Senator Bob Mensch E-Newsletter

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In this Edition:

  • Mensch Reports to Senior Citizens
  • Senator Mensch and Senator Dinniman Discuss Manufacturing Initiative at Precision Polymer Products in Pottstown
  • Senate Approves Bipartisan Crime Victims Package
  • Bills Sent to Governor’s Desk
  • Senate Approves Lieutenant Governor Reform Legislation
  • Mensch Measure Honoring Stephen Hawking Unanimously Approved by Senate
  • Other Bills Approved by the Senate and sent to the House
  • Committee Roundup
  • Next Week

Mensch Reports to Senior Citizens

I recently mailed a legislative update outlining issues important to senior citizens. It includes information on:

  • Strengthening Older Adult Protective Services
  • Applying for Property Tax and Rent Rebates
  • Services Offered by Area Agencies on Aging
  • SEPTA Key Senior ID Card Discounts
  • Home Heating Assistance, and More

You can check it out here. 

Senator Mensch and Senator Dinniman Discuss Manufacturing Initiative at Precision Polymer Products in Pottstown

I joined Senator Andrew Dinniman (D-19) on March 16 for a press conference at Precision Polymer Products, Inc. in Pottstown to discuss Pennsylvania’s new manufacturing initiative.

The topic was an initiative I sponsored called the 21st Century Manufacturing Innovation and Reinvestment Deduction Act.  It was incorporated in the Tax Code (HB 542) which is now Act 43 of 2017.  The measure provides an incentive to Pennsylvania manufacturers to make large-scale investments to increase or establish manufacturing capacity within the Commonwealth.

It will permit manufacturers making capital investments in excess of $100 million to claim a deduction against their taxable income. The deduction will encourage businesses to invest in Pennsylvania and pave the way for the economic growth and job creation throughout the state.

The provision will have no adverse fiscal impact on 2017-18 or 2018-19 budgets as the recipient has three years to make the qualified capital investment and five years to attest to the state that the project is completed. Additionally, the deduction cannot reduce the manufacturer’s tax liability by more than 50 percent.

You can read more about this event here as well as coverage from the Pottstown Post and the Reading Eagle. 

Senate Approves Bipartisan Crime Victims Package

Senator Mensch following a Capitol rally to urge passage of legislation targeting domestic violence and boosting protection for crime victims.

The Senate approved a package of bills strengthening protections for victims of domestic violence on Wednesday. Six of the bills strengthen and reform Pennsylvania’s domestic violence laws, offer greater protections to victims of domestic violence and their children, and hold abusers accountable. 

The seventh bill would establish a crime victims’ bill of rights in the Pennsylvania Constitution to protect and expand the rights of victims of violent crime.

Senate Bill 313 makes it easier for domestic violence victims to remove the name of an abuser from a shared telephone plan. (I am co-sponsoring this legislation.)

Senate Bill 449 allows Magisterial District Judges to use a risk assessment tool when determining bail in domestic violence cases. (I am co-sponsoring this legislation.)

Senate Bill 500 ensures that law enforcement protection is available to a victim before or while PFA orders are being served. (I am co-sponsoring this legislation.) 

Senate Bill 501 requires a domestic violence defendant who is ordered by the court to relinquish firearms to surrender the weapons to law enforcement or a licensed dealer.

Senate Bill 502 makes it easier for the court to extend a PFA order when an abuser is released from custody. (I am co-sponsoring this legislation.)

Senate Bill 919 which allows domestic violence victims who live in public housing to be relocated to another unit. (I am co-sponsoring this legislation.)

Senate Bill 1011 amends the state Constitution to create a crime victims “Bill of Rights.” I am co-sponsoring this bill.

Senate Bill 449 now goes to the Governor for his signature and enactment into law. The other six bills were sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Bills Sent to Governor’s Desk

Senate Bill 135 would permit the use of a leashed tracking dog to track white-tailed deer to recover an animal which has been legally harvested or wounded.

Senate Bill 449 allows Magisterial District Judges to use a risk assessment tool when determining bail in domestic violence cases.

House Bill 1845 designates an Indiana County bridge as the First Lieutenant Theodore P. Pytash Bridge.

Senate Approves Lieutenant Governor Reform Legislation

The Senate passed bipartisan legislation on Tuesday to reform the way the Lieutenant Governor is elected in Pennsylvania. 

 Senate Bill 761 would amend the state Constitution to allow gubernatorial candidates to select their running mate subsequent to the primary election, which is a process similar to how presidential candidates currently select their vice presidential running mates.

The earliest the process could go into effect is 2022, since the Constitution requires that amendments be approved in two consecutive sessions of the General Assembly and then approved by voter referendum.   If the Constitutional amendment is approved, Pennsylvania would join 13 other states that allow gubernatorial candidates to pick a running mate for Lieutenant Governor.

Mensch Measure Honoring Stephen Hawking Unanimously Approved by Senate

A measure I sponsored to honor the life and accomplishments of physicist Stephen Hawking was unanimously adopted Tuesday by the Senate.

Senate Resolution 286 recognizes the cosmologist and author as “one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists in history.” Stephen Hawking passed away March 14 in Cambridge, England.

His is an amazing story.  In 1963, just before his 21st birthday, Dr. Hawking was diagnosed with a motor neuron disease commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease or ALS. Given two years to live, he defied the odds, not only attaining his Ph.D. but also forging new roads into the understanding of the universe in the decades since.

Dr. Hawking continued as a fellow at Cambridge University after his graduation and in 1979 was appointed the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University, a post once held by Sir Isaac Newton. While ALS robbed him of his mobility and speech, over the course of his career, his work on the origins and structure of the universe, from the Big Bang to black holes, revolutionized the field.

 Stephen Hawking became an emblem of human determination and curiosity. I am grateful that the Senate acted to honor the life and accomplishments of this great man.

Other Bills Approved by the Senate and sent to the House 

Senate Bill 792 repeals and replaces the Fertilizer Act.

Senate Bill 1002 renames bridges.

Committee Roundup

Appropriations

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved five bills on Monday.

House Bill 595  specifically provides for the types of complaints that can be filed with the Bureau of Consumer Protection regarding planned communities, cooperatives and condominiums.

Senate Bill 748 establishes notice guidelines regarding the proposed closure of state prisons.

Senate Bill 761 amends the state Constitution to allow gubernatorial candidates to select their Lieutenant Governor running mate.

Senate Bill 1011 amends the state Constitution to create a crime victims’ “Bill of Rights.”

House Bill 1952 addresses a state Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision that impacts Pennsylvania’s sexual offender registration act.

The Appropriations Committee approved two bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 501 addresses the relinquishment of firearms in PFA cases.

Senate Bill 919 allows a tenant of a housing authority unit, who is a victim of domestic or sexual violence, to be relocated to another unit.

Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure

The Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee and the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee held a joint public hearing Tuesday to address safety and management issues of pipeline operations in Pennsylvania.

Hearing Video & Written Testimony

Finance

The Senate Finance Committee approved three bills on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 390 amends the state Constitution to extend the state’s property tax exemption program for disabled veterans to the surviving spouse of a soldier killed in action.

Senate Bill 765 establishes a sales tax “holiday” for the purchase of emergency preparedness equipment.  

House Bill 2017 amends the Tax Reform Code, providing for definitions in corporate net income tax.

Game & Fisheries

The Senate Game and Fisheries Committee held a public hearing Wednesday on the annual reports from the Pennsylvania Game Commission and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.

Hearing Video & Agenda

Health & Human Services

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee approved four bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 576 defines the difference between an inducement for a patient to participate in a cancer clinical trial and the reimbursement of expenses for participating in a clinical trial.

Senate Bill 1087 establishes a joint commission on the child-welfare system.

House Bill 1233 establishes a new standard for assisted outpatient treatment for seriously mentally ill individuals.

House Bill 1869 establishes a committee to review maternal deaths and develop strategies for the prevention of maternal deaths.

On Monday, the committee held a public hearing on the nominations of Department of Human Services Acting Secretary Teresa Miller, Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Acting Secretary Jennifer Smith and Department of Health Acting Secretary Rachel Levine.

Hearing Video & Written Testimony

Judiciary

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved 12 bills on Monday.

House Bill 149 provides for the unlawful use of an audio or video recording device in court.

House Bill 324 provides protections for retirement plan benefits due to pension de-risking.

Senate Bill 357 provides for the offense of Aggravated Assault by a Person in Custody if the individual tries to cause another person to come into contact with blood, seminal fluid, saliva, urine or feces by throwing, tossing, spitting or expelling such fluid or material.

Senate Bill 480 addresses animal cruelty in a domestic violence situation.

Senate Bill 501 addresses the relinquishment of firearms in PFA cases.

Senate Bill 502 allows courts to extend an existing PFA order or issue a new order in certain circumstances.

Senate Bill 652 enhances the penalties for those who criminally trespass on “critical infrastructure facilities.”

Senate Bill 915 extends the deadline for filing a post-conviction relief action.

Senate Bill 916 updates the DNA testing law.

Senate Bill 1070 creates a County Adult Probation and Parole Advisory Committee.

Senate Bill 1071 streamlines the process for placement in State Intermediate Punishment.

Senate Bill 1072 revises sentencing laws.

On Monday, the committee held a joint hearing with the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Public Safety and Criminal Justice to discuss criminal justice issues.

Hearing Video & Agenda

Local Government

The Senate Local Government Committee approved Senate Bill 1005 on Tuesday. The bill makes numerous changes to the County Code.

Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness

The Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee approved four measures on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 239 amends the state Constitution to allow for an expansion of the Property Tax Exemption Program for Disabled Veterans.

Senate Resolution 260 extends the term of the Senate Resolution 6 Commission from June 30 to November 30, 2018.

Senate Bill 1021 provides a limited-time opportunity for certain amputee or paralyzed veterans to apply for the state’s Amputee and Paralyzed Veterans’ Pension.

Senate Bill 1041 directs the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to create logos to promote veteran-owned and disabled veteran-owned businesses.

Next Week 

The Senate returns to voting session Monday at 1 p.m. On Tuesday at 2 p.m., the Senate Appropriations Committee will hold a public hearing on the proposed budgets of the Department of Health and the Department of Human Services. This budget hearing was postponed on March 7 due to inclement weather.  You can watch session and the hearing live at PASenateGOP.com.

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