House and Senate Return Briefly, No Progress Made on Budget
The state House and Senate, both controlled by Republicans, returned in mid-July for session days, but as no real progress had been made on resolving the state budget stalemate created by the Governor’s veto of the GOP budget passed on June 30, as well as accompanying legislation passed by the General Assembly, they retreated to home after moving just a few unrelated bills and resolutions. Talks between Gov. Wolf and the legislative leaders and staff are on-going, with both sides still dug in to their positions, while those who rely on state contracts wait to see if and for how long they will continue to be paid while the impasse lasts.
The House and Senate announced fall legislative session schedules (see later in this report), but the possibility exists that if a resolution can be found sooner, they could return in August to pass a new, agreed-to budget. To that end, the House Appropriations Chairman, Bill Adolph (R-Delaware) introduced HB 1460 , which is identical to the budget that Gov. Wolf vetoed, on July 21, and reported it out of his committee the following day. He did so to have a “vehicle” in place should there be a breakthrough, so the process could be in motion and it could pass quickly. Minority Committee Chair Joe Markosek (D-Allegheny), acknowledged the move, agreeing with the tactic, but asked his members to vote no on the substance of the bill. Consequently, it passed on a party line vote. The House will return the week of August 25, and rumors are that the Senate will as well, though dates have not been announced. Stay tuned.
State Registration Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors and Geologists’ July 8 Meeting Highlights
The State Registration Board met July 8 in Harrisburg. Here are the highlights.
- Board President Michael Brinkash, PLS, thanked all the members for attending, and for their service to the Commonwealth. He acknowledged the public in attendance, and asked for any comments. John Fuehrer, PLS, took issue with some “workbook” CE providers having little validity. Several Board members agreed. John Wanner, CAE, on behalf of PSPE, noted that PSPE is looking at the issue of EITs working construction having a tough time sitting for the exam. President Brinkash noted that at the request of Vincent Phillips, his scheduled presentation on behalf of the Soil Scientists will be postponed to a future meeting.
- President Brinkash will be attending NCEES meeting in August, with Lisa Catania, PE
- Board Prosecutor Robert Armour, Esq. presented one Consent Agreement for consideration in Executive Session
- BPOA Commissioner Ian Harlow had no report.
- Board Counsel Juan Ruiz reported on the status of several cases, to be discussed in Executive Session.
- Regulatory Counsel Tom Blackburn was not able to attend, but Ruiz reported on the status of regulations. The proposed Fee Regulation was published in the PA Bulletin on May 15. Comments will be ready for Board discussion at the September meeting. No mention was made of the Southeastern Reprographics Case. Ms. Catania asked about the status of Electronic Seals. This regulation is still in Department review, as it is being held until parallel regs for the Architects and Landscape Architects Boards are completed.
- Board members Robert Garlitz and Lisa Catania gave a report from the NCEES meeting in Hershey. Catania mentioned that there is a push at NCEES to remove engineering surveys from the PE scope. This would not be binding on PA, of course, unless the statute was changed.
- Next meeting is September 9, in Harrisburg. Remaining 2015 meetings: November 18.
Governor’s Office Publishes Regulatory Agenda
Executive Order 1996-1 requires all agencies under the jurisdiction of the Governor to submit for publication an agenda of regulations under development or consideration. Normally agendas are published on the first Saturdays in February and July. The agendas are compiled to provide members of the regulated community advanced notice of regulatory activity. It is the intention of the Administration that these agendas will serve to increase public participation in the regulatory process. Agency contacts should be contacted for more information regarding the regulation and the procedure for submitting comments. This agenda represents the Administration’s present intentions regarding future regulations. The nature and complexity of an individual regulation obviously will determine whether and when any particular regulation listed below (as well as any considered subsequent to publication of this Agenda) is published.
Department of STATE (DOS)
State Registration Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors and Geologists
|Electronic Seals and Signatures
49 Pa. Code Chapter 37
|Fall 2015, as Proposed
|In addition to updating their current regulations on seals, the three boards that regulate design professionals in this Commonwealth (including the State Architects Licensure Board, the State Registration Board for Engineers, Land Surveyors and Geologists, and the State Board of Landscape Architects) are proposing new regulations setting forth standard requirements for electronic seals and electronic signing of design documents. The goal of these proposals is to provide all design professionals with regulations that are as consistent as possible with respect to both traditional seals and electronic seals to benefit both the design professionals and their clients.
49 Pa. Code § 37.17
|Spring 2016, as Final
|Under section 9(a) of the Professional Engineer, Land Surveyor and Geologist Registration Law (63 P. S. § 156(a)) (act), the Board is required by law to support its operations from the revenue it generates from fees, fines and civil penalties. In addition, the act provides that the Board shall increase fees if the revenue raised by fees, fines and civil penalties is not sufficient to meet expenditures over a 2-year period. The current fee structure is inadequate to support the operations of the Board. This proposed rulemaking seeks to increase the biennial renewal fee for licensees from $50 to $100 so that revenues are sufficient to cover projected expenditures as required by the act.
Department of COMMUNITY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (DCED)
|Minority Business Development Authority
12 Pa. Code Chapter 81
|Fall 2015, as Proposed
|Proposed changes to the Minority Business Development Authority regulations seek to eliminate those sections of the existing regulations which impede the Pennsylvania Minority Business Development Authority’s ability to be flexible and responsive to its target market by easing loan program requirements, such as requiring loan recipients to commit to ”full-time” management of the company, and allowing more flexibility in setting loan amount caps, interest rates, job creation criteria, etc. The regulations were originally submitted on November 5, 2014 as Final-Omitted Regulations. The Final-Omitted Regulations were withdrawn and will be submitted as Proposed Regulations.
|Timothy M. Anstine
|Industrial Housing and Components
12 Pa. Code Chapter 145
|Fall/Winter 2015, as Final-Form
|Proposed changes to the Industrial Housing and Components regulations have gone through the proposed regulatory process and final regulations are set to be submitted in the spring of 2015. The changes seek to bring the regulations into compliance with a recent amendment to the Industrialized Housing Act, which extended the current standards and procedures to include commercial buildings, and to further strengthen and clarify the Department’s role in monitoring the production and installation of industrialized housing in the Commonwealth.As recommended by IRRC in its comments to the proposed rulemaking, an Advanced Notice of Final Rulemaking (ANFR) and Draft Final-Form Rulemaking were delivered to the Pennsylvania Bulletin for publication on June 27, 2015 to solicit comments on changes DCED recommends be made to the proposed rulemaking to make clear that the regulation applies to industrialized housing, buildings or housing or building components produced after the effective date of the regulation.
Department of ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION (DEP)
|Administration of Sewage Facilities Planning and Permitting Programs and Standards for Onlot Sewage Treatment Facilities
25 Pa. Code Chapters 71, 72 and 73
|Quarter 2, 2016, as Proposed
|This proposed rulemaking is targeted to allow the use of alternate systems at the planning stage for new land development.
(Pennsylvania Sewage Facilities Act Clean Streams Law)
The General Assembly acted on the following bills of interest to PSPE in July.
BIDDING / CONTRACTING
SB 953 RE: Natural Gas Infrastructure Expansion and Access Act (by Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, et al)
Intends to expand the natural gas infrastructure throughout this Commonwealth through competitive sealed bidding; and provides for powers and duties of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. The commission shall identify and designate corridors for construction of natural gas infrastructure extension and expansion projects to unserved or underserved areas and shall publish as a notice in the Pennsylvania Bulletin a listing of corridors and specifications by which a person, company or natural gas distribution utility may make a competitive sealed bid for one or more of the corridors. Any revenue raised from the bidding of corridors shall be deposited into the General Fund.
Introduced and referred to Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, 7/16/2015
BUDGET RELATED BILLS
HB 1192 RE: General Appropriation Act of 2015 (by Rep. Bill Adolph, et al)
Provides from the General Fund for the expenses of the Executive and Judicial Departments, the State Government Support Agencies and the General Assembly of the Commonwealth, the public debt and the public schools for the fiscal year July 1, 2015, to June 30, 2016, for certain institutions and organizations, and for the payment of bills incurred and remaining unpaid at the close of the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015. This bill is the House Republican Budget, not like the Governor’s proposal.
Bill, together with Governor’s Veto Message, laid on the table, 7/1/2015
HB 1460 RE: General Appropriation Act of 2015 (by Rep. Bill Adolph, et al)
Provides from the General Fund for the expenses of the Executive and Judicial Departments, the State Government Support Agencies and the General Assembly of the Commonwealth, the public debt and the public schools for the fiscal year July 1, 2015, to June 30, 2016, for certain institutions and organizations, and for the payment of bills incurred and remaining unpaid at the close of the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015; to provide appropriations from the State Lottery Fund, the Tobacco Settlement Fund, the Aviation Restricted Account, the Hazardous Material Response Fund, The State Stores Fund, the Milk Marketing Fund, the Home Investment Trust Fund, the Emergency Medical Services Operating Fund, the Tuition Account Guaranteed Savings Program Fund, the Banking Fund, the Firearm Records Check Fund, the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority Fund, the Oil and Gas Lease Fund, the Home Improvement Account, the Cigarette Fire Safety and Firefighter Protection Act Enforcement Fund, the Insurance Regulation and Oversight Fund and the Pennsylvania Racehorse Development Restricted Receipt Account, to the Executive Department; to provide appropriations from the Judicial Computer System Augmentation Account to the Judicial Department for the fiscal year July 1, 2015, to June 30, 2016; to provide appropriations from the Motor License Fund for the fiscal year July 1, 2015, to June 30, 2016, for the proper operation of several departments of the Commonwealth and the Pennsylvania State Police authorized to spend Motor License Fund moneys; to provide for the appropriation of Federal funds to the Executive Department of the Commonwealth and for the payment of bills remaining unpaid at the close of the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015. As introduced, the language is identical to the final version of HB 1192, which Gov. Wolf vetoed on June 30. It is intended as a “vehicle” to be in place when the leaders and Gov. Wolf agree on a budget deal.
Introduced and referred to House Appropriations Committee, 7/21/2015
Reported as committed from House Appropriations Committee, read first time, and rereferred to House Rules Committee, 7/22/2015
HB 1486 RE: STEMM Pathways Initiative Program (by Rep. Curtis Thomas, et al)
Act establishing the STEMM Pathways Initiative Program and the STEMM Opportunity Fund; and conferring powers and imposing duties on the Department of Education.
SB 655 RE: Fiscal Code Amendments (by Sen. Pat Browne, et al)
Amends The Fiscal Code establishing the Non-narcotic Medication Assisted Substance Abuse Treatment Grant Pilot Program; in special funds, further providing for funding, for State Workers’ Insurance Board and for expiration; in the Tobacco Settlement Fund, further providing for use; in the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development Fund, further providing for distribution; in general budget implementation, further providing for the Department of Community and Economic Development, for the Department of Public Welfare, for the Pennsylvania State Police and for the Environmental Quality Board; providing for 2015-2016 budget implementation, for 2015-2016 restrictions on appropriations for funds and accounts and for required lapses of money in funds and accounts; and making related repeals.
Bill, together with Governor’s Veto Message, laid on table, 7/13/2015
ENVIRONMENTAL BUILDING STANDARDS
HB 48 RE: Water Well Construction Standards (by Rep. Bob Godshall, et al)
Amends Title 27 (Environmental Resources) providing for the adoption of National Groundwater Association standards. Provides for water well construction standards; decommissioning of abandoned wells; water well completion reports; and inspections. Also provides for the powers and duties of the Environmental Quality Board and Department of Environmental Protection under this new chapter and for penalties for violations of this new chapter. Certain sections shall take effect after the adoption of regulations and the remainder shall take effect in 30 days.
Reported as committed from House Rules Committee, 7/21/2015
HB 1433 RE: Small Stream Maintenance Permit (By Rep. Martin Causer, et al)
Amends the Dam Safety and Encroachments Act establishing the Small Stream Maintenance Permit and authorizing county conservation districts to issue it at no cost for projects less than one acre in size. Provides for concurrent approvals and stipulates no permits shall be required for maintenance activities conducted 50 feet or less upstream or downstream of a bridge or culvert or the removal of flood-related hazards or related stream clearing activities that are deemed to be an emergency by state, county or municipal authorities or persons engaged in normal agricultural operations where the flood related hazard is located on property owned by the person.
Introduced and referred to House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, 7/6/2015
LOCAL/STATE GOVERNMENT/REGULATIONS: NONE
HB 157 RE: Military Service Waiver (by Rep. Doyle Heffley, et al)
Amends Title 51 (Military Affairs), in professional and occupational licenses, providing that military service and other related factors may be taken into consideration to determine whether a licensing or certification requirement has been met by or can otherwise be waived by reason of that military service, education, training or experience. A veteran shall only be required to meet a licensing or certification requirement which has not been met by or waived. Defines “veteran” as an individual who has served in the United States armed forces, including a reserve component and National Guard who has been discharged or released from service under conditions other than dishonorable.
Approved by the Governor, 7/10/2015. Act No. 23 of 2015
SB 964 RE: Military Spouse License Portability Act (by Sen. Rob Teplitz, et al)
Notwithstanding any other law, a licensing board shall issue a license to a military spouse to allow the military spouse to practice the military spouse’s profession or occupation in the Commonwealth if, upon application to the licensing board, the military spouse satisfies certain delineated conditions. Provides related guidelines for provisional licenses and for alternative procedures for licensure.
Introduced and referred to Senate Consumer Protection & Prof. Licensure Committee, 7/23/2015
LOCAL/PROPERTY TAX REFORM: NONE
MANDATE WAIVERS: NONE
MECHANIC’S LIEN: NONE
MINIMUM WAGE: NONE
ORGANIZATIONAL STATUS: NONE
SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION: NONE
WORKER’S COMP: NONE
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/
UPDATED 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.
Fall 2015 SENATE SESSION SCHEDULE
September 21, 22, 23, 28, 29, 30
October 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 26, 27, 28
November 16, 17, 18
December 7, 8, 9
Fall 2015 HOUSE SESSION SCHEDULE
September 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.