Legislative Update: May 13, 2021

Legislative Update: May 13, 2021

The Senate was in session this week; the House was last in session the week of May 3rd . Both chambers reconvene May 24.

Urgent: Hearing on public notices May 26

The state House Local Government Committee has scheduled a hearing May 26 on a legislative proposal to remove the requirement for public notices to appear in print newspapers. PNA and a member newspaper will testify in opposition to HB 955, legislation that is supported by the PA School Boards Association, County Commissioners Association of PA, PA State Association of Township Supervisors, PA State Association of Boroughs, PA Municipal League, PA Municipal Authorities Association and PA State Association of Township Commissioners. Please read and respond as soon as possible to the PNA Member Alert you receive today.

PNA is meeting with every member of the House Local Government Committee. This is only the first step in the legislative process to see if the Committee has enough support to vote for the bill. We will keep you apprised of developments. Thank you in advance for your assistance on this critical issue.


Rep. Grove releases election report

On Monday, House State Government Committee Chairman Seth Grove (R-York) released a 98-page report on the committee’s hearings regarding the Pennsylvania election process and its 84-year-old election law.

“Through expert testimony, we found numerous flaws within Pennsylvania’s election code and with its implementation. This report will lead to comprehensive legislative fixes to the numerous systemic problems, which have led many voters to distrust election results,’’ Grove said in a press release. “Elections must be held to the highest integrity while also being accessible to all legal voters.”

Ten hearings ran from January through April, the committee receiving testimony from more than 50 election experts and local and state election officials, including those from other states. The committee review was the starting point for new legislation directed at the election process.

The Wolf administration did not comment in an article that appeared Monday on Inquirer.com. But last week the governor’s chief of staff, Mike Brunelle, indicated to The Associated Press that while Wolf would discuss legislation updating election law he would not support changes to the current state voter ID law.


Legislation follow-up

On Monday, the following bills were among the legislation that moved out of the Senate State Government Committee and on to the full Senate:

  • SB 559, which was approved with a technical amendment. The bill, sponsored by Sen. David Argall (R-Schuylkill/Berks), provides greater access to public records during a disaster declaration, specifically those related to wasted vaccines that had previously been denied through reliance on the 1955 Disease Prevention and Control Act.
  • HB 854, sponsored by Rep. Torren Ecker (R-Adams/Cumberland), which provides for COVID-19 record retention, and was approved by the committee without amendment. The House passed the bill in April.


Bill to shine light on constitutional amendment process

State Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York) announced in a co-sponsor memo May 7 that she will introduce legislation requiring the Department of State to post on its website all actions taken to comply with the rules of the constitutional amendment process. This and related legislation come in the wake of the department’s failure to advertise a proposed constitutional amendment giving survivors of child sexual abuse additional time to file civil claims. There is now a two-year delay before this measure can come before the voters.


Voter ID legislation

State Sens. Judy Ward (R-Blair) and Doug Mastriano (R-Adams) announced Tuesday in a co-sponsor memo that they will introduce legislation to the state Constitution that will require voters to provide valid identification in order to vote in an election. If approved in two consecutive legislative sessions, the measure would place a proposed amendment on the 2023 ballot asking voters if IDs should be required at every election.


Education waiver program

A bill that amends the Public School Code by providing for a mandate waiver program was voted out of the Senate Education Committee on Monday without amendment. Sponsored by state Sen. Wayne Langerholc (R-Cambria), SB 73 permits a school board to apply to the Department of Education for waivers in areas that will improve instructional programs or result in more effective, efficient school operations. Publication of notices and proofs of publication are among the Public School Code sections prohibited from inclusion in the waiver program.


Privacy for vaccine registrants

Introduced Monday, HB 1380 would require a COVID-19 vaccine provider to delete the personal information of individuals who registered for a shot from the provider but did not receive the vaccine within six months of the registration. Providers can retain the personal information if the vaccine was distributed or administered to the individual or if he or she received other health care services within six months of the vaccine registration. The bill is sponsored by state Rep. Nick Pisciottano (D-Allegheny).