State Senate expects busy fall session
Both chambers of the General Assembly return to Harrisburg from their summer recesses Monday. Here’s a look at what the Senate hopes to accomplish, courtesy of Erik Arneson, spokesman for Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-9, of Chester:
The Senate Appropriations Committee is likely to meet Monday to begin constructing the fall calendar, Arneson said. No final votes are anticipated for Monday; few, if any, will occur on Tuesday.
Perhaps the biggest issue awaiting state lawmakers is legislation to aid the School District of Philadephia. A bill implementing a $2 tax on Philadelphia cigarette sales is pending. The tax would provide funding Philly school officials say is necessary to get through the year without layoffs.
“We’re very optimistic that an agreement will be reached soon on the issue of the Philadelphia cigarette tax, which will provide needed funding to the Philadelphia School District,” Arneson wrote in an email. “HB 1177 is the House right now. Discussions continue to determine the best way to get that bill to the Governor’s desk as quickly as possible.”
Arneson described discussion on pension reform and liquor reform — two priorities of Republican Gov. Tom Corbett — as “ongoing.” The House passed a liquor reform bill last year, but it has not gained the necessary support in the Senate. Various bills have sought to ease the state’s ballooning public pension obligations.
“At this point, no plan has been developed on either issue that has 102 votes in the House and 26 votes in the Senate,” Arneson wrote.
Arneson said several “high-profile” bills could receive votes during the next four weeks, including legislation legalizing medical marijuana, amending the state’s Open Records law, revising the Act 47 distressed municipalities law and addressing rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft.
Altogether, Arneson said hundreds of bills could see possible action this fall. He noted 68 new laws were enacted during this same stretch last year.