A Slice of Pie is an ongoing publication keeping our readers informed about important public policy issues. It is the mission of the Policy Information Exchange to educate and inform Pennsylvanians with disabilities, their families and advocates, and the general public, regarding public policy issues and to further the exchange of policy information between the Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council and federal, state, and local policy makers. The Policy Information Exchange is funded in part by the Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council.
On November 4, 2014, Pennsylvania voters elected a Democratic Governor and gave the Republicans stronger majorities in both the State House and the State Senate. The State Senate, which had been comprised of 27 Republicans to 23 Democrats, will now include 30 Republicans to 20 Democrats. State House Republicans won eight more seats in the state House of Representatives, for a 119-84 majority. That’s the largest majority for Republicans in the House in memory, and the largest of any party since Democrats had 126 seats during the 1957-58 session, according to Capitolwire.com.
Pennsylvania’s delegation for the 114th Congress representing us in the House in Washington will continue to include 13 Republicans and 5 Democrats. Overall, the U.S. Senate will switch from a Democratic majority to a Republican majority. There will be 53 Republicans, 44 Democrats, 2 Independents and one undecided race in Louisiana that will have a run-off in December. The U.S House will remain a Republican majority of 244 to 186 Democrats, with 5 races not yet called.
The split in power between Democratic executives and Republican legislatures is likely to make it harder to get things done in both Harrisburg and Washington.
For details about each race, go to one of the resources below.
Republican Governor Tom Corbett ran for re-election for another four -year term and was defeated by Democrat Tom Wolf. Governor-elect Wolf’s victory marks the first time in 44 years since the state allowed governors to serve two consecutive terms that a sitting governor has not been re-elected. Governor-elect Wolf defeated Governor Corbett 54.8 percent to 45.2 percent, in an election that saw a little more than 3.4 million votes cast. In the previous mid-term election in 2010, nearly 4 million votes were cast.
Governor-elect Wolf and Lt. Governor-elect Michael J. Stack, III will be inaugurated on January 20, 2015. Governor-elect Wolf has established a website where people can get news about the transition to the new governor. It’s at www.wolftransitionpa.com/. The site also can be used to submit resumes for jobs in the new administration. Governor-elect Wolf has announced that his Chief of Staff will be Katie McGinty, former Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. His Transition Team will be led by: John A. Fry, President of Drexel University, as Transition Chair; three Vice-Chairs—York Mayor Kim Bracey, Community Leader Cindy Shapira, and Jim Brown, Senator Robert Casey, Jr.’s Chief of Staff. Denise Smyler will serve as legal counsel to the steering committee; Mary Soderberg, former Secretary of the Budget as Chair of the Budget Deficit and Fiscal Stabilization Task Force and Josh Shapiro, Chairman of the Montgomery County Commission, as Vice Chair.
Pennsylvania General Assembly
In the Pennsylvania General Assembly, the Republican majority increased in both the House and Senate. This increased margin is still shy of the two-thirds needed to override a veto. The members of the General Assembly will be sworn-in on January 6, 2015 and hold session to elect the House Speaker and Senate President Pro Tempore. Representative Brendan Boyle, D-Philadelphia, won his race for the U.S. House of Representatives, so a special election will be held in the 170th District to replace him.
On November 12, the four caucuses—House Republicans and Democrats and Senate Republicans and Democrats—elected their leadership for the new 2015-16 legislative session. They are:
Speaker of the House Designee: Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny)
Leader: Dave Reed (R-Allegheny)
Whip: Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster)
Appropriations Chairman: William Adolph (R-Delaware)
Caucus Chairman: Sandra Major (R-Susquehanna)
Secretary: Donna Oberlander (R-Clarion)
Policy Committee Chairman: Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre)
Administrator: Brian Ellis (R-Butler)
Leader: Frank Dermody (D-Allegheny)
Whip: Mike Hanna (D-Clinton)
Appropriations Chairman: Joe Markosek (D-Allegheny)
Caucus Chairman: Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny)
Secretary: Rosita Youngblood (D-Philadelphia)
Policy Committee Chairman: Mike Sturla (D-Lancaster)
Administrator: Neal Goodman (D-Schuylkill)
President Pro Tempore Designee: Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson)
Leader: Jake Corman (R-Centre)
Whip: John Gordner (R-Columbia)
Appropriations Chairman: Pat Browne (R-Lehigh)
Caucus Chairman: Bob Mench (R-Montgomery)
Secretary: Rich Alloway (R-Franklin)
Policy Committee Chairman: Dave Argall (R-Susquehanna)
Administrator: Chuck McIlhinney (R-Bucks)
Leader: Jay Costa (D-Allegheny)
Whip: Anthony Williams (D-Philadelphia)
Appropriations Chairman: Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia)
Caucus Chairman: Wayne Fontana (D-Allegheny)
Secretary: Larry Farnese (D-Philadelphia)
Policy Committee Chairman: Lisa Boscola (D-Northampton)
Administrator: John Yudichak (D-Luzerne)
In one of the more closely watched challenges, Senator Jake Corman (R) unseated Senator Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware) as Majority Leader of the Senate. Senator Pileggi had held that position for eight years. This change has been interpreted by many in the media as a conservative move. The Speaker of the House and the President Pro Tem of the Senate are officially elected by all the members of each chamber when the new session begins in January. Committee assignments have not yet been announced as we go to press.
Bills of Interest
Below we summarize some bills of interest to the disability community from the end of the 2013-2014 session. For more information about these or any other state bills, go to: www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/session.cfm. At the top of the page is a box labeled, “Legislation Quick Search,” enter the bill number and click on “Search”. The site contains lots of useful information. So take a few minutes and check it out.
PIE has been reporting on bills of interest throughout the session in this Slice of PIE newsletter. We will be preparing a summary of the action on these bills for the members of the new General Assembly. Limited copies are available on request.
The 2013-14 session of the Pennsylvania General Assembly ended (the official term is “sine die”) on November 30, 2014. Any bill which hasn’t passed by then is dead, and can only be revived by being reintroduced in the new 2015-16 session which begins in January 2015.
HB 993. Introduced by Representative Thomas R. Murt (R-Montgomery). This is the bill which changes the name of the Department of Public Welfare to the Department of Human Services. It was signed by the Governor on September 24, 2014 becoming Act 132 of 2014. See also SB 840 introduced by Senator Bob Mensch (R-Bucks). The Act takes effect 60 days from September 24, but, to minimize costs, the old name can continue to be used on stationary, signs, etc. until they need to be replaced.
HB 1702. Introduced by Representative Chris Ross (R-Chester). The bill empowers the Department of Aging to license and inspect community adult respite service providers. It passed both chambers and was signed by the Governor on October 22, 2014 becoming Act 166 of 2014.
HB 2111. Introduced by Representative Jim Marshall (R-Beaver). The bill requires a doctor, who receives positive test results on a test for Down syndrome, to provide the expectant or new parent with educational information prepared by the Department of Health (DOH). The DOH educational information is to include up-to-date, evidence-based information about Down syndrome and contact information for resources to assist in treatment options, education and support services. The information on the website must conform to the National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health and Health Care as adopted by the federal Department of Health and Human Services. The bill, also known as Chloe’s Law, passed both chambers and was signed by Governor on July 9 becoming Act 130 of 2014. See also SB 1339 introduced by Senator Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny) which was referred to the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee, April 17, 2014.
HB 2451. Introduced by Representative Thomas P. Murt (R-Montgomery). This bill would raise the cigarette tax by four cents to provide for an Adult Intellectual Disabilities and Autism Waiting List Restricted Account. It was introduced and referred to the House Finance Committee on August 28, 2014.
HB 2511 through 2514. Introduced by Representative Margo L. Davidson (D-Delaware). These four bills relate to mental health treatment.
- HB 2511 amends the Insurance Law to provide coverage for assisted outpatient treatment. On September 22, 2014, it was introduced and referred to the House Insurance Committee.
- HB 2512 would amend the Mental Health Procedures Act to require facilities to notify the individual’s next of kin, including their spouse, parents, or children, when their relative has been admitted to a mental health facility. On September 22, 2014, it was introduced and referred to the House Human Services Committee.
- HB 2513 provides for assisted outpatient treatment On September 22, 2014, it was introduced and referred to the House Human Services Committee.
- HB 2514 would expand the Amber Alert System to cover some people with disabilities. On September 22, 2014, it was introduced and referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
SB 428. Introduced by Senator Jay Costa (D-Allegheny). This bill provides for pooled trusts for people with disabilities. It passed both chambers and was signed by the Governor on October 27, 2014 becoming Act 186 of 2014.
SB 1470. Introduced by Senator Stewart J. Greenleaf (R-Montgomery). This bill rewrites the Mental Health Procedures Act. It was introduced and referred to the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee on September 15, 2014.
SB 1497. Introduced by Senator Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne). The bill provides for the establishment of the Work Experience for High School Graduates with Disabilities Act. It would require the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation to ensure that local education agencies and private employers work together in order to successfully transition high school students with disabilities into competitive employment after graduation. It was introduced and referred to the Senate Labor and Industry Committee on October 14, 2014. See also HB 2405 introduced by Representative Tom Murt (R-Montgomery) which was referred to the House Labor and Industry Committee, July 1, 2014.
HR 241. Introduced by Representative Jim Cox (R-Berks). The resolution directs the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to review Pennsylvania’s Medicaid Home and Community Based Waiver Programs to look at barriers to family caregiving. It was adopted on September 16, 2014.
HR 1064. Introduced by Representative Richard R. Stevenson (R-Butler). This resolution directs the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to review programs providing intervention for young athletes who sustain a brain injury, as required under the Safety in Youth Sports Act. It was adopted on October 15, 2014.
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THE ARC OF PENNSYLVANIA PIE STAFF:
Joan W. Martin