The latest from around Pennsylvania



Pa. Senate panel approves review into rape kit testing standards

Posted: June 7, 2017

The General Assembly set standards for testing rape kits in a timely manner in Act 27 of 2015, but today more than 1,200 kits have been sitting untested for over a year.

In response, the Senate Law and Justice Committee approved a resolution from Republican Senator Bob Mensch of Montgomery County, which would authorize the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to review the 2015 standards.

Pa. House Republican leaders on Democratic National Convention bonuses: We want state money back

Posted: June 7, 2017

State House Republican leaders have joined the chorus of critics angered by the cash-out of surpluses in the accounts of the “Philadelphia 2016 Host Committee” for the Democratic National Convention.

And, they went one step further, demanding Thursday in a letter to former Gov. Ed Rendell and Democratic National Committee Chair Thomas Perez that Pennsylvania get a portion of its $10 million appropriation back.

Pa. Senate advances sweeping online gambling expansion

Posted: June 7, 2017

The state Senate passed a sweeping gambling expansion bill Wednesday that’s projected to generate between $109 million and $147 million in new revenue amid a growing deficit.

Fantasy contests, online gaming and tablets at airports are a few of the key components of House Bill 271, which was amended by the Senate on its way back to the House. Reaching an agreement on these measures has proven elusive in the past.

Senate GOP readies for another shot at the pension problem

Posted: June 7, 2017

One of Harrisburg’s perennial headaches is heading back to the legislative spotlight as Senate Republican leaders work to push a familiar pension bill through the chamber.

Last session, GOP lawmakers made a late-in-the-game attempt to pass a pension overhaul that would have offered state employees three retirement options–two so-called “hybrid” plans, and a 401k-style plan.

Pa. Senate GOP targets union contributions

Posted: June 7, 2017

Republicans in the Pennsylvania state Senate are making another attempt to end the ability of public-sector labor unions to collect full dues and political action committee contributions through payroll deductions from members’ paychecks.

The GOP-controlled Senate State Government Committee cast an 8-4 party line vote Tuesday to advance the legislation and a resolution to amend the constitution. The bill passed the Senate 26-23 in 2015, but died in the House last year. It is also opposed by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf.

House approves bill for beer distributors to sell wine, liquor

Posted: June 7, 2017

The state House on Tuesday sent the Senate another liquor proposal, continuing its push for further changes to the state’s alcohol laws.

The bill would allow licensed beer distributors and importing distributors, known as wholesalers, to purchase a permit to sell unlimited quantities of wine and liquor. Beer distributor warehouses, which already sell beer in quantities ranging from single bottles to kegs, would essentially become one-stop shops for alcohol under the legislation.

Op-Ed: Mike Turzai: Free the wine (for all grocery stores)

Posted: June 7, 2017

I read the March 23 Perspectives piece by Nicole Neily, president of Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity in Alexandria, Va., with interest (“Consumers on Ice: Pennsylvania’s Liquor Reforms Haven’t Addressed the Real Problem”). But I have to ask: Where was Ms. Neily when we were voting full privatization in the House on four separate occasions?

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed my legislation to privatize the sale of wine and spirits and eliminate the Liquor Control Board’s ability to sell wine and spirits on four separate occasions: House Bill 790 was passed on March 21, 2013; House Bill 466 was passed on Feb. 26, 2015; HB 466 was passed on concurrence on June 30, 2015, and put on the governor’s desk, which he promptly vetoed; lastly, House Bill 1690 was passed on Nov. 19, 2015, and sent to the Senate before it became the legislative vehicle for a “compromise.”

House GOP Fast-Tracking Austere Budget Proposal

Posted: June 7, 2017

In an unexpected move, House Republicans have introduced their own budget bill for the upcoming fiscal year.

The $31.5 billion plan slashes about $800 million off the already-lean proposal Governor Tom Wolf pitched in February. It also gets rid of the billion dollars in new tax revenue Wolf used to balance his budget.

Senate, House Leaders Call on Wolf to Protect Excellent Teachers

Posted: June 21, 2016

Republican Party leaders, school board representatives and education advocates urged Governor Tom Wolf to support PA schools to sign House Bill 805.  If implemented, The Protecting Excellent Teachers Act would have demolished the method of seniority-based layoffs; instead, teacher performance and quality would guide layoff and reinstatement decisions.

Tobash’s Hybrid Pension Plan Passes House Committee

Posted: June 21, 2016

Republican Representative Mike Tobash’s legislation won the votes and support of the House State Government Committee. House Bill 1499 will create a reformed retirement benefit plan, with both defined benefit and defined contribution factors for future state and public school employees.