Summary Legislative Activity | February 2023
Phillips-Hill and Rothman introduce reform to hold state agencies accountable
Sens. Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York) and Greg Rothman (R-Cumberland/Dauphin/Perry) introduced legislation they say will reduce and reform the state’s regulatory process, holding state agencies transparent and accountable.
Senate Bill 350 would require every state agency to post all permits issued on its publicly accessible website. State agencies would also be required to create an accessible tracking system for applicants to check the status of their applications and clearly state the legal authority that the agency relies on when rejecting a permit application.
“The status quo punishes job creators, farmers, non-profits, local governments, and Pennsylvania taxpayers,” Phillips-Hill said. “By cutting down on permitting delays and bureaucratic red tape, we can avoid significant costly subsidies footed by taxpayers, and, more importantly, we can compete for jobs and businesses once again to grow our economy and provide opportunities for the next generation.”
The tracking system must include processing time, dates of each permit, completeness review, technical review, elevated review, and an estimated time remaining for each incomplete phase of the permit approval process. In addition, a contact person will be assigned to answer any questions about the application process.
The legislation would require state agencies to contract with third-party professional entities at any point a permit is subject to a decision delay.
“Businesses and individuals around the state are often forced to wait lengthy and unknown amounts of time for a permit while their projects and livelihoods suffer. This legislation would give certainty to applicants and ensure maximum transparency from government,” Rothman said.
State agencies would have to submit an annual report to the General Assembly documenting how many applications it reviewed, the average timeframe for permit decisions, number of applications reviewed by third-party reviewers and the number of employees who reviewed the permit applications in each regional office.
The bill was referred to the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee for its consideration.
Special Elections Lead to Democrat Majority in PA House; McClinton Elected Speaker
As expected, the Democrat candidates swept all three seats in heavily Democrat districts in special elections in Allegheny County on February 7.
Joe McAndrew replaced long-time House Dem Tony DeLuca in 32nd House District. Rep DeLuca passed away in October, but won re-election anyway, forcing the special. Abigail Salisbury will serve in 34th House District to replace Summer Lee who resigned the seat when she was sworn in to serve in Congress.
Finally, Matthew Gergely won in the 35th House District to replace Austin Davis, who is now serving as Lt. Governor. The special elections gave the Democrats back 102 seat majority out of the 203 seats in PA House that they had won in November when they were sworn in on February 21. Also, on February 27, Northumberland County Republican Rep. Lynda Culver resigned her House seat, and was sworn in to the 27th Senate district seat, after she, too, won a special election.
On February 28, House Speaker Mark Rozzi (D-Berks), elected to the post on January 3, resigned the Speaker’s chair and endorsed Democrat Leader Joanna McClinton (D-Philadelphia) to succeed him. The House Republicans, who had 100 seats to the Democrats’ 102, again offered Rep. Carl Metzgar (R-Somerset) to be their Speaker candidate on the floor. After the votes were taken, McClinton defeated Metzgar by a 102-99 vote, and was declared Speaker - the first female, and second African-American, to occupy the highest office in the state House. Democrats then broke for Caucus, and returned to announce a reshuffled leadership team, and announced they would be introducing new Rules to govern how legislation will be considered in the House. Some of the changes are expected to be brand new, reflecting to a degree the work of the six-member, bipartisan task force that traveled around the state seeking input from constituents on how to make the legislative process more fair and transparent.
The new House Democrat leadership team is as follows:
Speaker – Joanna McClinton (Philadelphia)
Majority Leader – Matt Bradford (Montgomery)
Whip – Dan Miller (Allegheny)
Caucus Chair – Mike Schlossberg (Lehigh)
Policy Committee Chair – Ryan Bizzarro (Erie)
Caucus Administrator – Leanne Krueger (Delaware)
Caucus Secretary – Tina Davis (Bucks)
This Month in PA Bulletin
The following bills and co-sponsorship memos for bills to be introduced of interest to PSPE were acted on by the General Assembly this past month.
Environmental Building Standards
SB 206 RE: Carbon Monoxide Alarm Standards in Lodging Establishments Act (by Sen. Wayne Fontana, et al)
Requires an approved carbon monoxide alarm to be installed in any establishment that uses a fossil-fuel-burning heater, fireplace or appliance or has an attached garage within 18 months of the effective date; directs the owner of the lodging establishment to provide for the maintenance, repair or replacement of an approved carbon monoxide alarm and the alarm's batteries; further provides for enforcement.
Introduced and referred to Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee, 2/21/2023
SB 339 RE: Radon Remediation Act (by Sen. Christine Tartaglione, et al)
Provides for testing for dangerous levels of radon and remediation measures in school buildings, residential buildings, residential homes and commercial buildings and imposes penalties. Directs the board of school directors to ensure each school district conducts a radon test in each school building with guidelines for completion by specified deadlines. Requires remediation measures no later than 10 business days before the start of the school year, which would provide information from the radon test to parents or guardians. Provides the board of school directors shall continue to conduct radon tests in each school building of the school district every five years after the initial radon tests, providing for test results and certification. Directs landlords to conduct radon tests in dwelling units, providing for deadlines and remediation measures in which landlords inform prospective tenants. Directs landlords to continue subsequent radon tests every five years after the initial tests, as well as provides for test results and certification. Directs residential home sellers to conduct radon tests, providing for deadlines and remediation measures in which sellers must inform potential buyers. Instructs sellers to continue subsequent radon tests every five years after the initial tests, as well as provides for test results and certification. Requires owners of commercial buildings to conduct radon tests by specified deadlines, providing for remediation measures that provide notice to the general public, subsequent tests five years after the initial test, test rules, and certificates. Directs the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to adopt rules and regulations for the enforcement of the Radon Remediation Act. Provides that an individual in violation of any provision of the act or rules and regulations adopted by DEP under Section 7 may be subject to 29 U.S.C. 651 et. seq. (Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970).
Introduced and referred to Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, 2/10/2023
SB 364 RE: Erosion and Sediment Control Act (by Sen. Camera Bartolotta, et al)
Provides definitions for administratively complete, conservation district, department, earth disturbance, expedited application, licensed professional, oil and gas activities, and permit. Provides for erosion and sediment control permits by requiring a permit application for a project involving oil and gas that will cause five acres or more of earth disturbance at one time; applications shall be reviewed and issued by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) or a conservation district. Permit applications shall have a $500 administrative filing fee, plus an additional $100 per disturbed acre. DCNR shall submit quarterly reports to the General Assembly on the act's implementation. DCNR shall annually commission an evaluation of the permit process and monitor consistency in application review timeframes, adherence by DCNR and conservation district permit review staff to protocols, the sufficiency of available professional training for permit review staff and the regulated community, and recommendations for improving the permit review process.
Introduced and referred to Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, 2/21/2023
SB 382 RE: Groin Structures (by Sen. Dan Laughlin, et al)
Amends the Dam Safety and Encroachments Act, further providing for definitions for groin structure and directs the Department of Environmental Protection not to charge a license fee for a person to construct, repair, replace, operate, maintain or remove a groin structure at a licensed premises.
Introduced and referred to Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, 2/21/2023
SB 195 RE: Low-Impact Home-Based Business Activity (by Sen. Tracy Pennycuick, et al)
Amends the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, in general provisions, further providing for definitions; and, in zoning, further providing for low-impact home-based business activity requirements and zoning ordinance permissions in cases of a disaster emergency, loss or damage to a regular business location.
Introduced and referred to Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee, 2/21/2023
SB 406 RE: Third Party Agencies in Codes Enforcement (by Sen. Dan Laughlin, et al)
Amends the Pennsylvania Construction Code, in adoption and enforcement by municipalities, to further provide for administration and enforcement. Adds language allowing a municipal code official to utilize third-party agencies to supplement the municipal code enforcement program's plan review and inspections services or to utilize third-party agencies to perform plan review and inspection services in categories its program does not possess the necessary personnel to administer. Establishes that two or more municipalities may provide for joint administration and enforcement of the act through an inter-municipal agreement under certain circumstances. Further provides for administration and enforcement by third-party agencies.
Introduced and referred to Senate Labor and Industry Committee, 2/21/2023
SB 350 RE: Permit Administration Act (by Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill, et al)
Requires state agencies to compile, maintain and make available a complete list of all types of permits issued by the state agency within 90 days of the effective date. Establishes a secure tracking system for applicants to track the status of applications on the state agency's publicly accessible internet website within 180 days of the effective date. A state agency has five business days after receiving an application to notify the applicant of the receipt and provide information on how to use the tracking system. Provides for the tracking system's contents and a notice requirement by the state agency to the applicant when the application is found incomplete or technically deficient. Provides for time limits for notification by the state agency of the applicant of an incomplete or technically deficient application. Adds the requirement that state agencies should notify a permit holder of the expiration or changes to the permit within 60 days before it expires. Provides for the validity of the permits. Adds a third-party review of permit decision delays within 180 days of the effective date. Provides that the state agency partners with a third-party professional to review any permit decision delays. Requires an annual report by a state agency to the General Assembly no later than January 31 of each year. Provides for report requirements to include the number of applications received and reviewed, the average time frame for permit decisions, number of applications reviewed by a third-party professional, average time frame of a third-party professional review, and the number of state agency employees reviewing the applications.
Introduced and referred to Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee, 2/2/2023
SR 9 RE: Keystone XL Pipeline (by Sen. Wayne Langerholc, et al)
A Resolution urging the President of the United States to restart and expedite the completion of the Keystone XL pipeline.
Reported as committed from Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, and read first time, 2/27/2023
SB 359 RE: Construction Material Price Escalation (by Sen. Devlin Robinson, et al)
Amends Title 62 (Procurement), in procurement organization, further providing for powers and duties of Department of General Services (DGS) by giving DGS power to adjust the prices of construction material line items within a contract. Provides for limited contract adjustment due to construction material price escalation and adds conditions for adjustment authorizations for DGS to determine if bid was submitted earlier than March 15, 2020, if the bid was not submitted later than the effective date of the paragraph, and the cost of acquisition of construction material at the time of the application. Adds the application process and application requirements shall include sufficient documentary evidence, as determined by DGS, and the contract shall conform to the conditions.
Introduced and referred to Senate Labor and Industry Committee, 2/16/2023
SB 415 RE: Restarting PlanCon (by Sen. Tim Kearney, et al)
Amends Public School Code, in construction and renovation of buildings by school entities, further providing for maintenance program. Provides that no grant award for maintenance project may exceed $3 million, replacing $1 million. Provides that for fiscal years 2023-24, 2024-25, and 2025-26, any amount appropriated for school building projects shall be used exclusively for the program. Removes language providing that no less than 20 percent of the funds allocated shall be awarded to projects that enhance school building safety and security.
Introduced and referred to Senate Education Committee, 2/21/2023
Cosponsor memo filed
SCO 684 (Kane) - Improvements to the Construction Worker Misclassification Act Amends the Construction Worker Misclassification Act to address worker misclassification and punish those who violate the act.
SCO 706 (Kane) - Worker Misclassification Task Force Recommendations Expands and improves existing Worker Misclassification protections across many industries based on recommendations from the Joint Task Force on Misclassification of Employees.
Cosponsor memos filed
SCO 724 (Brooks) - Association Health Plans Provides a mechanism for employers to join together to offer quality health insurance as a benefit for their employees, some for the first time.
Upcoming Meetings of Interest
Some House Committee meetings and session can be viewed online at: http://www.pahousegop.com/
Senate Committee meetings and session can be streamed at: http://www.pasenategop.com/
2023 Spring House Session Days
March 1, 6, 7, 8
April 24, 25, 26
May 1, 2, 3, 22, 23, 24
June 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 14, 20, 21, 22, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30
2023 Spring Senate Session Days
March 1, 6, 7, 8
April 24, 25, 26
May 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10
June 5, 6, 7, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30
State Registration Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors and Geologists
All Board meetings are held in person and remotely via Teams. https://www.dos.pa.gov/ProfessionalLicensing/BoardsCommissions/EngineersLandSurveyorsandGeologists/Pages/General-Board-Information.aspx#.VHNkfFZOk5s
2023 Meeting Dates
- March 17
- May 25
- July 21
- September 28
- November 8
Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee | 3/8/23
10:00 a.m., Room 461, Main Capitol
SB 188 (DiSanto) - Amends the Regulatory Review Act, further providing for definitions, for proposed regulations and procedures for review and for final-form regulations and final-omitted regulations and procedures for review; and
SB 190 (Brooks) - Amends Regulatory Review Act, further providing for definitions and for existing regulations
L&I: Uniform Construction Code Review and Advisory Council Virtual Meeting
Next meeting date | March 16, 2023
Individuals can join the virtual meetings by means of Zoom. The virtual meeting ID is 991 2180 9216. The passcode is 170867.
Questions concerning these virtual meetings may be directed to Kristen Gardner at (717) 346-1497.
All meetings are scheduled to begin at 10 AM. https://www.dli.pa.gov/ucc/Pages/UCC-Review-and-Advisory-Council.aspx
State Geospatial Coordinating Board
1 Technology Park, Commonwealth Technology Center (CTC), Harrisburg, PA 17110
1:30 PM – 3:00 PM
2023 Meeting Schedule:
- March 16
- June 8
- August 10
- November 16
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Contact Your State Rep and Ask them to Support Senate Bill 403
Senate Bill 403, formerly House Bill 1801, amends the Registration Act for Professional Engineers to address several cumbersome provisions that impede licensing. Currently, an applicant to be granted licensure as a professional engineer must hold an engineer-in-training certificate and show proof of four or more years of experience in engineering work performed after the issuance of their engineer-in-training certificate. In some cases, an individual may have the years of required experience and training, but it may have occurred prior to them obtaining their engineer-in-training certificate in Pennsylvania. This bill allows for the experience earned prior to the passage of the EIT to apply as well as some other updates to the Act that more closely align with the national model law adopted by NCEES. It also clarifies that the “practice of engineering” is not limited to only those projects that involve a “design”. Take Action Now.
Advocate to End Licensing Exemptions
Call your members of Congress and support ending licensing exemptions on public utility pipelines. The National Transportation Safety Board’s report on the deadly pipeline explosion in Massachusetts in September 2018 calls for a significant legislative change that NSPE has strongly advocated for years: elimination of professional engineer licensure exemptions. Take action now.