State Sen. David G. Argall on Thursday released his weekly recap of Senate activity:
The Senate concurred on House amendments on Tuesday and sent three bills to the Governor for his signature and enactment into law.
Senate Bill 302 sets standards and provides uniformity across the commonwealth for county Directors of Veterans Affairs. The legislation is supported by the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA), the Pennsylvania State Association of County Directors of Veterans Affairs (PSACDVA), and the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP).
Senate Bill 436 amends the Election Code to give voting standards (i.e. what constitutes a valid vote) established by the Voting Standards Development Board the force and effect of law.
Senate Bill 623 expands the Mentored Youth Hunting Program to all ages. In 2006, the Game Commission launched the Mentored Youth Hunting Program to expand hunting opportunities for individuals under the age of 12 while maintaining safety. This bill extends this voluntary opportunity to all ages, but does not alter any normal licensing procedures.
Senate begins study of PLCB privatization
The Senate Law and Justice Committee held its first public hearing on the Governor's proposal to privatize liquor sales in Pennsylvania on Tuesday. The committee expects to hold additional hearings..
Senate approves expeditious reporting of personal data breaches
State agencies and local governments would be required to expeditiously notify the public of data breaches involving personal information under legislation approved by the Senate on Wednesday. Current law requires public notification of such incidents "without unreasonable delay." Senate Bill 114 sets a specific one-week notification requirement for breaches involving state agencies and local governments.
Senate Bill 638 reduces burden for agriculture
The Senate passed legislation on Tuesday that will provide a tax break for Pennsylvania farmers. Senate Bill 638 would ensure that high tunnel greenhouses are not considered permanent structures and categorized as real estate for tax purposes. High tunnels, also known as hoop houses, are steel pipe frames covered by plastic that have a variety of agricultural purposes including plant protection, livestock housing, and storage. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee Approves Argall Bill
The Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee, chaired by Senator David G. Argall (R-29), unanimously approved legislation on Wednesday that would allow developers more time to complete planned communities.
Senate Bill 859, sponsored by Argall, would extend the current time frame established in the original Uniform Planned Communities Act from a 7-year to a 10-year window.
For example, a developer who committed to and was approved for a 300-unit subdivision has produced and sold approximately 50 homes. Due to the current economic crisis, several lending institutions prohibit lines of credit or open-end mortgages for speculative residential development. Those builders who are stagnated in the early stages of large-scale developments will soon be forced to turn over undeveloped land and amenities to a small number of homeowners in an association once they reach the seven-year deadline.
Many times, the small number of homeowners in these uncompleted communities do not have the resources to maintain the inherited amenities. In turn, they ask the municipality as an issue of public safety and general welfare to plow the roads, repair sewer lines and other maintenance. If we give developers a few more years to complete the community and give the economy more time to recover, there will be more homeowners to pay for these services, which will save the municipality valuable tax dollars.
Senate Bill 859 now moves to the full Senate for its consideration.
Other legislation approved by the Senate this week
Senate Bill 177 creates a task force within the Department of Health to provide greater public awareness and education about Lyme disease.
Senate Bill 689 provides courts with guidelines to follow during custody disputes and divorce proceedings to help identify families at risk for abduction, as well as provide a method in which a party to a child custody order may seek, through a petition process, a supplemental order establishing anti-child abduction measures.
Senate Bill 744 allows counties to maintain the configuration of its row offices when the county advances from a fifth to a fourth class county as a result of census figures.
Senate acts to end 'Triple Dipping' of unemployment compensation benefits
The Senate approved Senate Bill 297 legislation to end so-called 'triple dipping' of Unemployment Compensation benefits by retirees on Tuesday. The practice involves an individual who collects a public pension or private retirement benefit while returning to temporary work, only to collect unemployment compensation when leaving the job.
Currently, there is no prohibition against an individual collecting unemployment if he or she leaves a temporary job to continue retirement or annuity benefits. In the past three years, more than 600 state retirees have returned to work on a temporary basis, and have then collected a combined $2 million in benefits while receiving a state pension.