York legislators wrap up 2015-16 session
The state General Assembly concluded its 2015-16 regular session last week, meaning thousands of bills sitting in various stages in the House and Senate will likely have to start over in 2017.
Legislators are scheduled to meet in a "lame duck" session following the general election, though, and some York County legislators believe a couple of important bills might be passed during that time.
Rep. Stan Saylor, R-Windsor Township, said he's hopeful a pension-reform bill will get passed during that time.
Republican lawmakers launched a new push Oct. 25 to overhaul benefits in Pennsylvania’s two large public pension systems, those for teachers and state workers, as the state grapples with tens of billions of dollars in pension debt, according to Associated Press reports.
The bill, which would have delivered no short-term savings for the state or school districts, was expected to come up for a concurrent vote in the House and Senate the next day, but no such vote occurred because House Democrats reportedly would have all voted no.
Video: How productive were York County Legislators?
Instead, the bill was sent back into conference committee, potentially for minor tweaking, Saylor said.
Saylor said he believes enough Republicans and Democrats support the bill, which he claims will "stop the bleeding" in terms of adding to the pension debt, but they need more time to check the numbers.
"I'm comfortable with (the bill)," he said, adding the state will still need to find a way to fund the debt. "There's no perfect bill out there."
Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover Township, was less optimistic that the pension-reform bill would pass this year, but he said he's also hopeful and in support of it.
Gambling: The other bill Grove and Saylor mentioned as potentially getting passed after the election is House Bill 1887, which amends gambling legislation in the state.
The bill, which passed the House by a 108-71 vote last Wednesday, Oct. 26, proposes, among other things, to regulate daily fantasy sports.
Saylor said his understanding is that the bill needs to pass in order to protect municipalities with casinos from losing out on needed funds.
The state Supreme Court ruled in September that the current law was unconstitutional, and host municipalities would stop seeing the money they've been paid by casinos starting in February 2017 without a change, the AP has reported.
Grove said he voted against the amendment because he believes any new gambling funds should go toward property tax relief, but Saylor said he's heard the Senate is expected to pass the bill.
Grove and Saylor do not expect any other bills to come up before Nov. 30, when the yearly session officially ends.
Year in review: Grove, reflecting on the conclusion of his fourth term as a state representative, said the budget stalemate, which lasted nearly nine months, dominated the term, but he was glad the state avoided any major tax increases.
Despite the long fight, Grove was able to serve as one of York County's most productive lawmakers in terms of general bills sponsored.
During the 2015-16 session, Grove sponsored 403 general House bills, including 25 in which he was the prime sponsor. Two of those bills, including one that helped local senior citizens retain prescription drug assistance, were signed into law.
Among local legislators, Grove's numbers trailed only Saylor, who sponsored 437 general House bills during the year.
Saylor, serving in his 12th term, served as prime sponsor for 16 general bills; none have become law, but one passed both branches and awaits Gov. Tom Wolf's signature.
“What do high school seniors make of this remarkable presidential election season? We asked York County high school seniors — among our country's freshest voters — why they it's important for them to vote and what they're looking for in a candidate.
Saylor said he's disappointed no legislation was passed to increase charter-school accountability, and he still worries about a hole in the budget, but he's happy that Wolf and the General Assembly are starting to work better together.
Local productivity: Wolf's signature is also needed to pass Rep. Kristin Phillips-Hill's bill to expedite and remove barriers to teacher certifications for military members and their spouses.
The bill, which Saylor praised, is one of 11 general House bills that Phillips-Hill, R-York Township, served as prime sponsor on this year.
Phillips-Hill, concluding her first term, Saylor and Grove are all running unopposed for re-election. Election Day is Tuesday.
Other local legislators and their general bill counts for the year:
- Rep. Keith Gillespie, R-Hellam Township, sponsored 46 general bills, 12 as prime sponsor. He was prime sponsor of a bill to allow counties to increase their hotel occupancy tax to fund local tourism efforts. Serving in his seventh term, he is running unopposed for re-election.
- Rep. Kate Klunk, R-Hanover, sponsored 83 general bills, three as prime sponsor. No bills in which she was the prime sponsor became law. Serving in her first term, she is challenged by unaffiliated candidate, Robert Marcoccio.
- Rep. Mike Regan, R-Dillsburg, sponsored 164 general bills, 15 as prime sponsor. He was prime sponsor of two bills that became law. Serving in his third term, Regan is running for state Senate in the 31st District, where he is opposed by Democrat John Bosha and unaffiliated candidate Kenneth Gehosky.
- Sen. Richard Alloway, R-York, Adams, Cumberland and Franklin counties, sponsored 248 general bills, 26 as prime sponsor. He was prime sponsor of two bills, including one to privatize and regulate the bail bondsmen industry in the state, that became law. Serving in his second term, Alloway is running unopposed for re-election.
- Rep. Kevin Schreiber, D-York City, sponsored 227 general bills, nine as prime sponsor. No bills in which he was the prime sponsor became law. Serving in his third term, Schreiber is not running for re-election.
- Sen. Patricia Vance, R-York and Cumberland counties, sponsored 111 general bills, 13 as prime sponsor. She was prime sponsor for three bills that became law and another which awaits Wolf's signature. Serving in her third term, Vance is not running for re-election.
- Sen. Scott Wagner, R-Spring Garden Township, sponsored 114 general bills, eight as prime sponsor. One bill in which he is prime sponsor is awaiting Wolf's signature. Wagner is serving in his first term, and his seat is not up for election this year.
- Sen. Mike Folmer, R-Lebanon County, sponsored 226 general bills, 22 as prime sponsor. He was prime sponsor for three bills, including one creating a medical marijuana program in the state, that became law and another that awaits Wolf's signature. Folmer is serving in his third term, and his seat is not up for election this year.
Note: All numbers are compiled from the state General Assembly's website.