Allegheny County state legislative delegation activity for the week of December 11

Allegheny County state legislative delegation activity for the week of December 11

Author: Alanna Koll/Thursday, December 14, 2017/Categories: Pittsburgh

The Pennsylvania state General Assembly finished out the legislative voting year this week by passing legislation that would put restrictions on abortions and provide funding for the state’s unemployment compensation system upgrades. The House of Representatives took up, but failed to get paycheck protection legislation across the finish line. Here’s how the Allegheny County legislative delegation voted.  

Senate Bill 3- legislation that would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks of gestation and ban so-called “dismemberment abortions.” Passed the House 121-70.  

The Allegheny County House delegation voted largely along party lines with Rep. Anita Kulik (D-Coraopolis) and Rep. Joe Markosek (D-Plum Twp.) voting for the measure. Rep. Tony DeLuca was absent from the vote.  

Soon after the House passed the bill, after two days of deliberations, Gov. Wolf vowed to veto the legislation saying, “Make no mistake about it- bills like SB 3 are an attack on women’s personal freedoms, personal choice, and personal liberties. I want to be clear, when and if this legislation ultimately reaches my desk- I will veto it.”  

House Bill 1915- legislation that would provide an exit strategy for the state to get out of funding technology upgrades for unemployment compensation systems. Passed the Senate 43-5.  

The delegation voted mostly along party lines with Sen. Randy Vulakovich (R-Shaler Twp.) voting in favor. Sen. Guy Reschenthaler (R- Bethel Park) voted against the measure.  

A refusal by the Senate to take up additional funding for UC system project upgrades at the end of 2016 caused three call centers to close and 500 employees to be laid off. Under the new legislation, the state will provide $115.2 million over a four-year period for the upgrades while transitioning to a budget that has the ongoing costs of operating the system carried by federal funding of $130 million per year.  

Senate Bill 166legislation that would disallow the automatic collection of political action committee money from a unionized public employee’s paycheck, but would allow the automatic collection of dues money to be potentially earmarked for political advocacy purposes. Failed the House 90-102.  

The delegation voted along party lines with Republican members being for the measure and Democratic members against. Rep. Tony DeLuca (D-Penn Hills) was absent from the vote.  

The House also unanimously passed a bill co-sponsored by Rep. Dan Miller (D-Mt. Lebanon) this week that would call for state agencies to employ individuals with disabilities in at least seven percent of the overall state workforce.  

An oversight commission, with people who have disabilities making up more than half of its members, would set measurable goals for improving the percentage of workers with disabilities in the state under the legislation, and issue an annual progress report.  

House Bill 1641 now heads to the Senate for consideration. 

Rep. Miller was also one of only two negative votes on a piece of legislation this week that aims to reduce the state’s debt burden.  

House Bill 83 would require the principal for new issuances of state debt to be repaid in equal amounts, generally, over a 20-year term of a bond. House Speaker Mike Turzai (R-McCandless) said the legislation will help Harrisburg “become fiscal stewards of Pennsylvania citizens’ hard-earned money.”  

“One way to change the course of direction is to reduce the cost of our annual debt service, and we can only do that by enacting debt reduction measures to bring down [the] general obligation debt itself,” he said. 

Rep. Mike Sturla (D-Lancaster) was the other negative vote on the bill. Representatives DeLuca and Jake Wheatley (D-Hill District) were absent from the vote.  

Around the Capitol this week, Rep. Dan Frankel (D-Squirrel Hill) joined the Women’s Health Caucus to introduce a package of bills aimed at enhancing the health and well-being of women, families, and communities. 

The goal of the caucus is to create legislation that will expand safety measures for women against partner violence and sexual harassment, raising the minimum wage and ensuring paid family and medical leave, and protect access to family planning services, among others.  

“At a time when we’re hearing from women that they’ve had enough of the constant attacks on their reproductive choices, lack of concern for their safety and barriers to success in the workplace, our agenda will hopefully show them that there are legislators in Harrisburg who are listening and making a plan to pass legislation that will enhance their lives and the lives of their families.”