Following is a listing of legislative action for the week of Jan. 27. Members of the General Assembly were set to return to session Feb. 3.
• HB 1983, introduced in the state House of Representatives, would extend the life of the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4) beyond its June 30 sunset date.
The sponsor of the bill, state Rep. Flo Fabrizio, D-Erie, said that besides stimulating competition and reducing costs, PHC4 provides essential tools, analysis and data, not only to consumers but also to hospitals and other health care providers.
• The House passed HB 906, which would add government agencies to a list of parties that need permission from consumers before accessing smart meter data.
• HB 1471, which would give taxpayers a complete and accurate understanding of Pennsylvania's public pension crisis, was approved by the House state government committee.
The bill would require the annual financial statements of the State Employees' Retirement System and Public School Employees' Retirement System to include a mark-to-market balance sheet, where the actual values of assets and liabilities are used. Currently, the estimated $50 billion unfunded liability of the two public pension systems is calculated according to actuarial accounting assumptions.
• The state Senate judiciary committee approved two bills, SB 1016 and SB 1017, that would help crime victims collect restitution.
SB 1016 would require that court-ordered restitution be taken from individual state income-tax refunds.
SB 1017 would authorize that court-ordered restitution be satisfied from Pennsylvania Lottery prizes of $2,500 or more.
• Legislation has been introduced to strengthen Pennsylvania's Pay Equity Law to protect employees who dispute their workplace earnings.
SB 1212 would increase the protection to employees who have filed a legal complaint against an employer and would prohibit retaliation against employees for discussing wages. The bill would narrow the "factor other than sex" defense to apply only to bona fide business-related factors, including education, training or experience.