Capital Reports

Legislative and Executive Action for Week of July 20

By John L. Kennedy |

Following is a listing of legislative and executive action for the week of July 20. Members of the General Assembly are scheduled to return to action Sept. 21.

Budget Discussions Carry on in Harrisburg

By John L. Kennedy |

For the first time, Republican legislative leaders and Gov. Tom Wolf said a budget meeting, held last Tuesday, was productive.

Top Lawmakers Ask AG to Investigate Planned Parenthood

By John L. Kennedy |

In a letter, the top two state lawmakers asked Attorney General Kathleen Kane to investigate Planned Parenthood given the release of a video showing the group's medical director discussing procedures for providing researchers with the body parts of aborted fetuses.

Legislative and Executive Action for Week of July 13

By John L. Kennedy |

Following is a listing of legislative and executive action for the week of July 13. Members of the House of Representatives were set to return to session July 20; members of the Senate are scheduled to return Sept. 21.

Budget Standoff Continues in Harrisburg

By John L. Kennedy |

Two weeks into the budget standoff in Harrisburg, Republican legislative leaders and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf are resorting to public accusations as to the motivations of the other side.

Legislation Targeting Local Gun Ordinances Coming Back

By John L. Kennedy |

Legislation permitting legal action against local governments that approve gun-control ordinances stricter than state law will be back after the Commonwealth Court last month ruled the law unconstitutional.

Executive and Legislative Action for Week of July 6

By John L. Kennedy |

Following is a listing of executive and legislative action for the week of July 6. Senate members were set to return to session Monday. House members are at the call of the chair.

Wolf, GOP Leaders Continue to Wrangle Over Budget

By John L. Kennedy |

In some ways, the Republican-controlled General Assembly and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf are no closer to a budget agreement than when the governor first unveiled his spending plan in early March.

More Local Pension Plans Eyed by Auditor General

By John L. Kennedy |

Eddystone Borough and Nether Providence Township, both in Delaware County, are the two most recent examples of local pension systems gone awry. Auditor General Eugene DePasquale used the two in his now almost monthly plea for the General Assembly to act to avert a full-blown financial crisis on the local government level.

Executive and Legislative Action for Week of June 29

By John L. Kennedy |

Following is a listing of executive and legislative action for the week of June 29. Members of the General Assembly will return when called back by legislative leaders.

Budget Negotiations Begin, Again

By John L. Kennedy |

Gov. Tom Wolf followed through on his promise when last week he vetoed the entire state budget approved by the General Assembly just a day before the end of the fiscal year.

General Assembly Approves Liquor Privatization Bill

For the first time ever, both the state House of Representatives and Senate last week approved legislation that would start to get the state out of the liquor and wine business. Gov. Tom Wolf is expected to veto the bill, but Republican lawmakers will continue to push for some level of liquor privatization as budget talks continue.

Executive and Regulatory Action for Week of June 22

By John L. Kennedy |

Following is a listing of executive and regulatory action for the week of June 22. Members of the General Assembly were scheduled to return to session June 29.

Senate Panel OKs Liability Limit for Gas Drillers

By John L. Kennedy |

Legislation that would limit liability for oil and natural gas drillers using coal mine water that has been treated cleared the state Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee.

Public Contract Cost-Analysis Bill Approved by House Cmte.

By John L. Kennedy |

Legislation that would require a state fiscal office to determine the cost of public-sector contracts before they take effect cleared the state House of Representatives State Government Committee. The bill, SB 644, has already won approval in the state Senate.

Executive and Legislative Activity for Week of June 15

By John L. Kennedy |

Following is a listing of executive and legislative activity for the week of June 15. Members of the General Assembly were scheduled to return to session June 22.

Budget Negotiators in Harrisburg Agree on Size of Deficit

By John L. Kennedy |

Just agreeing on the size of the deficit for the next fiscal year is progress in budget negotiations between the Republican-controlled General Assembly and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf.

Two Ex-Governors Advocate Merit Selection Bill

By John L. Kennedy |

Proponents of establishing a merit selection system for judges at the appellate level are trying yet again to get a bill through the General Assembly—twice, since it would amend the state Constitution.

Executive and Legislative Action for Week of June 8

By John L. Kennedy |

Following is a listing of executive and legislative action for the week of June 8. Members of the General Assembly were scheduled to return to session June 15.

Severance Tax on Drilling Takes Setback

By John L. Kennedy |

Another one of Gov. Tom Wolf's budget items, a tax on shale drilling, has seemingly been shot down by Republican lawmakers.

Local Government Pension Reform Advances

By John L. Kennedy |

The public pension crisis on the state level receives most of the attention, but pensions in some municipalities are likewise drowning in debt, and last week the state House of Representatives State Government Committee moved a bill that would change the pension system for all future hires of local police and fire departments.

Legislative and Executive Action for Week of June 1

By John L. Kennedy |

Following is a listing of legislative and executive action for the week of June 1. Members of the General Assembly were set to return to session June 8.

Committee-Approved Bill Would Cap Nursing Home Punitives

By John L. Kennedy |

A punitive damages cap of 200 percent of the compensatory damages awarded in a lawsuit against personal care facilities would apply under SB 747, approved by the state Senate Banking and Insurance Committee last week.

Budget Negotiations Turn Serious After House Floor 'Stunt'

By John L. Kennedy |

Gov. Tom Wolf's budget proposal took a beating on the state House of Representatives floor last week, with no lawmakers voting for the plan.

Legislative and Executive Action for Week of May 26, 2015

By John L. Kennedy |

Following is a listing of legislative and executive action for the week of May 26. Members of the General Assembly were scheduled to return to session June 1.

Legislators Return for Potentially Protracted Budget Season

By John L. Kennedy |

State lawmakers returned to Harrisburg this week after a two-week break and, if some predictions are right, might not get another break from session for another couple of months. They face a June 30 deadline for the approval of a spending plan for the 2015-16 fiscal year that starts July 1, but most observers contacted said they expect the negotiation process to go well beyond that date.

Wolf Creates Natural Gas Pipeline Task Force

By John L. Kennedy |

Pennsylvania is missing an even bigger opportunity for a return on Marcellus Shale drilling due to an inadequate system of pipelines, business officials have repeatedly said.

Harrisburg Capitol Building

Legislative, Executive Action for Week of May 17, 2015

By John L. Kennedy |

Following is a listing of legislative and executive action for the week of May 17. Members of the General Assembly are scheduled to return to session June 1.

Harrisburg Capitol Building

Municipal Pensions in Crisis, Auditor General Says

By John L. Kennedy |

Pennsylvania's two state-level pension systems, the State Employees' Retirement System and the Public School Employees' Retirement System, are enormously underfunded and starting to strain the state budget, according to Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, whose office in January updated the status of municipal pension systems.

Harrisburg Capitol Building

Wolf, Business Groups Trade Barbs Over Drilling Tax

By John L. Kennedy |

It started with a letter to lawmakers from a coalition of natural gas drilling interests and broader business associations. The letter said Gov. Tom Wolf's plan to impose an extraction tax on natural drilling in the Marcellus Shale would "set the commonwealth back instead of allowing the state to grow its economy, jobs and provide Pennsylvanians with lower energy bills."

Legislative Action for Week of May 11

By John L. Kennedy |

Following is a listing of legislative action for the week of May 11. Members of the General Assebmly are set to return to session June 1.

Pension Reform Bill Sets Stage for Budget Fight

By John L. Kennedy |

Last week, the state Senate approved public pension reform legislation, SB 1, with a 28-19 vote, setting the stage for what is virtually unanimously expected to be a contentious budget battle between the General Assembly and Gov. Tom Wolf.

Senate Approves Measure to Legalize Medical Marijuana Use

By John L. Kennedy |

Legislation that would legalize the use of marijuana to treat certain medical conditions cleared the state Senate last week and is now before the state House of Representatives. A spokesman for the House Republican Caucus said there is no timetable for considering the bill.

Harrisburg Capitol Building

Executive and Legislative Action for Week of May 11, 2015

By John L. Kennedy |

Following is a listing of executive and legislative action for the week of May 4. Members of the General Assembly were scheduled to return to session May 11.

Harrisburg Capitol Building

Anti-SLAPP Legislation Clears Senate Committee

By John L. Kennedy |

Legislation is before the full state Senate that would expand immunity from strategic lawsuits against public participation, known as SLAPP suits, after the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill with a 13-0 vote.

Harrisburg Capitol Building

Upper House Expected to Vote Soon on Medical Marijuana

By John L. Kennedy |

The state Senate is expected to vote, possibly as early as this week, on a medical marijuana bill, after its approval by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Legislative, Executive and Judicial Branch Action for Week of April 27

By John L. Kennedy |

Following is a listing of legislative, executive and judicial branch action for the week of April 27. Members of the General Assembly were scheduled to return to session May 4.

Fiscal Office: Everyone Would Pay More Under Wolf Proposal

By John L. Kennedy |

Pennsylvania's Independent Fiscal Office released a report that broke down Gov. Tom Wolf's tax proposals along six income groups. The net result, the IFO said, is that everyone would pay more.

Transition From Healthy PA to Medicaid Moves Forward

By John L. Kennedy |

The Wolf administration announced the transition of 121,234 people from Healthy PA, established by Gov. Tom Corbett, to a Medicaid expansion plan called HealthChoices.

Executive and Legislative Action for Week of April 20

By John L. Kennedy |

Following is a listing of executive and legislative action for the week of April 20. Members of the General Assembly are scheduled to return to session May 4.

Bills Would Make Government Negotiations More Public

By John L. Kennedy |

Negotiations between government and school district officials and public-sector unions would be open to the public and would face more scrutiny under three bills approved along party lines by the Senate State Government Committee.

House Approves Bill to Strike Harassment Carve-out

By John L. Kennedy |

The carve-out in the Crimes Code that allows stalking, harassment and even threats with weapons of mass destruction during labor disputes would be eliminated under legislation that has cleared the state House of Representatives.

Legislative Action for Week of April 13

By John L. Kennedy |

Following is a listing of legislative action for the week of April 13. Members of the General Assembly were scheduled to return to session April 20.

Senate Approves DNA 'Modernization'

By John L. Kennedy |

Last week, the state Senate Judiciary Committee approved legislation that the bill's sponsor, state Sen. Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware, said would "strengthen and modernize" the state's use of DNA technology to fight violent crime.

Senate Preempts Local Governments on Paid Time Off

By John L. Kennedy |

Legislative and Executive Action for Week of April 6

By John L. Kennedy |

Following is a listing of legislative and executive action for the week of April 6. Members of the General Assembly were scheduled to return to session April 13.

House of Representatives Plans Pension Vote for May

By John L. Kennedy |

The state House of Representatives plans to take up a state pension reform bill in May, Republican Caucus sources said.

Pa. Handling of U.S. Housing Programs Set for State Audit

By John L. Kennedy |

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale announced that his department will conduct a comprehensive performance audit to evaluate the Department of Community and Economic Development's administration of federally funded homelessness prevention and rehousing programs.

Executive and Legislative Action for Week of March 30

By John L. Kennedy |

Following is a listing of executive and legislative action for the week of March 30. Members of the General Assembly are scheduled to return to session April 13.

Legislation Would End Harassment Carve-out for Labor Disputes

By John L. Kennedy |

Legislation that would strike a provision in the Crimes Code permitting stalking, harassment and even threats regarding the use of weapons of mass destruction during labor disputes has been reintroduced in the state House of Representatives.

Payday Loan Issue May Be Mooted by Federal Law

By John L. Kennedy |

Executive and Legislative Action for Week of March 23

By John L. Kennedy |

Following is a listing of executive and legislative action for the week of March 23. Members of the state House of Representatives were set to return to session March 30; Senate members are set to return April 13.

State Lawmakers Buried in Public Pension Crisis

By John L. Kennedy |

The city of York's accumulated $10 million pension payments, added on to this year's obligation, would take a 25 percent bite out of the city's entire budget, according to Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale.

Wolf's State Police Commissioner Nominee Encounters Controversy

By John L. Kennedy |

Marcus Brown, Gov. Tom Wolf's nominee for Pennsylvania State Police commissioner, might wish by now he had stayed in Maryland. The latest in Brown's controversial nomination is a letter he reportedly received that read: "No [racial epithet] lover will wear my uniform."

Executive, Legislative and Judiciary Action for Week of March 16

By John L. Kennedy |

Following is a listing of executive, legislative and judiciary action for the week of March 16. Members of the state House of Representatives are scheduled to return to voting session March 30; Senate members are scheduled to return April 13.

Wolf, Republicans Battle Over School Funding Letter

By John L. Kennedy |

Republican lawmakers called Gov. Tom Wolf out on a letter from his acting secretary of Education, sent to the state's school districts, asking how they would spend money they haven't yet received.