Senate Weekly Session Wrap
Important Harrisburg Happenings:
Bill Provides Independent Counsel for Environmental Board
The Senate approved Senate Bill 85, which requires the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to provide independent counsel to the Environmental Quality Board.
The Environmental Quality Board (EQB) is a 20-member panel established by Act 275 of 1970 to do the following: develop a Master Environmental Plan for the Commonwealth; formulate, adopt and promulgate rules and regulations as necessary to accomplish the DEP's work; and review reports and advise the DEP on matters of policy.
Currently, an attorney from DEP's chief counsel's office serves as counsel to the board. However, the assigned counsel has refused to assist members of the board when matters before the board are contrary to the position of DEP and parliamentary questions are not kept confidential.
SB 85 is not intended to require the hiring of a new attorney but to impose a duty on the attorney assigned to assist the board and to maintain the attorney-client privilege with its members.
The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Approves Recycling, Waste Tire Clean-up Bill
The Senate unanimously approved legislation on Wednesday to maintain financial support for the state's recycling efforts and to clean up waste tire piles across the Commonwealth.
House Bill 961 amends the Municipal Waste Planning, Recycling and Waste Reduction Act to extend authorization of the $2 per-ton recycling fee charged to waste haulers through January 1, 2020.
The bill also transfers $1.25 Million from the Recycling Fund to the Used Tire Pile Remediation Restricted Account for FY 2009-2010 through FY 2012-2013 for the remediation of waste tire piles throughout the Commonwealth.
The bill returns to the House of Representatives for concurrence on Senate amendments.
Senate Acts to Ban Automated Bulk Ticket Buying Software
In a move sure to be applauded by concert and professional sports enthusiasts, the Senate approved House Bill 464, legislation intended to protect Pennsylvania consumers from being victimized by automated ticket-buying software.
The legislation will ban the use of software bypassing online ticket sale protection systems. By using this software, mass purchasers are able to buy tickets to concerts and live sporting events faster than the general public can access them.
They order hundreds of tickets instantly, selling out venues and shutting out individuals actually standing in line to buy tickets or who are attempting to purchase tickets online for their own use. The perpetrators then can market the tickets to the public at inflated prices.
The bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.
Senate Authorizes Honor Guard at Washington Crossing National Cemetery
The Senate approved legislation providing for formal military burials for veteran soldiers at Washington Crossing National Cemetery in Bucks County.
Current law does not provide for honor guard burial details at Washington Crossing National Cemetery because it is a new cemetery. Only Indiantown Gap National Cemetery in Lebanon County and National Cemetery of the Alleghenies in Washington County are authorized for such burials.
Senate Bill 1186 expands the authority of the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to provide this honor and burial allowance to veterans buried at Washington Crossing.
The bill is now before the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee.
New National Guard Generals Promoted
The Senate unanimously confirmed the promotions of four new brigadier generals in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. Receiving promotions were: Jeffrey R. Elliott of Wernersville, Michael R. Evans of York, Timothy J. Hilty of Lebanon and Andrew P. Schafer of Dingmans Ferry.