The Pennsylvania House of Representatives returned to Harrisburg last week to begin its fall session. Here is a rundown of what happened last week in the legislature of relevance to the business community.
State Budget Update
While the state House and Senate both passed the main budget bill signed by Gov. Shapiro on Aug. 3, lawmakers have still not reached consensus on underlying Fiscal Code legislation needed to direct approximately $1.1 billion in state funding for various programs and initiatives.
The Senate passed two code bills on Aug. 30 that would fund some of those programs but excluded funding for other initiatives identified as priorities for the Democratic House majority, who themselves have opposed the Senate’s top priorities. The lower chamber did not consider either of these bills last week, though a spokesperson for House Majority Leader Matt Bradford (D-Montgomery) told reporters on Wednesday “conversations with all parties continue in good faith.”
Probation Reform (S.B. 838)
On Tuesday, the House advanced Senate Bill 838 on second consideration.
This legislation would update and improve Pennsylvania’s probation law, including several provisions related to employment including: incentivizing individuals on probation to pursue education and job training programs; limiting when a technical violation may result in the revocation of one’s probation; and directing courts to take probationers’ work schedules into consideration when scheduling confinement.
We supported this legislation (CLICK HERE for our memo) which is now eligible for final passage as soon as this week.
COVID-19 Response Study (H.R. 143)
Also on Tuesday, the House Health Committee approved House Resolution 143.
This resolution would direct the Joint State Government Commission to develop a study on Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 response, in consultation with an advisory committee that includes employer representatives, labor representatives, health care industry representatives, education representatives, and representatives from state agencies.
We supported this resolution (CLICK HERE for our memo), which advanced in a bipartisan vote of 22-3.
Data Center Development (H.R. 143)
The House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee was expected to consider House Bill 1476 last week.
This legislation would suspend permitting for power generation intended to support the development of new data centers in Pennsylvania, conflicting with state and federal statutes that direct agencies to permit facilities that meet relevant regulatory requirements.
We opposed this bill (CLICK HERE for our memo). The committee later canceled its scheduled meeting, and the proposal did not receive a vote.