(Editor's Note: The following is a roundup of action scheduled for Harrisburg this week; the information and the political narrative came from the office of Republican Majority Leader Mike Turzai.)
Getting Our Own House in Order
The full House will debate and vote on House Bill 153, sponsored by Speaker of the House Sam Smith (R-Jefferson/Armstrong/Indiana), aimed at reducing the size of the General Assembly. The bill, a constitutional amendment to reduce the size of the state House of Representatives from 203 members to 153, is required to be debated and passed by both the House and Senate in two consecutive sessions and subsequently approved by referendum vote of the people of Pennsylvania.
Improving the Commonwealth Jobs Climate
As state and local governments are trying to cope with less money, House Republicans believe, “the best social program is a good economy.”
The House will continue its focus on improving the state’s economy and jobs climate. (In fact, there will be an EmployPA jobs agenda press conference on Monday, April 2, at 2 p.m. in the Main Rotunda of the Capitol in Harrisburg; it will be streamed live at www.PAHouseGOP.com.)
While Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate was 7.6 percent in February, and is well below the U.S. rate of 8.3 percent (PA has been below the national rate for 46 consecutive months), it is still too high according to House GOP members. The top priority of the House Republican Caucus is to make improvements to the Commonwealth’s jobs climate and lower the cost of doing business in the state.
Republicans are concerned that, according to various economic reports and business groups, the state continues to have one of the highest costs of doing business in the country when combining state and local taxes, fees, regulatory requirements and health care.
Improvements will lead to higher employment and economic growth.
The House will consider legislation to reform the state’s antiquated business tax structure to bring more equity and fairness to all job creators in Pennsylvania. House Bill 2150 (Rep. Dave Reed, R-Indiana) would basically eliminate the so-called Delaware Loophole and implement other necessary reforms to the state’s business tax structure.
By working together, the House Republicans, Senate and Gov. Tom Corbett are moving to change the state’s reputation and throw open Pennsylvania’s doors to job creation and retention.
Stretching Local Dollars for Local Jobs Projects
For decades, the state’s prevailing wage law has stopped basic maintenance or repair projects from being done; it requires taxpayers to pay inflated prices for public projects. These projects include road repairs (including pot holes), roof repairs, or replacing broken tiles in a classroom floor.
Many hundreds of school districts, county commissioners, townships and boroughs have passed resolutions endorsing reforms to be made to the state’s prevailing wage law. The law, created in 1961, has never had its $25,000 threshold increased to match inflation. House Bill 1329 (Rep. Fred Keller, R-Union/Snyder) would simply increase the threshold for which projects must submit to prevailing wage. By increasing the threshold, many smaller but necessary projects could be accomplished throughout the Commonwealth.
The Weekly Schedule
Bill numbers will be used to identify the legislation being considered either in committee or on the House floor. The bills, sponsors and summaries are posted below.
Monday, April 2
FINANCE, 11 a.m., Room G-50, Irvis Office Building
HB 2150 (Rep. Dave Reed, R-Indiana): Regarding the corporate net income tax: amends the definition of taxable income to state that no deduction shall be allowed for an intangible expense or cost paid, accrued or incurred in connection with one or more transactions with an affiliated entity for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2012; provides a schedule to remove the cap on net operating loss deductions; and provides a schedule for decreasing the corporate net income tax rate from 9.99 percent to 6.99 percent over a period of six years beginning in the taxable year 2014.
HB 2230 (Rep. Seth Grove, R-York): Allows counties the option to enact through referendum a 1 percent sales tax at the county level, to be used to reduce the property tax levels in the county’s school districts, and allows political subdivisions to enact a personal income tax or an earned income tax as a replacement for property taxes.
HB 2300 (Rep. Dave Maloney, R-Berks): Constitutional amendment to allow local taxing authorities to exclude from taxation up to 100 percent of the assessed value of the homestead property receiving the exclusion.
COMMERCE, 11:30 a.m., Room 205, Ryan Office Building
HB 1616 (Rep. Gordon Denlinger, R-Lancaster): Creates a new corporation class within the Commonwealth, a Benefit Corporation, which redefines the fiduciary duty of a corporation’s directors, allowing them to take non-financial interests into consideration when making decisions for the corporation.
GAMING OVERSIGHT, Call of the Chair, Room G-50, Irvis Office Building
HB 2003 (Rep. Curt Schroder, R-Chester): Establishes as a first-degree misdemeanor the creation of false records, the presentation of false records, and the intentional destruction of PA Gaming Control Board (PGCB) records by certain persons employed by or appointed to the PGCB. Under the bill, a first offense would be punished by a fine of $75,000-$150,000; subsequent violations will be graded as a second-degree felony, with a fine of $150,000-$300,000.
On Monday, the House will convene at 1 p.m. for legislative business. The members will vote the uncontested calendar and Rule 35 resolutions.
Votes on Second Consideration
HB 153 (Rep. Sam Smith, R-Jefferson/Armstrong/Indiana): Constitutional amendment to reduce the number of districts in the House of Representatives from 203 to 153.
HB 1762 (Rep. Stephen Barrar, R-Chester/Delaware): Establishes standards for emergency towing and for towing rotation lists.
HB 1891 (Rep. Ron Marsico, R-Dauphin): Provides civil immunity to the operator of a commercial bowling center, excepting willful misconduct or gross negligence, when posting notification requirements have been met.
HB 1898 (Rep. Gary Haluska, D-Cambria): Bridge designation: the Sergeant Derek Lee Shanfield Memorial Bridge.
HB 1906 (Rep. Mike Hanna, D-Clinton): Bridge designation: the Clarence Bridge of Freedom for All Veterans.
HB 1908 (Rep. Nicholas Micozzie, R-Delaware): Establishes standards for tow truck operators and towing storage facilities and provides that violations of the act also violate the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law.
HB 1909 (Rep. Will Tallman, R-Adams/York): Provides for the election of a tax collector and the appointment of a treasurer under the First Class Township Code, and permits the township commissioners to appoint the same person to serve in both capacities.
HB 2116 (Rep. Will Tallman): Provides for the transition from elected township treasurers to elected tax collectors in first class townships under the Local Tax Collection Law.
HB 2242 (Rep. Matt Baker, R-Tioga/Bradford): Itemizes $66.78 million to be expended for highway capital budget projects for flood-damaged highways to be financed from revenue from the Motor License Fund.
HB 2243 (Rep. Scott Hutchinson, R-Venango/Butler): Road designations: the Venango County Veterans Highway; the Forest County Veterans Highway; and the Warren County Veterans Highway.
SB 354 (Sen. Mike Folmer, R-Lebanon/Berks/Chester/Dauphin/Lancaster): Prohibits PennDOT or any other Commonwealth agency from participating in either the REAL ID Act of 2005 or any regulations promulgated under the act.
SB 539 (Sen. John Rafferty, R-Berks/Chester/Montgomery): Establishes driving under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances with a minor in the vehicle as a first-degree misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine, with increased penalties for subsequent violations.
SB 817 (Sen. Lisa Baker, R-Pike/Wayne/Wyoming/Luzerne/Monroe/Susquehanna): Requires that restraints be removed from a child during a juvenile court hearing, with enumerated exceptions, and requires that the child be afforded an opportunity to be heard on the question of restraint and, if restraints are ordered, a statement of reasons must be provided by the court before the restraints are used.
Votes on Third Consideration
HB 1329 (Rep. Fred Keller, R-Union/Snyder): Raises the threshold for the Prevailing Wage Act from $25,000 to $185,000 and establishes an annual inflation adjustment.
HB 1701 (Rep. Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster): Creates the State Geospatial Coordinating Council and establishes the Pennsylvania Mapping and Geospatial Technologies Fund in the State Treasury.
HB 1751 (Rep. Deberah Kula, D-Fayette/Westmoreland): Road designation: the POW/MIA/KIA Memorial Highway.
HB 1916 (Rep. Dave Millard, R-Columbia): Authorizes a county-by-county list of flood control and hazard mitigation projects that could be funded through the Capital Budget Act.
HB 2077 (Rep. Kurt Masser, R-Montour/Columbia/Northumberland): Establishes the Small Business Flood Relief Supplementation Act of 2011 to provide financial assistance to small businesses impacted by the flooding that resulted from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.
SB 405 (Sen. Pat Browne, R-Lehigh/Monroe/Northampton): Limits a local taxing authority's ability to levy a mercantile or business privilege tax to when the privilege of doing business is exercised through a base of operations in the local taxing jurisdiction and specifies that no jurisdiction may charge this tax when the tax is levied by another jurisdiction.
Tuesday, April 3
AGING AND OLDER ADULT SERVICES, 9:30 a.m., Room B-31, Main Capitol Building
Informational meeting with the Secretary of Aging, the Secretary of Revenue, and the Lottery Director to discuss the PA Lottery.
LABOR AND INDUSTRY, 9:30 a.m., Room 60, East Wing
SB 1141 (Sen. Charles McIlhinney, R-Bucks/Montgomery): Defines “relocated manufactured home” and requires the Department of Community and Economic Development to promulgate regulations regarding installation and safety requirements for relocated manufactured homes.
TOURISM AND RECREATIONAL DEVELOPMENT, 9:30 a.m., Room 39, East Wing
Informational meeting to hear a presentation from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.
STATE GOVERNMENT, 10 a.m., Room 205, Ryan Office Building
HR 49 (Rep. RoseMarie Swanger, R-Lebanon): Resolution re-affirming Pennsylvania’s sovereignty under the 10th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
JUDICIARY, 10 a.m., Room G-50, Irvis Office Building
HB 1521 (Rep. Kate Harper, R-Montgomery): Establishes the possession of a vehicle with false compartments with the intent to utilize the compartments for illegal purposes as a misdemeanor of the first degree; establishes the design and construction of such a vehicle compartment as a second-degree misdemeanor; and provides for license suspension upon conviction and forfeiture of the vehicle.
HB 2285 (Rep. Sheryl Delozier, R-Cumberland): Increases the threshold for court approval of a custodial account of a minor from $25,000 to $50,000.
HB 1015 (Rep. Scott Perry, R-Cumberland/York): Establishes the possession of a tobacco product by a minor as a summary offense, punishable by up to 75 hours of community service, completion of a tobacco use prevention/cessation program, a fine of up to $200, and/or a 30-day suspension of driving privileges.
SB 775 (Sen. Dominic Pileggi, R-Chester/Delaware): Comprehensive reform regarding the collection, analysis, and use of DNA samples in the PA State Police DNA identification system that includes expanding the list of eligible criminal offenses for which DNA testing is required and requiring the immediate expungement of the DNA records of exonerated individuals.
HEALTH, Call of the Chair, Room G-50, Irvis Office Building
HB 1948 (Rep. Tim Krieger, R-Westmoreland): Creates the Electronic Benefits Transfer Card Management Program within the Department of Public Welfare to promulgate rules and regulations regarding acceptable purchases and to establish oversight in order to ensure proper use of the benefit program.
HR 523 (Rep. Karen Boback, R-Columbia/Luzerne/Wyoming): Memorializes the Congress of the United States in its health care reform decisions to apply the American Cancer Society's guidelines for prostate cancer screening.
On Tuesday the House will meet at 11 a.m. for legislative business.
Votes on Second Consideration
HB 1588 (Rep. Dan Moul, R-Adams/Franklin): Allows Adams County to impose a maximum hotel room tax of 5 percent and provides for the distribution of revenue.
HB 1749 (Rep. Edward Staback, D-Lackawanna/Wayne): Allows Lackawanna County to impose a maximum hotel room tax of 7 percent and alters the allocation of the tax revenue to provide at least 40 percent to the county’s designated tourist promotion agency and not more than 60 percent to the county.
HB 1478 (Rep. Curt Sonney, R-Erie): Allows Erie County to impose a maximum hotel room tax of 7 percent.
HB 1839 (Rep. Rick Mirabito, D-Lycoming): Bridge re-designation: the Lance Corporal Abram Howard Memorial Bridge.
HB 2244 (Rep. Sandra Major, R-Susquehanna/Wayne/Wyoming): Creates the Watershed Disaster Reconstruction Act of 2012 to allocate $1.3 million to the governor for payment of the Commonwealth’s share necessary to secure federal funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service for stream restoration.
SB 375 (Sen. Dominic Pileggi, R-Chester/Delaware): Prohibits municipal authorities from making financial expenditures for any purpose other than a service or project directly related to the mission of the authority and establishes a cause of action in the court of common pleas for any ratepayer to the authority.
HR 223 (Rep. Dan Truitt, R-Chester): Urges the U.S. Congress to reexamine the Federal Unemployment Tax Act as it relates to corporate officers.
Votes on Third Consideration
HB 3 (Rep. Rick Geist, R-Blair)
HB 153 (Rep. Sam Smith)
HB 1762 (Rep. Stephen Barrar)
HB 1891 (Rep. Ron Marsico)
HB 1898 (Rep. Gary Haluska)
HB 1906 (Rep. Mike Hanna)
HB 1908 (Rep. Nicholas Micozzie)
HB 1909 (Rep. Will Tallman)
HB 2116 (Rep. Will Tallman)
HB 2242 (Rep. Matt Baker)
HB 2243 (Rep. Scott Hutchinson)
SB 354 (Sen. Mike Folmer)
SB 539 (Sen. John Rafferty)
SB 817 (Sen. Lisa Baker)
Wednesday, April 4
TOURISM AND RECREATIONAL DEVELOPMENT, 9 a.m., Room B-31, Main Capitol Buildin
Public hearing on HB 2056 (Rep. Jerry Stern, R-Blair): Creates the Pennsylvania Tourism Commission as an independent state agency.
STATE GOVERNMENT, 9:30 a.m., Room G-50, Irvis Office Building
Informational meeting to hear presentations regarding the State Employees’ Retirement System and the Public School Employees’ Retirement System.
ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCES AND ENERGY and FINANCE, 10 a.m., Room 205, Ryan Office Building
Joint informational meeting to gain a perspective on the impact small streams may have in contributing to flooding conditions in the Commonwealth.
VETERANS AFFAIRS AND EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS, 10 a.m., Room 60, East Wing
HR 542 (Rep. Matthew Smith, D-Allegheny): Endorses the construction of an underground learning facility at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
HB 2168 (Rep. Nicholas Miccarelli, R-Delaware): Increases the active duty pay for PA National Guard personnel from $75 per day to $100 per day.
HB 2199 (Rep. Todd Stephens, R-Montgomery): Establishes driving past, around, or through a sign or traffic control device closing a road or highway due to either existing or potential hazardous conditions as a summary offense, punishable by not more than $500 if emergency response vehicles are utilized during the violation or the suspension of driving privileges if the vehicle becomes disabled.
PROFESSIONAL LICENSURE, 10:30 a.m., Room 39, East Wing
SB 342 (Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, R-Bucks/Montgomery): Increases the per diem allowance for members of the State Board of Occupational Therapy from $30 to $60; requires occupational therapists to maintain $1 million in professional liability insurance; and creates an impaired professionals program.
Reg. 16A-4933: Expands the State Board of Medicine’s regulations relating to prescribing, administering and dispensing controlled substances to include butalbital, carisoprodol, and tramadol hydrochloride and agents in which these drugs are an active ingredient.
On Wednesday the House will meet at 11 a.m. for legislative business.
Votes on Second Consideration
HB 2150 (Rep. Dave Reed)
Votes on Third Consideration
HB 1588 (Rep. Dan Moul)
HB 1749 (Rep. Edward Staback)
HB 1478 (Rep. Curt Sonney)
HB 1839 (Rep. Rick Mirabito)
HB 2244 (Rep. Sandra Major)
SB 375 (Sen. Dominic Pileggi)