House Returns Briefly, Line Item Veto Override Attempts Fail, then Goes Home; “Some” Progress Made on Budget
The House of Representatives returned to session for one day on August 25, partly to swear in newly elected members, and to attempt to override the Governor’s veto of the FY 2015-16 appropriations bill. Having accomplished the task of refilling its complement of members, House Republicans proceeded to call for votes on more than a dozen different individual line items, rather than voting to reverse the entire veto. In each case Democrats held tight and prevented all of the votes from being successful, as a 2/3 vote was required. While Republicans appealed to the need to help social service organizations, school districts and others that are or soon will be struggling as the two-month old budget impasse continues, Democrats argued that the moves were unconstitutional, bolstered by an advisory letter from the Legislative Reference Bureau, and not productive toward getting a full budget done. The House then adjourned again until September 21, or when a budget deal is reached with the Governor and the Senate, whichever comes first. At this point, the smart money is on September 21.
Meanwhile, House and Senate leaders continue to meet with the Governor to end the impasse. Earlier this month the Republicans conveyed a “take it or leave it” proposal to deal with pensions and school funding that have been major sticking points. They met during the day on August 25, while the House held Caucus meetings. When the Governor told them he needed more time to consider the proposal, the House returned and held the veto override votes. It remains to be seen if the Governor will accept the proposal or return a counter, but the fact that they are talking is seen by some as a measure of progress.
5 New Members Sworn In During One Day House Session
Five new members took the oath of office in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives on August 25, filling unexpired terms of members who resigned earlier this year. The new members are Democrats Leanne Krueger-Braneky of Delaware County, Ed Neilson, Joanna McClinton, and Donna Bullock from Philadelphia, and Greg Rothman, a Republican from Cumberland County. McClinton was elected to serve out the term of Ron Waters, who resigned over the summer after pleading guilty to charges of illegally accepting gifts in exchange for votes. McClinton had served as chief of staff to Philadelphia state Sen. Anthony H. Williams Bullock replaces Michelle Brownlee, who also resigned after entering a guilty plea in the same case. Neilson, a former Philadelphia city councilman who previously served in the House until his seat was moved in reapportionment, was elected to replace John Sabatina Jr., who is now a senator. Swarthmore businesswoman Krueger-Braneky is filling the Delaware County seat of Republican Joe Hackett, who resigned in the spring to return to law enforcement. Krueger-Braneky’s win slightly narrowed the historically large Republican majority, where Republicans still control 119 seats of the 203 seats. Rothman is a realtor. One more special election remains in the Senate, to be held in November, to fill the term of Democrat Sen. Matt Smith, who resigned this year as well.
Department of Labor and Industry Holds Public Meeting on the International Code Council
On Wednesday August 26th the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry held an informational meeting concerning the International Code Council (ICC) for potential stakeholders. The meeting was designed to introduce the basic details of the ICC and open the floor to potential stakeholders who might have comments or questions and it went very smoothly. The ICC is a 501c 6 nonprofit that provides custom codes to a variety of state, local governments and some nations (110 in all). They operate under a $60 million annual budget as well as 15 codes and 8 standards that are reviewed and renewed triennially.
During the meeting the ICC laid out what it could provide for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The ICC would administer complete editorial, proofreading and layout of the Commonwealth’s customized code as well as graphic design support and printing and distribution services. In addition there would be free webinars provided that would describe code changes and emerging problems.
Legislative Activity
The General Assembly acted on the following bills of interest to PSPE in the past month. 
HB 1192 RE: 2015-16 Budget (by Rep. Bill Adolph, et al)
The bill is the House Republicans’ FY 2015-16 spending plan, which Gov. Wolf vetoed in its entirety on June 30.
Removed from the table, 8/25/2015
14 Line item veto override motions failed, 8/25/2015 (115-83) 
HB 1486 RE: STEMM Pathways Initiative Act (by Rep. Curtis Thomas, et al)
Establishes the STEMM Pathways Initiative  program and the STEMM Opportunity Fund and confers powers and imposes duties on the Department of Education to provide grants to STEMM Centers and provide scholarships. Provides for the commission of the STEMM Opportunity Fund and appropriates $30 million for fiscal year 2016-17 for implementation of the program. Lays out guidelines for centers, educational councils and dispersal of grants and scholarships. Effective July 1, 2016 or immediately, whichever is later.
Introduced and referred to House Education Committee, 8/10/2015
HB 1487  RE: Budget Impasses (by Rep. Marguerite Quinn, et al)
Amends the Fiscal Code, in procedure for the disbursement of money from the State Treasury, providing for payments to political subdivisions due to budget impasse and for investments through line of credit to political subdivisions due to budget impasse. When the Commonwealth has not enacted a general appropriation act on or before the beginning of the State fiscal year, a budget impasse shall be deemed to have occurred. If a budget impasse does not conclude within thirty days, each political subdivision shall be entitled to be reimbursed from the Commonwealth for all or a portion of interest payments associated with any short-term debt incurred by the political subdivision necessary to prevent interruption of State-authorized program service delivery during a period of budget impasse that does not conclude within thirty days. Additionally, each political subdivision shall be entitled to recover all or a portion of its net loss incurred as a consequence of any sale or liquidation of investment assets necessary to prevent interruption of State-authorized program service delivery during a period of budget impasse that does not conclude within thirty days. The Treasury Department may make available from the Treasury Department’s short-term investment pool to political subdivisions a line of credit to prevent the interruption of State-authorized program service delivery as a consequence of a budget impasse that does not conclude within thirty days.
Introduced and referred to House Finance Committee, 8/13/2015
Cosponsor Memo Filed
HCO2221 (Petri) – Provides language to hold harmless the funds currently being distributed by the natural gas impact fee & distributes the funds in accordance with existing law with additional revenue to the general fund for pensions and education.
Filed, 8/3/2015
Upcoming Meetings of Interest
Some House Committee meetings and session can be viewed online at:
Senate Committee meetings and session can be streamed at:
House and Senate Fall Session schedule
The House and Senate are recessed until a resolution of the budget is reached. Tentatively, the bodies are scheduled to return on the following days.
September            21, 22, 23, 28, 29, 30
October                 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 26, 27, 28
November            16, 17, 18
December             7, 8, 9
September            14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 28 (NV), 29, 30
October                 5, 6, 7, 19, 20, 21, 26, 27, 28
November            16, 17, 18, 23, 24, 25 (NV)
December             7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16
Copies of all bills of interest can be accessed here.