Senator Bob Mensch E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Senate Set to Review Governor’s Proposed State Budget
  • Senate Acts to Strengthen Public Employee Pension Forfeiture Act
  • Other Bills Passed by the Senate
  • Committee Roundup
  • Up Next

It was a pleasure to join Representative Marcy Toepel (R-147) in welcoming the Souderton Area High School Girls’ Soccer Team to the Senate and recognizing them for winning the 2018 PIAA State Class 4A Girls’ Soccer Championship. They won the state title by defeating Pennridge High School 1-0 in overtime. It was my honor to recognize the coaches and assistant coaches for their leadership, and commend team members for their outstanding performance and commitment to excellence.

Senate Set to Review Governor’s Proposed State Budget

2/5/19 - Response to Governor's Budget Address
As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I will be closely reviewing the $34.1 billion state budget proposed Tuesday by Gov. Tom Wolf.

The Governor’s budget proposal includes a $927.3 million (2.8 percent) increase in state spending from the current fiscal year.

I’m pleased that Governor Wolf is not requesting any broad-based tax increases for Pennsylvanians. We need to continue focusing on ways to improve the efficiency of our government.

We have begun to implement performance-based budgeting measures though legislation I authored, Act 48 of 2017, and these measures go beyond simply setting spending levels. Instead, it develops measures to grade the outcomes of expenditures for state agencies and tax credit programs.

With such measurements, we can eliminate unnecessary spending and adjust programs to achieve their stated purpose. I look forward to utilizing these performance measures and working with the state departments during the budget hearings.

The Senate Appropriations Committee will hold a three-week series of Departmental Budget Hearings beginning on February 19. The hearings provide an opportunity for the Appropriations Committee to hear cabinet secretaries and other Administration officials detail their plans for the upcoming fiscal year. The state’s current fiscal year ends on June 30.

Senate Acts to Strengthen Public Employee Pension Forfeiture Act

A measure I co-sponsored to strip taxpayer-funded pensions from public employees who commit job-related felonies was approved on Monday by the Senate.

Senate Bill 113 closes the “Mellow Loophole,” named after former Senator Bob Mellow of Lackawanna County, who in 2017 had his $245,000-a-year pension restored despite pleading guilty and being sent to prison on federal conspiracy charges.

The bill would require pension forfeiture if a public employee or public official is convicted, pleads guilty, or pleads no contest to any felony offense related to his or her employment. The Public Employee Pension Forfeiture Act currently only requires pension forfeiture for certain crimes. Therefore, lawmakers and other public employees will plead guilty to a non-forfeiture crime in order to avoid losing their pensions.

The legislation also ensures that criminal convictions involving public officials are reported to state pension boards, which is not currently required.

Senate Bill 113 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Other Bills Passed by the Senate

Senate Bill 9 designates the Eastern Hellbender as Pennsylvania’s state amphibian.

Senate Resolution 20 urges the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to delay action on its proposed change to Rule 1006 regarding venue in medical professional liability actions.

Senate Bill 26 releases Project 70 restrictions on lands owned by the Borough of Topton, Berks County, in exchange for the imposition of the restrictions on other lands to be acquired by the borough.

Senate Bill 130 releases a use restriction and reversionary interest affecting a property located partly in the Township of Mahoning and partly in the Borough of Danville in Montour County.

Committee Roundup

Agriculture & Rural Affairs

Senate Bill 85 provides for license fee exemptions for service dogs used by a fire department, sheriff’s office or in the performance of rescue services or medical emergency services. Currently, the fee exemption exists only for any municipal or State police department or agency.

Senate Bill 145 amends the Agricultural Area Security Law to allow for the voluntary relinquishment of the right to construct a residence.

Judiciary

Senate Resolution 20 urges the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to delay action on its proposed change to Rule 1006 regarding venue in medical professional liability actions.

Senate Bill 49 extends “Good Samaritan” civil liability to a person who — in an effort to save a child — breaks a window or forcibly enters a parked, locked vehicle.

Senate Bill 86 amends the Newborn Protection Act to add urgent care centers to the list of “safe havens” where a parent may surrender a newborn.

State Government

Senate Bill 133 amends the State Constitution to allow gubernatorial candidates to select their own running mate.

Senate Bill 190 conveys a property in Somerset Township, Somerset County.

Transportation

Senate Bill 43 designates a portion of U.S. Route 30 in Westmoreland County, as the J. Edward “Hutch” Hutchinson Memorial Bypass.

Senate Bill 62 reduce the percentage of service-connected disability required for a veteran to qualify for a severely disabled veteran license plate from 100 percent disability to at least a 75 percent disability.

Senate Bill 117 designates a bridge on State Route 3016 (Bedford Street) over Solomon Run in the City of Johnstown, Cambria County, as the Seaman Apprentice Kenneth D. Scaife Memorial Bridge.

Up Next

The Senate Appropriations Committee will hold three weeks of public hearings on the proposed state budget from February 19 to March 7. You can view the hearings and hearing summaries at PASenateGOP.com.

The Senate will reconvene Monday, March 18 at 1 p.m.

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Twitter and Facebook I post regular updates on legislative action, committee developments, useful state-related information, happenings in the 24th Senatorial District and more on Twitter @SenatorMensch and on my Facebook page.

If you find this e-newsletter useful, I invite you to visit my website www.senatormensch.com for more information about your state government.

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