Not so fast. While not necessarily transportation related, but nonetheless worth reporting to you, is the latest in the months-long tug-of-war between the General Assembly and Governor Wolf regarding COVID related shutdowns and reopening/restarting.
Earlier this week the state Senate gave final approval to a bill that would establish in state law that extracurricular and sport reopening decisions are to be left up to the individual school districts and NOT subject to the state legislative or executive branch. However, shortly after the Senate adopted this bill by a bipartisan vote of 39-11, Governor Tom Wolf pledged to veto the bill. Last week the House adopted the same bill by a 155-47 vote.
House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre) quickly followed with a pledge of his own to hold a veto override vote as early as next week should the Governor make good on his promise. It is important to note that both the House and Senate initially passed this legislative with “veto-proof” margins, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that will carry through to a veto override vote.
Tensions are still running high in the halls of the capitol regarding the state’s response to COVID and the main reason we report this to you is that these issues and events continue to dominate that agenda and the time legislators devote while in session in Harrisburg.
Senate Transportation Committee meets. The Senate Transportation Committee held a voting meeting this week and adopted three pieces of legislation—moving them to the full Senate for consideration.
The first is a bill by Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Franklin) that would increase the penalties for persons convicted of the state’s “Move Over Law.” This law requires that motorists move to the lane opposite of active emergency response activities (police, fire, EMS, and tow truck operations) as long as it is practical and safe to do so.
The second bill was one sponsored by Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R-Clarion) that amends the state Highway Law adding language requiring PennDOT to construct and maintain all surface and subsurface drainage facilities connected with state highways within boroughs and incorporated towns with populations equal to or less than 2,500 based on the most recent decennial census.
Finally, a third bill sponsored by Sen Wayne Langerholc (R-Cambria) would increase the maximum gross weight of electric vehicles from 80,000 pounds to 82,000 pounds.
If you have any questions or want more information regarding any of these or other pieces of legislation, please contact Jason Wagner, APC Director of Government Affairs, at 717-238-2513 x111 or via email at JWagner@paconstructors.org
We’ve heard enough.* “We’ve heard enough” was the cries in the Senate this week as the Senate GOP made a parliamentary motion to cut off debate and go to an immediate vote on the controversial legislation to prevent the administration from unilaterally opting into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative or RGGI.
Some Senators made the motion to cut off debate and that later caused some harsh admonishments from Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa following the day’s events. The bill did end up passing with five Democrats joining Republicans and the chamber’s lone Independent to send the bill to the governor’s desk.
Costa called the maneuver “inappropriate” and “wrong,” saying it was reminiscent of when Senate leaders used the same tactic in 2019 to call an immediate vote on legislation ending a cash assistance program to some of the state’s poorest citizens.
But Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-Centre) countered the claims made by Democrats, arguing that the motion was not nefarious, but rather allowed under Senate rules that were adopted at the beginning of the current term.
Corman added that the Democratic amendments would not have offered any substantive policy changes to the legislation and that the bill didn’t have as much to do with climate change as Democrats suggested, but rather the issue of legislative input.
The legislation at the focus of Wednesday’s shouting match — House Bill 2025 — would require Wolf, or any governor, to get the General Assembly’s approval before implementing a cap-and-trade proposal, which Republicans have labeled a “carbon tax.”
*Note: Some excepts for this article were copied from a story published by Pennsylvania Legislative Services