Legislative Update: June 18, 2020

Legislative Update: June 18, 2020

The Senate and House return to legislative session next week. The legislature passed House Resolution 836, which ends Governor Wolf’s COVID-19 disaster declaration. The legislature did not present the resolution to the Governor and Senate Republicans filed a lawsuit asking the Commonwealth Court to force the Governor to end the emergency declaration. The Court expedited the process, mandating the Wolf Administration file a response to the lawsuit by today. In a rare move, Governor Wolf filed a King’s Bench application with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. King’s Bench gives the Pa. Supreme Court the power to take up and hear any case that is pending in a lower court. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania agreed Wednesday to step in and resolve the dispute.

Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) resigned from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives as Speaker on Monday to take a job in the private sector. Turzai has represented the 28th legislative district since 2001. House Leadership elections will take place next week.

Former Speaker Turzai sent a letter to Governor Wolf this week urging a Special Session on Police Reform following the killing of George Floyd by a police officer.

House Bill 1841, sponsored by Rep. Harry Readshaw (D-Allegheny) closes a loophole in current law that allows former employers to withhold information on complaints or disciplinary actions involving an officer out of fear of civil liability. It would require law enforcement agencies to make full disclosure of any current or former officer’s personnel files for hiring background checks without having to fear getting sued for sharing that information with another department looking to hire the officer. It also would create a database of officers who have demonstrated documented patterns of excessive use of force or other misconduct. It would be maintained by the Office of Attorney General and law enforcement agencies would be required to check it before hiring an officer.

The Committee also gutted and voted out Senate Bill 637, sponsored by Senator John DiSanto (R-Dauphin) and replaced it with language from House Bill 1477, sponsored by Representative Sheryl Delozier, (R-Cumberland) which amends Section 9124 of the Criminal History Record Information Act to delineate when a board, commission or department of the Commonwealth may deny the issuance or renewal of an occupational license as a result of a criminal conviction.

The Senate Judiciary and Law and Justice committees held two days of hearings to vet potential public safety reforms it might consider arising out of Floyd’s death and the subsequent protests it has sparked across the nation and world.

The House Aging Committee plans to hold a Committee meeting on Monday to vote on House Bill 1930, sponsored by Rep. Tim Hennessey, (R-Chester) which amends the Older Adults Protective Services Act. PNA is concerned about some of the confidentiality provisions.

The Senate Communications and Technology Committees plans to vote on Senate Bill 835, sponsored by Senator Joe Pittman (R-Indiana), which establishes a grant program to extend deployment of facilities already providing broadband service.

Senator John DiSanto (R-Dauphin), Chairman of the Senate State Government Committee and Representative Jason Ortitay (R-Allegheny) have circulated co-sponsor memos, provide a flexible menu of options for local governments to use in complying with current requirements to advertise and provide public notice in print newspapers. View the Senate and House memos. PNA opposes this concept.