Senate Committee Holds Hearing in First Step Toward Broader Ethics Reform

Senate Committee Holds Hearing in First Step Toward Broader Ethics Reform

A Kentucky lawyer and a government watchdog organization were the lone testifiers at Monday’s Senate State Government Committee hearing on possible ethics reform legislation.

The hearing was called in response to numerous news reports regarding a sting operation halted by Attorney General Kathleen Kane that showed state legislators taking cash gifts in exchange for votes on pending legislation.

Noting the Senate just passed a bill and a rule banning cash gifts from lobbyists or those seeking business before the state, committee chairman Sen. Lloyd Smucker (R-Lancaster) said the hearing is the first step in broader ethics reform.

READ MORE.
Monday, April 28, 2014/Author: The PLS Reporter
Categories: News and Views
Call For Systemic Municipal Reform Permeates Hearing on Act 47 Bill

Call For Systemic Municipal Reform Permeates Hearing on Act 47 Bill

The Senate Local Government Committee held a hearing Thursday on legislation reforming Act 47, which provides assistance to Pennsylvania municipalities who are fiscally distressed.

The focus of the hearing was on Sen. John Eichelberger’s (R-Blair) Senate Bill 1157, the unamended version of Rep. Chris Ross’s (R-Chester) House Bill 1773, the latter of which is poised for final consideration in the House when that chamber returns to voting session after the Easter break. 

According to Michael Gasbarre, Executive Director of the Local Government Commission, the entity whose concepts are articulated in the legislation, the bill the legislation would—among other things—provide a five year time limit for cities to exit distressed status under Act 47, would enhance the early intervention program, allows for new taxes and mandate relief for distressed cities, and provides for municipal disincorporation if (in extreme cases) the municipality cannot exit distressed status.

READ MORE.
Thursday, April 10, 2014/Author: The PLS Reporter
Categories: News and Views

Act 47 Reform Legislation to Get House and Senate Action

Two bills reforming Act 47 will be subject of House and Senate action the second week of April.

Both House Bill 1773 by Rep. Chris Ross (R-Chester) and Senate Bill 1157 by Sen. John Eichelberger (R-Blair) were introduced following a Local Government Commission Task Force report detailing needed changes to the current law.

The bills were identical as introduced, but Rep. Ross’s bill has been amended as it moves through the legislative process.

Rep. Ross’s bill is ready for third consideration in the House as soon as Monday. Sen. Eichelberger’s bill will be the subject of a Senate Local Government Committee hearing on Thursday.

Rep. Ross noted the impetus behind the changes made in the bills is the fact that under Act 47 municipalities are not making the recommended difficult choices needed to get out of distressed status.

“They’re fiscally unstable, they continue to have problems with deterioration, the citizens really find they’re having trouble getting access to good services, and it really hampers economic growth,” Rep. Ross said. “It causes a series of problems.”

According to both Rep. Ross and Sen. Eichelberger, the biggest change both bills make is putting a five-year time limit on how long municipalities may stay under Act 47 distressed status. The status can be extended once for three years if certain criteria are met.

“This is going to force municipalities to make very difficult decisions up front,” Sen. Eichelberger said. “They’re going to have to come up with a plan and then execute it very quickly,” he explained of the effect of the changes.

Read more.

Friday, April 4, 2014/Author: The PLS Reporter
Categories: News and Views
BILL REGULATING HEALTH EXCHANGE NAVIGATORS SUBJECT OF HEARING

BILL REGULATING HEALTH EXCHANGE NAVIGATORS SUBJECT OF HEARING

A bill regulating health care navigators and certified application counselors under the federal Affordable Care Act was vetted during a Wednesday hearing in the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee.

Senate Bill 1268, introduced by Sen. John Eichelberger (R-Blair), would require navigators and certified application counselors to undergo certification by the Insurance Department and submit to criminal background checks and fingerprinting.

“Federal law does not require navigators or certified application counselors to obtain a certified criminal background check even though they have access to enrollees pertinent personal information,” explained committee Chairman Don White (R-Indiana).

“This bill is drafted as a consumer protection measure,” explained Sen. Eichelberger. “When people are working to provide insurance coverage for the citizens of Pennsylvania, I believe the Pennsylvania Insurance Department should have some role in tracking them and having some oversight.”

Not everyone is so convinced such a sweeping measure is needed, however, including the Insurance Department.

Read more.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014/Author: The PLS Reporter
Categories: News and Views
RSS