Legislative Update – July 22, 2021

Legislative Update – July 22, 2021

The Legislature is on summer recess. The Senate plans to reconvene Sept. 20, the House on Sept. 27.


Congressional redistricting hearings

Today the House State Government Committee launched a series of public hearings on congressional redistricting; they are expected to run through Oct. 13. Today’s hearings included an overview of the redistricting process as well as testimony from stakeholders. Video of the morning and afternoon sessions will be available here. The next hearing is scheduled for Aug. 24 in the northwest part of the state. For more information, visit www.paredistricting.com.


Hearings examine $340M in state emergency procurements

At a hearing Tuesday, the Pennsylvania House State Government Committee took a closer look at the more than $340 million in estimated emergency procurement costs incurred during the pandemic The figure was up from an annual average of $81 million, according to a Spotlight PA report on the state emergency procurement process. The hearing, led by Government Operations Subcommittee Chairman Jason Ortitay (R-Allegheny) and held in the wake of a data breach with a vendor hired to administer the state contact tracing program, examined whether state agencies had too much authority in securing emergency no-bid contracts. Testifiers included state Department of General Services Secretary Curt Topper, state Department of Health Executive Deputy Secretary Keara Klinepeter, and representatives from the Levin Center at Wayne Law in Detroit, Michigan. Similarly, the Senate Communications and Technology Committee and Senate Health and Human Services Committee held a joint hearing Wednesday on the Department of Health’s emergency procurement of a contact tracing vendor.


State election reform: Part 2

Rep. Seth Grove (R-York), chair of the House State Government Committee, announced Wednesday in a co-sponsor memo that he plans to re-introduce HB 1300. The state election reform bill passed by both chambers of the General Assembly in the days immediately preceding the summer recess was vetoed by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf. In the memo, Grove cited a Philadelphia Inquirer article this week that reported the governor is open to stricter voter ID rules, which he previously opposed.


Legislation would limit secretary of health powers

Rep. Ryan Warner (R-Fayette/Westmoreland) announced in a co-sponsor memo Friday that he will introduce a joint resolution amending Article IV of the Pennsylvania Constitution to limit the powers of the state secretary of health. Specifically, it would prohibit the secretary from ordering closures of businesses and other entities and prohibit him/her from mandating quarantines and other public-health measures during a public health crisis. Such decisions, according to Warner, should be made by the Legislature.


Bill to offer broadband support

On Monday, Rep. Pam Snyder (D-Greene/Fayette/Washington) announced in a co-sponsor memo she will propose legislation to use $500 million in American Rescue Plan funds to expand broadband internet grants throughout Pennsylvania. Her proposal to funnel aid to the Unserved High-Speed Broadband Funding Program follows last week’s co-sponsor memo from Rep. Martin Causer (R-McKean/Cameron/Potter), who wants to appropriate $100 million in federal COVID-19 assistance funds to the same program.


Bill seeks greater EITC transparency

Rep. Christopher Rabb (D-Philadelphia) introduced HB 1730 on Tuesday. The bill is designed to make the Educational Improvement and Opportunity Scholarship tax credit programs more accountable, transparent and equitable.