Senator Bob Mensch E-Newsletter

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Week of March 18, 2019

In this Update:

  • Senate Bill Stripping Public Pensions for Felonies Set for Enactment
  • Senate Panel Passes Bill to Help Students Facing Extended Absence from School
  • Senate Approves Civil Air Patrol Measure
  • Committee Roundup
  • Next Week

Senate Bill Stripping Public Pensions for Felonies Set for Enactment

Legislation I co-sponsored to ensure that public officials and public employees who commit job-related felonies are stripped of their taxpayer-funded pensions received final legislative approval this week and was sent to the Governor’s desk for enactment into law.

Currently, the Public Employee Pension Forfeiture Act requires pension forfeiture only for certain specific crimes. This allows public employees charged with a forfeiture crime to plead guilty to a different non-forfeiture crime in order to avoid losing their pension.

Senate Bill 113 requires pension forfeiture after a public employee or official is convicted of — or pleads guilty or no contest to — any felony offense related to his or her employment.

The measure closes the “Mellow Loophole,” through which former Senator Bob Mellow of Lackawanna County had his $245,000 a year pension restored despite pleading guilty and being sent to prison on federal conspiracy charges.

Senate Panel Passes Bill to Help Students Facing Extended Absence from School

The Senate Education Committee on Tuesday approved a bill I am co-sponsoring that would ensure students who face an extended absence from school due to injury or illness could continue to participate in classroom activities and learning.

In current practice, homebound education is available to students who cannot attend school due to serious medical issues. However, many schools struggle to find a qualified teacher to provide instruction.

Senate Bill 144 would create a new grant program to help Intermediate Units purchase technology that will allow homebound students to participate in normal classroom learning, schoolwork and activities remotely through the use of telepresence technology.

The technology includes robotic devices that resemble an i-Pad mounted on a mobile Segway unit that allow real-time communication between students and their classrooms. The bill was sent to the full Senate for consideration.

Senate Approves Civil Air Patrol Measure

A measure intended to better secure state funding for the Civil Air Patrol received final Senate approval this week and was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration

Senate Bill 128 codifies the Civil Air Patrol’s state operations in Title 51 under the leadership of the Adjutant General.

The Civil Air Patrol is the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force and has three core missions – Aerospace Education, Cadet Programs, and Emergency Services (Search & Rescue, Disaster Relief, and Counter-Drug Support). The 55 Civil Air Patrol units in Pennsylvania work alongside state police, fire, and other emergency personnel to help save lives.

Committee Roundup

Agriculture & Rural Affairs

Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee and the House Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committees held a public hearing Wednesday to examine the Wolf Administration’s comprehensive “PA Farm Bill.”

The proposal includes 17 separate initiatives to address issues such as business development and succession planning, processing capabilities, regulatory burdens, workforce needs, rapid response capabilities to address threats such as spotted lanternfly, agriculture infrastructure and market opportunities. Hearing Video

Appropriations

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved 16 bills on Monday.

Senate Bill 128 codifies the Civil Air Patrol’s state operations under the leadership of the Department of Military & Veterans Affairs.

Senate Bill 234 is the General Fund Budget for Fiscal Year 2019-20.

Senate Bill 235 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for the Bureau of Professional & Occupational Affairs.

Senate Bill 236 Workers’ Compensation Act and Pennsylvania Occupation Disease Act funding for Fiscal Year 2019-20.

Senate Bill 237 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for the Office of the Small Business Advocate.

Senate Bill 238 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for the Office of the Consumer Advocate.

Senate Bill 239 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for the Public School Employees’ Retirement Board.

Senate Bill 240 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for the State Employees’ Retirement Board.

Senate Bill 241 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for the Philadelphia Parking Authority.

Senate Bill 242 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.

Senate Bill 243 State Gaming Fund appropriations funding for Fiscal Year 2019-20.

Senate Bill 244 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for Penn State.

Senate Bill 245 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for the University of Pittsburgh.

Senate Bill 246 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for Temple University.

Senate Bill 247 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for Lincoln University.

Senate Bill 248 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for the University of Pennsylvania for veterinary activities and for the Center for Infectious Diseases.

Education

The Senate Education Committee approved five measures on Tuesday.

Senate Resolution 34 establishes a Global Education Task Force.

Senate Bill 89 updates the Public School Code to replace “vocational-technical schools” with “career and technical schools.”

Senate Bill 115 integrates CPR instruction into existing curriculum for grades 9-12.

Senate Bill 144 creates the Keystone Telepresence Education Grant program.

Senate Bill 440 provides for flexible instruction days.

State Government

The Senate State Government Committee approved two bills on Tuesday.

House Bill 18 authorizes the release of Project 70 restrictions on land owned by the Borough of Topton, Berks County, in exchange for the imposition of the restrictions on other land to be acquired by the borough. The bill also provides for land conveyances in Chester, Lehigh and Monroe counties.

Senate Bill 372 updates the state History Code.

Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness

The Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee approved four bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 139 amends the Pennsylvania Price Gouging Act to ensure that a Governor’s emergency declaration does not place an undue and unnecessary burden on operations and businesses outside of and unrelated to the disaster.

Senate Bill 146 makes online training more available to current and prospective first responders. 

Senate Bill 298 transfers “Stolen Valor” fines to the Pennsylvania Veterans’ Trust Fund. 

Senate Bill 439 expands the Pennsylvania Heart and Lung Act to include several law enforcement entities that are not currently protected by this coverage.

Next Week

The Senate returns to voting session on Monday at 1 p.m. You can watch session live at PASenateGOP.com.

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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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