohibit the review or adoption of disaster emergency regulations, except in certain circumstances.
On Tuesday, the House Aging and Older Adult Services Committee will review HB 291 (Labs, R-Bucks) and SB 323 (Ward, R-Blair), which would extend the COLA Social Security moratorium until December 31, 2023. The committee will vote also on: HB 1260 (Thomas, R-Bucks), which would modernize income ceilings to allow more seniors to benefit from the PACE and PACENET programs; and SB 668 (Ward, R-Blair), which would expand PACENET eligibility, eliminate monthly premiums for PACENET applicants, and give the Department of Human Services discretion to enroll PACENET applicants in a Medicare Part D plan.
Next, the House Education Committee has four bills on its agenda:
- HB 1332 (Lewis, R-Dauphin), which would require school districts to post on their websites the actual curriculum that will be taught for each grade and subject;
- HB 1642 (White, R-Philadelphia), which would make changes to the economically disadvantaged schools program, which is part of the EITC and OSTC program;
- HB 1685 (Topper, R-Bedford), which is a comprehensive charter school reform bill; and
- HB 1892 (Sonney, R-Erie), which would ensure that payments owed to a charter school are accurate and update the process used to reconcile payments owed to a charter school to school districts, including resolving any litigation that could arise.
The Senate Committee on Environmental Resources and Energy will consider three bills:
- SB 525 (Gordner, R-Columbia), which would establish the Growing Greener III program using $ 500 million from the US bailout;
- SB 806 (Yaw, R-Lycoming), which would require entities making natural gas royalty payments to landowners to provide more description, clarity and consistency on their royalty statements; and
- SB 832 (Yaw, R-Lycoming), which would establish a Clean Streams Fund used to protect and restore streams and rivers in Pennsylvania.
On Wednesday, the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee will consider SB 251 (Yaw, R-Lycoming), which would set standards for the application of fertilizer to turf, include labels and labeling, as well than the disposition of funds. Additionally, the House Local Government Committee will review HB 527 (Cox, R-Berks), which would require a municipality to hold at least one public meeting before finalizing a deal to sell or lease a sewer or water system, and HB 1628 (Freeman, D-Northampton), which would give municipalities more power to regulate the use of fireworks.
To end the week, Thursday, the House Transportation Committee will hold a public hearing on PennDOT’s Major Bridge P3 program.
The full list of committee meetings is available here:
In other news
- Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam has signed an order to ensure vaccine suppliers are ready to begin COVID-19 booster shots as soon as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issues the guidelines federal requirements.
- Governor Tom Wolf announced the Pennsylvania Climate Action Plan 2021 and called for statewide action on climate change by all sectors: legislative, government, industry, business, agriculture and community organizations.
- PennDOT has announced the launch of a public comment period for the proposed Long Distance Transportation Plan (LRTP) 2045 and Cargo Movement Plan (FMP). The plans represent a multimodal approach to improving mobility, security, equity, resilience and sustainability for the movement of people and goods across the Commonwealth.
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