What can Pa. Legislature do in 12 days? We'll soon see

David Weissman
  • The Pa. House is set to reconvene for 12 days beginning Sept. 19 and the Senate for nine days beginning Sept. 26.
  • The opioid epidemic, pension reform and abortion bills among topics that could come up before the election.

Pension reform and the opioid crisis are among issues York County lawmakers would like to address, but most fear that a short legislative session ahead of the general election will limit what they accomplish.

The state House of Representatives is set to reconvene  Sept. 19, with 12 days in session before the Nov. 8 election. The state Senate is set to reconvene Sept. 26, with nine days in session, according to the General Assembly's website.

Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover Township, said he doesn't foresee any big issues being addressed in only 12 days.

Rep. Seth Grove discusses Gov. Tom Wolf's answer to application for special relief during an interview at his office in West Manchester Township, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016.

Grove recently sat in on a GOP House-led discussion on the opioid epidemic, and he said legislators will likely discuss how to  best handle that situation, but he'd like to also address what he sees as a "huge hole" that still exists in the state budget.

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Sen. Scott Wagner, R-Spring Garden Township, said he has no idea what bills will come up for vote during the session.

State Sen. Scott Wagner

"There's about 3,000 bills hanging out there," he said. "And I don't control the calendar. ... Until I see an agenda, I don't know."

Pension reform: Wagner said he doesn't think nine days will be enough time to push through any pension or tax-reform bills.

Reps. Kevin Schreiber, D-York City, and Kristin Phillips-Hill, R-York Township, are a little more optimistic when it comes to pension reform.

Schreiber said he's hopeful the Senate will look at some of the pension-reform bills that have already passed the House, and Phillips-Hill said she's been hearing from GOP leadership and Gov. Tom Wolf's office that pension reform will be a priority in the coming session.

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Phillips-Hill is not sure which bill the Senate will look to pass, but she said she hopes they pass House Bill 1084, which she sponsored; the bill would prevent future employees of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association from enrolling in the Public School Employees Retirement System.

State Rep. Kristin Phillips-Hill, R-York Township

"I want us to avoid (passing legislation) that's just kicking the can down the road," she said. "We want something to plug the holes."

Phillips-Hill said she hopes legislators are able to take full advantage of every day in session.

"I'm ready to work long to get stuff done," she said.

Schreiber also said he hopes the House can be productive in what will be his final session serving as the 95th District's representative.

Schreiber announced recently that he would drop his re-election campaign to accept a position as president and CEO of the York County Economic Alliance. York City Council President Carol Hill-Evans has since been selected to take his place as the Democratic nominee against GOP candidate Joel Sears.

"It's bittersweet," Schreiber said of the coming session, "but I'm equally excited for the challenges ahead."

State Rep. Kevin Schreiber, D- York City, talks with members of the media in the lobby of the DoubleTree hotel during the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia Wednesday, July 27, 2016. John Pavoncello photo

Abortion bill: One bill Schreiber said he hopes doesn't come up for vote is House Bill 1948, which would ban abortions after 20 weeks, or five months, of gestational growth. The current limit is 24 weeks, or six months.

Pa. House sends abortion bill to Senate

The bill has passed the House and sits in the Senate awaiting a final vote, though Wolf has promised he would veto it if it reached his desk.

Wagner said he hasn't heard anything about it coming up for vote, referring The York Dispatch to Senate leadership, who control the calendar.

An email sent to the press secretary of Sen. Jake Corman, current majority floor leader, has not been answered.

Schreiber, who voted against the bill in the House, said he hopes Senate and House leadership stick to "more pressing issues" that the governor would actually sign.

— Reach David Weissman at dweissman@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @DispatchDavid.