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Senate News Brief

A preview of what's ahead in the Senate and a review of recent legislative action.


“There is significant interest in the General Assembly, the Corbett Administration, school board members and the general public to establish a formula to provide a predictable source for the distribution of those dollars.” - Sen. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh) News Brief 9/15/14

"Lyme disease is reaching epidemic proportions in the commonwealth. I look forward to seeing SB 177 signed into law so we can more closely monitor Lyme carrying ticks and help people avoid this debilitating disease." - Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery) News Brief 6/23/14

"While the changes streamlined our local tax system, they also had the unfortunate consequence of removing this important tax benefit for our military. It has been long-standing policy that the wages they earn for active-duty service should not be subject to local tax.” - Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) News Brief 6/16/14

“Athletics are a wonderful way for students to learn important teamwork skills and to have fun. Parents have a right to feel secure in knowing that their children are safe when participating in sports and that child predators are not able to use athletics as a way to harm children.” - Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) News Brief 6/9/14

"If there is a need to re-open the existing gaming laws to address new trends and changes surrounding the gaming industry, then we should address that now, in order to maintain the industry’s health and vitality in the future.”  - Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee Chair Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland) News Brief 6/2/14

"We have to make hard decisions. At the end of the day our revenues have to match our expenditures. Our expenditures are growing at a rapid rate.” - Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jake Corman (R-Centre) News Brief 5/5/14

“When the Commonwealth invests in these businesses, it is an investment that strengthens the economic fiber of our communities and, directly or indirectly, sustains the quality of life for us all.”  - Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R-Venango) News Brief 4/28/14

“As a small business owner, I want to help create jobs and opportunities and bring fiscal responsibility to state government.”  - Sen. Scott Wagner (R-York) News Brief 4/7/14

"As revelations and allegations about the conduct of public officials in Pennsylvania continue to weaken public confidence in the General Assembly, it is imperative that we make significant, immediate changes. A ban on cash gifts to legislators will be a strong step forward.”  - Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) News Brief 3/31/14

"Over the course of this difficult winter, I have heard from schools across my district that additional flexibility will allow them to more effectively deal with scheduling issues caused by the inclement weather. While we cannot control the weather that occurred, we can provide school officials with the flexibility to meet the state’s instructional requirement.”  - Sen. Jake Corman (R-Centre) News Brief 3/17/14

“Hal was intelligent, knowledgeable and compassionate, and he had a great sense of humor. When you worked with him, you always came away from the process with even more respect for the man and his abilities. He was a consummate professional in every way.”  - Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) and Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware) News Brief 3/10/14

"The Senate Majority Caucus Chair plays an integral role in the day-to-day operation of Senate, especially on session days. Senator Gordner’s diligent work ethic and strong organizational skills will be a tremendous asset to the Republican Caucus as he takes on this position.” -  Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) News Brief 2/4/14

“Hurricane Katrina demonstrated the red tape that doctors, counselors, and funeral directors had to endure in order to help those in need. We have learned from that tragic experience, which claimed the lives of 1,836 people, and are acting to ensure that Pennsylvanians have immediate access to health care during the most critical times.” -  Senator Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) News Brief 1/27/14

“In 2014 it is my pledge to continue to work with my Senate colleagues to make decisions that will strengthen our communities, provide for family-sustaining jobs and ensure Pennsylvania will remain a strong commonwealth for future generations.”  -  Senator Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) News Brief 1/13/14


"Moody’s said the new law is good for our state’s credit rating because it provides a new and recurring revenue stream to address the states large backlog of transportation improvement and maintenance projects."  -  Senate Transportation Committee Chairman John Rafferty (R-Montgomery) News Brief 12/9/13

"This is a total overhaul. Transparency builds confidence in government, and we rebuilt the website from the ground up so that it’s easier than ever for the public to follow and comment on the work of the General Assembly."  -  Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware) News Brief 11/18/13

"We should provide every opportunity for service members and veterans to use their skills and training in the civilian world. This will benefit our men and women who serve our nation and Commonwealth as well as the companies that ultimately employ them.”  -  Sen. Elder Vogel (R-Beaver) News Brief 11/12/13

"This bill strengthens Pennsylvania’s child abuse laws by holding perpetrators accountable for their actions and by increasing the criminal penalties for any person who injures a child.”  -  Sen. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh) News Brief 10/21/13

“Pennsylvania’s child protection laws are long overdue for review and update. The recommendations made by the Task Force on Child Protection helped us understand what needs to be done in order to prevent and deter child abuse and neglect. The passage of this bipartisan child protection package is an important step in this critical process.”  -  Senate Aging and Youth Committee Chair Bob Mensch (R-Montgomery) News Brief 10/15/13

“House Bill 108 does exactly what the governor is advocating,” Senator White said. “Not only does it extend the CHIP program, this bill removes the six-month prohibition, providing immediate access to the quality care that the children of our commonwealth deserve.”  -  Senator Don White (R-Indiana) News Brief 9/30/13

“A recent report by a national transportation group found that the poor state of Pennsylvania's roads and bridges costs state residents $9.4 billion annually in vehicle operating costs, congestion delays and traffic accidents. When you look at those statistics, it is very clear that state residents are paying the price for our deteriorating infrastructure. There is a cost if we don’t take action.”  -  Senator Rafferty (R-Montgomery) News Brief 9/23/13

“The fact remains that our Commonwealth has an unfunded pension liability totaling $47 billion which needs to be honored with a plan to pay for it. With this debt expected to grow to $65 billion within a decade, combined with rising property taxes, I remain baffled that anyone would choose to ignore this problem.”  -  Senator Brubaker (R-Lancaster) News Brief 6/24/13

“The Center for Rural Pennsylvania held a hearing in which it became apparent that a significant part of Pennsylvania was not served by natural gas, although we’re sitting on one of the largest deposits of natural gas in the world. These bills will provide the opportunity for residents to obtain gas service should they choose that source of energy.”  -  Senator Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) News Brief 6/17/13

"I am very pleased by the collaborative effort of members from rural, suburban and urban communities in crafting this legislation. It received such strong bipartisan support because it will benefit residents in every area of our state.”  -  Sen. John Rafferty (R-Montgomery) News Brief 6/10/13

"We’ve been traveling the state to assess transportation needs to make sure that when we put together a transportation package it would be one that would be thorough and viable for the entire commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”  -  Sen. John Rafferty (R-Montgomery) News Brief 6/3/13

“The reapportionment process began in 2011, and over the past two years has been extremely open and transparent with numerous public hearings. The process was extended, in part, due to the fact that significant effort was made to solicit and respond to legitimate concerns.”  -  Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) News Brief 5/13/13

"About a year ago it came to my attention that retired state employees who are hired back as annuitants are able to collect unemployment on top of their pension and additional salary for the temporary work. The past three years 638 state annuitants collected $2.77 million in unemployment benefits. It only makes sense to close this loophole."  -  Sen. Pat Vance (R-Cumberland) News Brief 5/6/13

"Our roads and bridges continue to crumble, our mass transit systems lack the funds needed to meet continued demand, and our railways, airports and ports struggle to be economic generators for the 21st Century. We simply cannot continue to ignore these pressing needs, which are directly related to public safety and economic development."  -  Sen. John Rafferty (R-Montgomery) News Brief 4/29/13

“The reforms and the changes proposed in this bill are important and they are long overdue. Pennsylvania’s special education funding formula system is ineffective in ensuring that state money is adequately and equitability distributed.”  -  Sen. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh) News Brief 4/15/13

"There is widespread interest in seeing locally produced natural gas used locally to benefit our area businesses and homeowners." -  Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) News Brief 4/8/13

"The number one issue in Pennsylvania right now is jobs, and most jobs are created by small and medium-sized businesses. The fastest way to break up a successful small business is to impose a tax when the owner dies and tries to transfer that business to his family."  -  Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware) News Brief 3/18/13

"After 9/11, we figured out that we could neither physically or financially guard every possible target or point of vulnerability against every contingency. As a nation, we determined how to stretch security to protect against the most likely threats. In the case of schools, the system is fragmented among many state agencies, so our focus must be directed toward coordination and communication to eliminate redundancies and ensure dollars are not being wasted."  -  Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Chair Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) News Brief 2/19/13

"Today marks the beginning of the Commonwealth's annual appropriations process. The governor's budget address lays out his framework for how the Commonwealth will meet the constitutional requirement of a balanced budget. Beginning Tuesday, February 19th and continuing through March 6th, the Senate Appropriations Committee will hold public hearings to thoroughly review each facet of the governor's proposal."  -  Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jake Corman (R-Centre) News Brief 2/11/13

"The committee will be free to examine all issues surrounding cases of violence from firearm issues to bullying and mental health. I believe this committee will provide meaningful direction and help the legislature address many of the complex issues surrounding mass shootings."  -  Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery) News Brief 2/4/13

"There are non-monetary steps that the state can take to help school districts with costs, including reviewing state special ed class size requirements and assisting with alternative dispute resolution options that lower legal costs. The shrinking of mental health services due to human service funding cuts is also hurting our school districts, and something that needs to be considered as we enter the process of passing a state budget."  -  Sen. Ted Erickson (R-Delaware) News Brief 1/28/13

"Pennsylvania's economy has been stagnant and the revenues coming in have not been as strong as they should be. We have a lot of tough fiscal decisions to make. We've had a couple of tough budgets in a row and unfortunately we are going to have to face it again. We have to live within our means and accept the fiscal reality facing state government."  -  Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R-Venango) News Brief 1/22/13


"This trust is not intended to support programs that are funded by existing revenues – such as our veterans' homes. Instead, it will allow us to do more to help the extensive outreach efforts that the veterans' groups and the department have underway."  - Senator Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) News Brief 10/15/12

"This legislation does not require the state or SSHE to lease or sell any property rights. It simply provides a new opportunity to generate revenue, while helping students, supporting Pennsylvania's environmental protection efforts and boosting our state economy through the creation of new jobs." - Sen. Don White (R-Indiana) News Brief 10/1/12

"I remain committed to the same basic principles that I used as my guide as a state representative. I believe in transparency and the public's right to know what is going on in state government and exactly how their tax money is being spent." - Senator Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny) News Brief 9/24/12

"We are setting a course for putting Pennsylvania's fiscally distressed school districts back on a track to recovery, but more importantly, we are establishing a long-term solution, not just a short-term bailout."  Senate Education Committee Chairman Jeffrey Piccola (R-Dauphin) News Brief 6/25/12

"We are reaching a critical time when the force is seeing many retirements, and we need to make certain that we have troopers trained and ready to take their place in protecting our communities – many of which rely solely on the State Police for law enforcement."  Sen. John Rafferty (R-Montgomery) News Brief 6/18/12

"Throughout the redistricting process, my primary concern has been that residents in every area of the Commonwealth are fairly represented and that district lines are based on accurate population fluctuations. I commend Judge McEwen, Senator Pileggi and House commission members for supporting a Senate map that is balanced and well within the parameters set forth in the Constitution."  Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) News Brief 6/11/12

"Charlie will be remembered for numerous accomplishments, including helping community organizations, reforming elder laws to protect the dignity of senior citizens, and championing living will legislation. He was a dedicated public servant, a true friend and a delight to have served with." - Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) News Brief 6/4/12

"This budget is sustainable and balanced. It reflects a less than 2 percent increase over last year, and is still smaller than the budget passed in 2008." - Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Jake Corman (R-Centre) News Brief 5/21/12

"Senate Bill 1296 ensures employment contracts for school superintendents receive greater public scrutiny by requiring the details of the contract to be made public. Under the new process included in the bill, both superintendents and school boards will also know upfront what the expectations are for the job and the consequences of terminating a contract prematurely." - Senate Education Committee Chairman Jeff Piccola (R-Dauphin) News Brief 5/7/12

"This issue is of such vital importance to our free society that the legislature must ensure Pennsylvania citizens have the opportunity to make their voices heard." - Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) News Brief 4/2/12

 "Our service men and women are often forced to leave their jobs in order to serve our country. It is only fitting that we provide them with the assistance to grow their businesses when they return home." -  Sen. Tommy Tomlinson (R-Bucks) News Brief 3/26/12

"This is a simple, common-sense measure to protect the integrity of the voting process, the very foundation of democracy." - Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware) News Brief 3/12/12

"By moving to this more efficient infrastructure funding plan, customers will avoid costly rate cases and receive better, more reliable service. Our utilities will save money and avoid expensive delays, expediting critical projects and saving consumers money."  - Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee Chairman Tommy Tomlinson (R-Bucks)  News Brief 2/6/12

"There are many different views and disagreements over policy about the gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale. But there is at least one thing on which there is a broad consensus – the necessity of being prepared to react and respond when something goes wrong." - Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Management Committee Chair Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) News Brief 1/23/12

"We have all recognized the need to make government more accountable and efficient. The public expects it and our economic conditions require it." - Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) News Brief 1/17/12


"In recent years, the federal government and 26 other states – including our neighboring states of Maryland, New Jersey, and Ohio – have improved their DNA collection and testing policies. Pennsylvania has not. This bill updates our law to ensure that Pennsylvania investigators have access to the most efficient scientific tools to fight crime." - Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware) News Brief 12/12/11

"Through a reasonable and well-thought-out impact fee on shale companies, we can manage this tremendous resource in a way that improves our economy, creates new jobs and opportunities for our residents and protects our quality of life.” -  Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) News Brief 12/5/11

"Texting is one of the most dangerous distracted driving activities that motorists engage in. When you text, you have to take your eyes off the road, you aren't paying attention, and the consequences can be deadly." -  Sen. Tommy Tomlinson (R-Bucks) News Brief 11/14/11

"Members in the House have consistently said that they would consider a school choice bill if one is referred to their chamber. It's now time to seize that opportunity. I'm hopeful the Governor will vigorously engage on Senate Bill 1 and my colleagues in the House will move this legislation to his desk in a dramatic fashion." - Senate Education Committee Chairman Jeffrey Piccola (R-Dauphin) News Brief 10/31/11

"The state will have to invest at least an additional $2 billion annually to meet our transportation infrastructure needs, and the cost to repair our infrastructure grows with each passing year. We can't continue to ignore these pressing challenges, which are directly related to public safety and economic development." - Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jake Corman (R-Centre) News Brief 10/24/11

"There was one case where $4 million in state money went to a $2 million project and because it went to prevailing wage, it increased the price of that project by close to $2 million – it essentially threw away $2 million in state funds." - Sen. Lloyd Smucker (R-Lancaster) News Brief 10/17/11

"I am surprised and appalled that taxpayer dollars were used to pay for these things." - Sen. Pat Vance (R-Cumberland) News Brief 10/4/11

"We have a bipartisan commitment to helping our residents and local officials get back on their feet. There is widespread damage so we need to have a good plan in place to jumpstart our recovery effort." - Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) News Brief 9/26/11

"There is no question that our current winner-take-all system for choosing electors does not reflect the diversity of Pennsylvania." - Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware)  News Brief 9/19/11

"Approximately 45,000 unemployed Pennsylvanians who currently qualify for federal extended benefits would have been dropped from the unemployment rolls, so I am extremely pleased we reached agreement." - Senate Labor and Industry Committee Chairman John Gordner (R-Columbia) News Brief 6/20/11

"Under the Federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, states have the authority to prohibit certain abortion coverage in these health plans and we intend to exercise that power." - Sen. Don White (R-Indiana) News Brief 6/13/11

"Underage drinking is a serious matter, and we don't want to give minors a free pass. But if kids are in trouble and need medical attention, we don't want to discourage those who can help them from seeking assistance." - Sen. John Rafferty (R-Montgomery) News Brief 6/6/11

"I hope we can get this bill to the governor's desk very soon.  It's imperative that we be proactive to stop the spread of these dangerous drugs." - Sen. Elder Vogel (R-Beaver) News Brief 5/23/11

"This is a critical piece of legislation to protect victims of sexual violence. I hope that the House of Representatives will finally send this bill to the governor's desk." - Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery) News Brief 5/9/11

"For too long the General Assembly has carried an amount of taxpayer money in a reserve account that exceeds the necessary total. It is my belief that this legislation institutes the appropriate balance needed to continue operations in case of a budget impasse." - Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) News Brief 5/2/11

"An important element of proper oversight is monitoring the growing network of gas pipelines. Transporting the gas requires extensive infrastructure. Federal regulations set standards for siting, construction, and maintenance, but some public entity has to oversee and enforce those standards." - Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) News Brief 4/11/11

"The cost drivers in our budget are medical assistance, prisons and pension obligations, all of which are growing far greater than the rate of inflation and our revenues. Therefore, everything else in the budget continues to get squeezed." - Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jake Corman (R-Centre) News Brief 4/4/11

"If we get through this budget without tax increases, and with responsible spending, we can set our state up to be a leader in this nation for decades to come." - Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) News Brief 3/14/11

"I am eager to continue working with my colleagues in both chambers of the Legislature and the Corbett Administration to bring this transformative change and competition to our schools once and for all. It has been over a decade since this issue was last publicly debated and addressed in Pennsylvania, and our families shouldn't have to wait any longer for this opportunity." - Senate Education Committee Chairman Jeffrey Piccola (R-Dauphin) News Brief 3/7/11

"The Governor took the appropriate action in repealing the policy. As I outlined in my letter to Governor Rendell last November, the policy was irresponsible, and could potentially cost Pennsylvania taxpayers tens of millions of dollars from the impairment of existing contracts." - Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee Chair Mary Jo White (R-Venango) News Brief 2/28/11

"This bill isn't the answer to all of our state's transportation and infrastructure problems, but it is a positive and proactive step we can take now to start addressing those concerns." - Senate Transportation Committee Chairman John Rafferty (R-Montgomery) News Brief 2/14/11

"We cannot allow children to remain trapped by their zip code and their income in a failing school." - Senate Education Committee Chairman Jeffrey Piccola (R-Dauphin) News Brief 2/1/11

"As we turn this new page in history, Lieutenant Governor Jim Cawley and I seek to chart a new course for Pennsylvania. Together, we are dedicated to leadership that is responsive to fiscal realities, leadership that takes on financial burdens rather than passing those burdens to the next generation, and leadership that can see beyond today's turbulence and into tomorrow's tranquility." - Gov. Tom Corbett News Brief 1/24/11


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