Senate Weekly Session Wrap
A Report on the Legislative Session Week of May 7, 2012
Important Harrisburg Happenings:
Senate Sends FY 2012-13 Budget to House of Representatives
Better than anticipated revenues over the past few months enabled the Senate to pass a General Fund budget bill for Fiscal Year 2012-13 on May 9th that makes significant restorations without raising taxes. General Fund spending for Fiscal Year 2012-13, as proposed in Senate Bill 1466, is $27.656 billion, $517.2 million, or 1.9 percent, more than the Governor's budget request in February.
SB 1466 reaffirms Senate Republicans' commitment to providing Pennsylvania's young people with a quality education from the youngest ages through their college years. SB 1466 maintains state support for Pennsylvania's state-related universities, State System of Higher Education schools and community colleges at their current levels.
The budget bill also includes additional support for local school districts over what the Governor proposed in February. SB 1466 adds more than $132 million in support for basic education, Accountability Block Grants and early childhood education programs over the February proposal.
I am especially pleased that Senate Bill 1466 restores the state support for early childhood education programs to their current levels. We all recognize the importance of programs like Pre-K Counts and Head Start and the benefits they provide to children, families, schools and communities. The money we're investing today will be more than repaid over the coming years as the young people participating in these programs receive the mentoring that will enable them to become productive members of society in the future.
As co-chairman of the bi-cameral, bi-partisan Early Education Caucus, I worked to ensure that funding to restore Pre-K Counts ($4.1 million) and Head Start ($1.8) to their FY 2012-13 level was included as part of the restorations in SB 1466.
Senate Bill 1466 also reinvests significant funding to help counties and local agencies provide essential social and health services to Pennsylvanians with physical and mental disabilities, senior citizens and families.
The bill restores $84 million in funding for the various programs that would be bundled under the Governor's proposed Human Services Development Block Grant. Under his proposal, funding for multiple county administered programs would be consolidated into a single block grant.
SB 1466 restores $20 million in funding for vital Community Mental Retardation and Intellectual Disability programs that assist thousands of Pennsylvanians and their families on a daily basis. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration. The current fiscal year ends on June 30.
Senate Approves Landowner Liability Measure
The Senate approved legislation on May 7th that would limit the liability of land owners who allow hunting on their property. Senate Bill 1403 would prevent land owners from being prosecuted for Game Code violations committed by hunters who are permitted to use the property.
Under current law, land owners who allow hunting on their property, could be held responsible for violations by hunters, such as taking an animal out of season. Property owners could still be held responsible for violations if they receive a fee, payment or gratuity from the hunter. SB 1403 was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Bill to Modernize Library Code Clears Senate
Legislation to modernize the 51-year-old law governing Pennsylvania's public libraries was unanimously approved by the Senate on May 8th. At the time it was enacted, Pennsylvania's Library Code was a model for other states. However, it is now considered antiquated.
Senate Bill 1225 will:
SB 1225 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.