School Construction Study Committee Coming Down the Homestretch
For more than a year, a legislatively created committee has been examining the state’s school construction reimbursement program, known as PLANCON, in order to make recommendations regarding not just how the program could be changed, but whether or not there is a program at all. The committee was originally scheduled to finish its work by the end of May 2017. However state budget negotiations and impasse sidetracked the process and the deadline was extended to January 31, 2018. The final report will be submitted to the Legislature for consideration at that time. Legislation will still need to be enacted but the committee is comprised almost entirely of legislators including the chairs of each chambers Appropriations and Education committees. That adds political clout to the committee’s recommendations and makes legislative action somewhat more likely.
The most intense debates within the committee have centered around procurement issues like prevailing wage and separations act for construction and reuse or prototypical designs for architects and engineers. There are efforts underway to take a closer look at construction cost drivers, high performance buildings, maintenance issues and the administrative process. No final plan has been adopted yet but the development of recommendations has gone into high gear. “I’m confident that the final report will include positive suggestions on how to improve the mechanics of the process” said John Wanner, the only industry representative on the committee. “The larger question is if the legislature can find funds to help school districts pay for their construction needs.”
House Approves State Budget Reform and Controlled-Spending Package
The House, this past month, approved a package of bills Republican leaders say is designed to improve the annual state budget-crafting process by bringing integrity, transparency and spending limits to the forefront.
Each year, as part of the state budget process, the governor requests supplemental appropriations for the current fiscal year. These requests typically reflect payments that legally have to be paid, but the need for these requests can vary, including growth in the need for an entitlement program or an unexpected increase in personnel costs.
House Republicans devised and introduced a package of six bills – House Bills 1940, 1941, 1942, 1943 ,1944 , and 1945 to improve the Legislature’s ability to evaluate funding the governor’s supplemental budgetary requests by requiring a statement explaining the need for the appropriation, as well as cost-savings and/or other reforms that address the cause and need for the supplemental funding. The bills all successfully cleared the House, largely on straight party lines, and were sent to the Senate for its consideration.
The following bills of interest to PSPE have been introduced and/or acted upon in the past month.
Bidding / Contracting
SB 799 RE: Pennsylvania Clean Water Procurement Program Act (By Sen. Rich Alloway, et al)
Establishes the Pennsylvania Clean Water Procurement Program to provide for the purchase of verified TMDL nutrient credits from certified nutrient credit generators through a competitive bidding process consistent with 62 Pa.C.S. Pt. I (relating to Commonwealth Procurement Code) and any other competitive process determined to be appropriate by the Department of Environmental Protection and the State Conservation Commission; provides for powers and duties of the State Conservation Commission; and establishes the Watershed Improvement Fund. The department shall transfer the nutrient reduction mandates of a permittee to a competitive bidding program to enable all certified nutrient credit entities that can generate verified TMDL nutrient credits to participate in an RFP on a voluntary basis. In return for being absolved from the TMDL nutrient reduction mandate, the aggregate number of permittees may pay into the program $50,000,000 annually for 10 years, subject to annual adjustment. Transfer payments shall be paid into the Watershed Improvement Fund, to be used by the commission for the purchase of verified TMDL nutrient credits. Winning bids will offer 20 percent of total nutrient reduction allotment to be available for participation for 30 days by small sources that did not participate in the bidding process so that a small producer who installs a BMP can subscribe to sell their credits into this pool and receive the winning bid price absent the need to participate in the bidding process.
Reported as committed from Senate Appropriations Committee, 12/11/2017
SB 354 RE: Strengthening Licensee Reporting Requirements and Suspensions (by Sen. Tommy Tomlinson, et al)
Amends “An act empowering the General Counsel or his designee to issue subpoenas for certain licensing board activities; providing for hearing examiners in the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs; providing additional powers to the Commissioner of Professional and Occupational Affairs; and further providing for civil penalties and license suspension,” further providing for definitions; providing for reporting of sanctions and criminal proceedings and for suspension; and further providing for civil penalties. The bill requires all persons licensed, certified, or registered with the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs to report any disciplinary conduct in another jurisdiction by a licensing board or an arrest, indictment or conviction. The legislation would provide penalties for failure to report within 30 days. The legislation also provides for license suspension and hearing process and procedure.
Re-reported on concurrence as amended from Senate Rules and Executive Nominations Committee, 12/11/17
Senate concurred in House amendments, as further amended, 12/12/2017
Received as amended in House and rereferred to House Rules Committee, 12/12/2017
HB 1961 RE: PIT Tax Shift (by Rep. Christopher Rabb, et al)
Amends the Tax Reform Code reducing the personal income tax to 2.8 percent and imposing a tax of 6.5 percent on net profits; net gains or income from disposition of property; net gains or income derived from or in the form of rents, royalties, patents and copyrights; dividends; gambling and lottery winnings other than noncash prizes of the Pennsylvania State Lottery; and net gains or income derived through estates or trusts. To the extent that income or gain is subject to tax under one of the classes of income enumerated in this section such income or gain shall not be subject to tax under another of such enumerated classes.
Introduced and referred to House Finance Committee, 12/11/2017
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/
TUESDAY – 1/16/18
House Transportation Committee
1:00 p.m., Bloomsburg University of PA, Assembly Room at Monty’s (Upper Campus), 400 E. Second Street, Bloomsburg
Public hearing on the gaps that exist in a rural area regarding transportation
2018 SENATE SESSION SCHEDULE
January 2, 22, 23, 24, 29, 30, 31
February 5, 6, 7
March 19, 20, 21, 26, 27, 28
April 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, 25, 30
May 1, 2, 21, 22, 23
June 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29
2018 HOUSE SESSION SCHEDULE
January 2 (non-voting), 22, 23, 24
February 5, 6, 7
March 12, 13, 14
April 9, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18, 30
May 1, 2, 22, 23
June 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, 18, 19, 20, 21, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30
State Registration Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors and Geologists Meeting Schedule
2018 Meeting Dates: January 10, March 14, May 9, July 11, September 12, November 14
All Board meetings are held at Penn Center, 2601 N. 3rd Street, Harrisburg, PA, at 9:30 a.m.
Other meeting dates may be scheduled as needed.
Copies of all bills of interest can be accessed via the Internet at: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/session.cfm