Legislative Update: June 17, 2021

Legislative Update: June 17, 2021

The House and the Senate were in session this week. Both chambers reconvene June 21 and are scheduled to be in voting session every day as the legislature attempts to get the Fiscal Year 2021-22 state budget completed by next Saturday. The current fiscal year ends on June 30, with FY 2021-22 to begin on July 1. The Senate passed SB 255, sponsored by Appropriations Chairman, Pat Browne (R-Lehigh) a general appropriations bill on Wednesday. The planned vehicle for the state budget’s Fiscal Code was sent to the Senate on Wednesday. HB 1348, sponsored by Appropriations Chairman Stan Saylor (R-York), is tapped to become the annual measure that directs how appropriated General Fund revenues are spent. A potential Tax Reform Code budget-related vehicle is on its way to the Senate, with the House lawmakers approving HB 1006, sponsored by Rep. Carl Metzgar (R-Somerset) Wednesday.

Bill: Expand personal info confidentiality for public safety officials

A bill that would prohibit the publishing or sharing with a third party the home address or phone number of an expanded list of public safety officials and their families was introduced June 11 by Rep. Frank Farry (R-Bucks) and was approved by the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee on Monday. HB 1546 applies to those who provide personal information, knowing the official’s occupation, and that a third party is seeking it because of that occupation and with the intent of causing harm to the official, a spouse or child. Additionally, the legislation prohibits any person, business or association from soliciting, selling or trading via the internet the home address or telephone number of a public safety official or any person residing at his or her residence. The bill provides for penalties and right of action for public safety officials regarding violations. PNA seeks further clarification on the bill.

PNA weighs in on voting-related bills

HB 1300, or the Voting Rights Protection Act introduced last week by House State Government Committee Chairman Seth Grove (R-York), would be a significant overhaul of the state election system. HB 1477, sponsored by Rep. Frank Ryan (R-Lebanon), would provide for county voting system audits. PNA has offered amendatory language on both bills.

Coroner, voter ID bills advance

The following legislation was approved Tuesday by the Senate State Government Committee and moves to the full Senate:

  • SB 327, sponsored by Sen. Judy Ward (R-Blair), which passed with amendatory language offered by PNA. The legislation seeks to clarify that all deaths in a county related to a health disaster disease or pandemic be referred to the county coroner for investigation. PNA provided language which retains the information our members currently receive pursuant to the Right-to-Know Law and County Code.
  • A joint resolution also sponsored by Sen. Ward, SB 735, which asks voters to decide if the Pennsylvania Constitution should be amended to require government-issued identification each time a voter casts a ballot. The language must be passed in two consecutive legislative sessions; the earliest a proposed amendment would reach voters for consideration would be May 2023.

Senate considers high-speed internet bill

The House Consumer Affairs Committee advanced to the full House on Tuesday legislation sponsored by Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York) that would address challenges with expanding access to high-speed internet in unserved and underserved areas in the state. Under SB 442, the Department of General Services would be required to conduct a wide-ranging inventory of all state-owned properties for the use of deploying high-speed internet. The bill would also encourage, but not mandate, counties to conduct their own inventories. The bill passed the Senate on May 25.

Victims’ rights bill

SB 708, sponsored by Sen. Camera Bartolotta (R-Beaver/Greene/Washington), was approved Tuesday by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The legislation updates definitions in the Crime Victims Act, helps streamline the victim compensation process, and seeks to ensure victims receive the help they need and know their right to be enrolled into the Address Confidentiality Program. The bill was passed by the committee with PNA amendatory language, which allows for our members to continue to have access to financial records and aggregated data from the Office of Victim Advocate.

Former Gov. Ridge hospitalized after stroke

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge suffered a stroke Wednesday at his Bethesda, Maryland, home, according to The Associated Press. He was taken to a hospital and underwent a procedure to remove a blood clot, Ridge spokesman Steve Aaron told the AP. He said Ridge was in critical but stable condition. Ridge, 75, was the state’s Republican governor from 1995 to 2001, joining the administration of President George W. Bush in the aftermath of 9/11 to become the country’s first Department of Homeland Security secretary.