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In this Email Update:
Governorís veto of budget-related measure cost local schools nearly $10 million in construction reimbursement
The governorís latest veto, issued on April 4, 2016, will cost 18 out of the 21 school districts located in the 29th Senatorial District nearly $10 million in reimbursement for construction projects.
Under the stateís Planning and Construction Workbook, otherwise known as PlanCon, school districts receive a portion of funding for new construction and renovation projects from the state. Seven Berks County school districts in the 29th Senatorial District were set to receive the reimbursement under the stateís PlanCon program based on the passage of a budget-related bill, known as the Fiscal Code.
Eleven school districts in Schuylkill County are waiting for $5,905,804.18 in reimbursement from the state. You can see a complete list of affected schools in Schuylkill County here.
Seven school districts in the 29th District portion of Berks County are waiting for $4,057,552.84 in reimbursement from the state. You can see a complete list of affected schools in Berks County here.
Under previous law, our school districts had every reason to expect this funding, which is why I voted to release these dollars to the school districts. Unfortunately, the governorís veto will require school districts to wait even longer. Iím hopeful that we can resolve this issue soon.
You can read more about the state budget at www.SenatorArgall.com/Budget.
Corrections spending study approved by committee
A measure I sponsored to review mandatory corrections overtime costs was unanimously approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.
Senate Resolution 263 would direct the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to study the rising costs related to mandatory overtime spending within the Department of Corrections. The resolution will study staffing shortages within the department and compare the cost of mandatory overtime to hiring additional corrections officers.
Mandatory overtime is not just a concern for taxpayers, itís a concern for corrections officers who are forced to spend less time with their families and more time at the state prisons. Itís not just a morale issue, itís a public safety issue.
Learn more about my efforts here.
Bill providing more openness to contract negotiations sent to governor
Continuing the Senate Republican Caucusís ongoing efforts to increase accountability and transparency of state government activities, the Senate gave final approval on Wednesday to a measure that will give the public greater access to contract negotiations involving government and public employees.
Senate Bill 644 now goes to the governorís desk. The bill requires the Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) to complete a cost analysis of proposed collective bargaining agreements under the governorís jurisdiction prior to the execution of those contracts.
Under this measure, the governor would be required to give the IFO advance notice of pending contracts so the agency could determine the costs to cover public employee wages, benefits, pensions, and working conditions under the proposed agreement. This will ensure that the public knows how the full costs of these labor agreements would impact the Commonwealth. It is also vital information that we in the General Assembly need to develop a balanced state budget.
Two other bills received final legislative approval this week and were sent to the governor.
Senate Bill 526 amends the Second Class Township Code regarding completion and publication of the annual township report and financial statement. The measure allows second class townships to publish more concise financial information which will reduce advertising expenses.
House Bill 1340 amends Title 68 (Real and Personal Property) with technical clarifications to the Uniform Planned Community Act (UPCA) and the Uniform Condominium Act (UCA).
House panel approves South Heidelberg sewer easement
The House State Government Committee approved my legislation on Tuesday that would convey a permanent sanitary sewer easement in South Heidelberg Township.
Senate Bill 1022 would grant a permanent sewer easement and a temporary construction easement in South Heidelberg Township to run a sewer line through Wernersville State Hospital grounds. The project is expected to reduce water infiltration into the old hospital lines and save township taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.
This approach allows the township to complete the project in the most economical way possible.
Learn more about this proposal here.
Six bills approved, sent to the House for consideration
The Senate approved and sent to the House of the Representatives six bills this week.
Senate Bill 374 allows the Game Commission to establish time frames for the tagging and reporting of big game harvests.
Senate Bill 579 consolidates several statutes into Title 44 (Law and Justice Code) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes.
Senate Bill 847 adds a representative from the Korean War Veterans Association to the State Veterans Commission, a panel comprised of representatives from Pennsylvaniaís major veterans associations.
Senate Bill 881 amends the definition of ďpublic utilityĒ in state statute to provide an exception for a resort offering water or sewer services to private homes who take service at a point within the property boundaries of the resort.
Senate Bill 973 increases fines for littering.
Senate Bill 1104 implements changes from a June 2010 report issued by the Joint State Government Commission entitled, ďThe Probate, Estates and Fiduciaries Code: Proposed Amendments to Title 20 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes.Ē
The Senate Majority Policy Committee, which I chair, will be holding a joint public hearing with the Senate Democratic Policy Committee on job creation efforts and economic development programs on Monday, April 11 at 10:30 a.m. You can watch the hearing live on my website.
The Senate is scheduled to convene on Monday, April 11 at 1 p.m. You can watch session live and view the voting calendar on my website.