Below are some important Harrisburg updates that may be helpful to you.
This week was another busy and important week in Harrisburg. Both the House and Senate were in session on Monday and Tuesday, with the Senate remaining in session through Wednesday.
Again, the most important pieces of legislation dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically looking to ensure a balance of power among the co-equal branches of our government. Wednesday saw the final Senate passage of Senate Bill 1166, which seeks to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to ensure that any Governor in the future would have to get legislative approval to extend an emergency declaration. This passed both chambers with bi-partisan support, however, a constitutional amendment is slightly different than a normal bill. A constitutional amendment:
- Needs to pass the Pennsylvania General Assembly in two consecutive sessions.
- Needs to be approved by the voters on the ballot of the next election.
Additionally, House Bill 2463 provided that Commonwealth departments must keep their Open Records Offices open during an emergency declaration. Currently, the Governor and administrative departments such as Labor & Industry and the Department of Health have shut down their Open Records Office and are not responding to Right-to-Know requests. This is unacceptable and this bill fights for the transparency that we all deserve.
Another piece of legislation, Senate Bill 1216, would enable graduates to obtain temporary certifications and extend certain deadlines to provide additional flexibility so schools are not faced with additional challenges in recruiting staff when reopening schools.
Several noteworthy bills that were approved by the Senate recently were signed into law this week, including:
- Policing reform measures to ensure stronger background checks and boost training requirements for officers.
- A measure to ensure proper fire alarm systems in child care centers.
- Legislation to provide incentives to redevelop blighted properties.
Other tremendously important bills that we passed which are not COVID-19 related are:
- House Bill 196
- Another constitutional amendment which would switch appellate court judge elections from statewide to elections based on regions/districts.
- Senate Bill 14
- Probation and Parole reform.
- House Bill 732
- Amended to include business investment tax credits for Northeastern PA similar to the ones for the Shell Cracker Plant in Beaver County
- Potential to create thousands of family-sustaining jobs
- Senate Bill 940
- Help municipalities combat blighted and abandoned properties with absentee owners.
- Allow municipalities to file condemnation orders on the properties with the county records of deeds.
Lastly, I encourage you to continue to stay calm and safe in whichever way you can as we ride this out together. I have been sending out newsletters almost daily with the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19 with specific information related to our area. If you’re interested, you can sign up to receive these newsletters on my website, senatormensch.com. You can also keep an eye on my website for news releases, email me with questions or concerns, or find contact information for my district offices which you can get in touch with if you need anything.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 215-541-2388.
Senator Bob Mensch
24th Senatorial District