Senator Bob Mensch E-Newsletter

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Week of May 6, 2019

In this Update:

  • Mensch Joins the Pottstown NAACP to Unveil Sign Recognizing Newstell
  • Mensch Supports Passage of “Farming First” Bills to Grow PA Agriculture
  • Committee Passage of Bill Projecting Future Employment Needs is Good News
  • Senate Votes to Give Firefighters Online Training Options
  • Senate Sends Child Safety Bill to Governor
  • Others Bills Approved by the Senate and Sent to the House
  • Committee Roundup
  • Up Next

Mensch Joins the Pottstown NAACP to Unveil Sign Recognizing Newstell Marable Sr.

It was a privilege to join the Pottstown Branch of the NAACP and members of the community May 4 at the intersection of Route 100, King Street, and Shoemaker Road in Pottstown, Pennsylvania to unveil a sign recognizing Newstell Marable, Sr.

I introduced legislation, Act 161 of 2018, which designates the bridge on a portion of Pennsylvania Route 100 over the Schuylkill River in Pottstown Borough, Montgomery County, as the Newstell Marable, Sr., Memorial Bridge.

I’m honored to help recognize Mr. Newstell Marable, Sr., who was an outstanding community leader and advocate. Mr. Marable was an exemplary citizen who went above and beyond to help unite his community. The bridge naming will be a daily reminder to everyone about his remarkable contributions to society.

Mensch Supports Passage of “Farming First” Bills to Grow PA Agriculture

5/8/19 - Farming First

Last week, I supported passage of a package of bills that would help Pennsylvania agricultural operations remain competitive and profitable for current and future generations of farmers.

Bills in the “Farming First” package that were passed by the Senate include:

  • A tax credit program for landowners to lease or sell farmland to future generations of farmers.
  • The creation of the Pennsylvania Dairy Future Commission to bring together all stakeholders in the industry.
  • Changes to the state’s farmland preservation program to allow farmers more flexibility for building or subdividing residences.
  • Updating Pennsylvania’s Vehicle Code to allow the transportation of large farm equipment.
  • Exempting milk haulers from weather-related travel bans.
  • Easing restrictions on the use of farmland for farm-related tourism and entertainment activities.
  • Setting commonsense safety standards and removing costly requirements for barn weddings and other social events on farms.

All of the bills in the “Farming First” package were sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Pennsylvania’s 59,000 farm families manage more than 7.7 million acres of farmland. The agriculture industry generates more than $7.5 billion in cash receipts annually. Agriculture is vital for our economy and, obviously, for our ability to access healthy food. To do it right, it must be environmentally sustainable for society and economically sustainable for farmers. These bills will help ensure responsible farming continues for future generations.

Committee Passage of Bill Projecting Future Employment Needs is Good News

The Senate Labor and Industry Committee last week approved Senate Bill 91, legislation I’m co-sponsoring to require the Department of Labor and Industry (L&I) to collect and publish forward-facing employment data.

Under this bipartisan bill, sponsored by Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-7), data that would be collected would help L&I, educational institutions and others help prepare Pennsylvania’s workforce for the jobs of the future. Several states have taken similar steps, having their labor departments expand the scope of the data collected with the goal of preparing their respective workforces in mind.

L&I would be responsible for collecting and disseminating data on emerging and future employment sectors in the commonwealth. In turn, L&I would send information on forward-facing employment data to all state educational institutions. In turn, the educational institutions would be required to provide information to those who are responsible for vocational and education guidance, which would be used to develop career education and vocational programs. 

For future generations to prosper and for Pennsylvania to stay competitive, we have to ensure young workers are prepared for the jobs that will be in demand in coming years. Senate Bill 91 will help provide skilled workers to job creators and jobs to young workers, fueling a vibrant economy that keeps pace with the times.

Senate Votes to Give Firefighters Online Training Options 

The Senate approved a bill that May 6 would help Pennsylvania’s volunteer fire companies recruit and retain members. Senate Bill 146, which makes online training more available to current and prospective first responders, now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration. 

In the 1970’s, Pennsylvania had more than 300,000 volunteer firefighters; today we have fewer than 40,000. Firefighters – especially younger, tech-savvy firefighters-in-training – have requested that some courses be offered online, so that they can learn vital skills from the convenience of their own homes and on their own schedules. The option is also available to career firefighters.

Senate Sends Child Safety Bill to Governor 

The Senate approved a bill May 8 that would provide civil immunity for people who rescue children from locked vehicles during a crisis, such as when summer heat imperils their safety. The Senate passed similar legislation earlier this year.

House Bill 279, which provides for civil immunity when there is damage to a motor vehicle when forceful entry is necessary to rescue an individual, now goes to the Governor for enactment into law.

Under the measure, immunity would be granted based on several criteria, including a belief that the individual is in imminent danger of suffering harm and is unable to exit the vehicle without assistance. A reasonable attempt to locate the driver and contact law enforcement or an emergency responder must also be made prior to entry. 

Others Bills Approved by the Senate and Sent to the House

Senate Bill 89 updates the Public School Code to replace “vocational-technical schools” with “career and technical schools,” in order to encourage greater enrollment.

Senate Bill 613 amends the Administrative Code to repeal provisions related to employees with access to federal tax information and providing for criminal history background checks of employees and contractors with access to federal tax information.

Committee Roundup 

Senate committees held confirmation hearings on several cabinet secretaries last week, including: Aging, Banking & Securities, Corrections, Environmental Protection, Community & Economic Development, as well as State Police Commissioner. You can view these hearings here. Other committee action: 

Appropriations

Senate Bill 174 provides for the tax sale of abandoned properties.

Senate Bill 338 increases the allowable width for farm equipment on roads.

Senate Bill 478 provides a personal income tax credit for landowners who lease or sell their land, buildings and equipment to beginning farmers.

Senate Bill 583 ensures that agritourism activities are considered and treated as part of agriculture authorized on farms in the state farmland preservation program.

Senate Bill 585 establishes the Pennsylvania Dairy Future Commission to review the current status of the dairy industry in the Commonwealth and make recommendations on how to support its future.

Senate Bill 613 amends the Administrative Code to repeal provisions related to employees with access to federal tax information and providing for criminal history background checks of employees and contractors with access to federal tax information.

Education

Senate Bill 456 allows private licensed schools to create branch campuses in counties outside the county that houses the primary site.

Senate Bill 621 amends Act 44 of 2018 to clarify language regarding armed school security guards and regarding sheriffs and deputy sheriffs who serve as school security officers.

Finance

Senate Bill 28 reduces the inheritance tax on property passing to non-sibling heirs.

Senate Bill 201 provides for “like-kind” exchange tax deferrals.  

Senate Bill 541 improves Pennsylvania’s historic preservation incentive tax credit program.

Senate Bill 616 clarifies an existing sales and use tax exemption on certain services or goods purchased by qualified businesses located in a Strategic Development Area. 

Senate Bill 618 grants a 10-year extension of the Coal Refuse Energy and Reclamation Tax Credit — from the currently mandated year of 2026 to 2036 — and increases the amount of tax credits to $45 million.

Game & Fisheries

Senate Bill 481 exempts the cost of fishing licenses for veterans and other individuals taking steps towards physical or mental recovery as part of therapeutic recreation events or programs.

Senate Bill 552 gives the Game Commission the authority to establish fees.

Senate Bill 553 gives the Fish and Boat Commission the authority to establish fees. 

Labor & Industry

Senate Bill 91 requires the Department of Labor & Industry to collect and disseminate data about emerging and projected future employment sectors.

Senate Bill 118 creates a “Recovery to Work” pilot program.

Senate Bill 140 extends the rights of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act to siblings, grandparents and grandchildren in certain cases.

Law & Justice

Senate Resolution 105 directs the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to study the statutory cap on the Pennsylvania State Police complement and issue a report of its findings and recommendations to the Senate.

Local Government

Senate Bill 321 gives municipalities the option to ban gaming establishments.

State Government

House Bill 223 conveys land in Asylum Township, Bradford County, to French Azilum, Inc.

House Bill 227 clarifies that school director candidates will be required to submit 10 signatures for nomination.

Senate Bill 412 amends the state Constitution to repeal a provision that excludes federal, state, county, and municipal employees from serving as poll workers. 

Senate Bill 413 amends the state Constitution to eliminate a provision requiring a separate ballot or a separate column on voting machines for the retention of justices, judges, and justices of the peace.

Senate Bill 538 conveys to the Cumberland Valley Rails-to-Trails Council a permanent easement for land owned by Shippensburg University for a parking lot.

Senate Bill 617 conveys land in the Borough of Lewistown to Mifflin County.

Up Next

The Senate returns to voting session on Monday, June 3, 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.

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