Working with the White House on Infrastructure
On Thursday, February 22, I took part in a conference call to discuss the president’s infrastructure plan with policy leaders at the White House and several of my colleagues in state legislatures across the country. I was pleased to learn that the administration of President Donald Trump will not be pursuing an increase in the federal gas tax. Instead, they plan to work with Congress to cut spending and avoid further bankrupting the Highway Trust Fund. It was also encouraging to hear that there will be no federal projects mandated by the White House, but rather, states will need to innovate and compete for block grants. I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure Pennsylvania is a leader in fiscally responsible infrastructure development.
During this year’s hearings on the 2018-19 state budget proposal, House Republicans are focusing on better accountability of tax dollars, private sector job growth, and the opioid epidemic. This week’s slate of hearings included appearances by the Independent Fiscal Office, Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education and the departments of Revenue, Transportation, and Conservation and Natural Resources.
Next week’s hearings will feature the departments of Environmental Protection, Agriculture, Corrections, General Services, Health, Drug and Alcohol Programs, and Military and Veterans Affairs along with the Liquor Control Board and the Office of Attorney General.
The full schedule is available here which will also include video of the archived hearings once available. More information about the governor’s proposal is available here.
HB1811 Automated License Plate Reader Data Collection Restrictions
In January, the House passed legislation, introduced by me and Representative Matzie, that provides needed restrictions on the use of data collected from automated license plate readers (ALPR).
This bill protects your right to have your information kept private as a law-abiding citizen. The provisions in our bill will include who can use ALPRs, how the data can be collected, and how long the data can be stored among other things. Our bill will disallow for the use of ALPRs for passive surveillance, and not allow the information gathered from ALPRs subject to the Right to Know Law. This legislation is similar to HB 2196 that was introduced in 2016 and was reported from the House Transportation Committee late last September.
This bill is currently in the Senate Transportation Committee.
HB1958 Automated Work Zone Vehicle Authorization
While serving on the Transportation Committee, I have met with many industry leaders working on autonomous vehicle technology and I believe that the government must embrace these innovations for the good of our economy.
That is why I introduced legislation that will authorize the use of automated work zone vehicles by PennDOT and the PA Turnpike Commission; and allow for the platooning of motor carrier vehicles. These automated work zone vehicles will protect workers from injury or death caused by other motorists, and platooning allows vehicle-to-vehicle communication that also improves worker safety and reduces fuel use. This bill will improve worker efficiency and safety, and reduces costs for transport companies.
HB1959 Pennsylvania Permit Act
After working through the House State Government Committee’s Regulatory Overreach Report with my colleagues, I introduced important legislation that will rein in the government and unleash free market prosperity in Pennsylvania.
House Bill 1959, the Pennsylvania Permit Act, currently awaiting a vote in committee, would require state agencies to create and develop a navigable online permit tracking system. This system will improve government transparency and boost our economy by allowing applicants to track the progress of their permits and providing explanations should they be denied.
Protecting the Public from Dangerous Sex Offenders
House Bill 631 would require the court to impose a mandatory three-year probation period consecutive to any term of total confinement for a person convicted of a Tier III sex offense under Pennsylvania’s Adam Walsh Act, commonly known as Megan’s Law. Additionally, this bill would ensure sexual offenders remain registered under Megan’s Law.
Increasing Government Transparency
Bipartisan legislation designed to increase government transparency and more appropriately address unlawful lobbying practices is headed to Governor Tom Wolf for his signature after receiving a concurrence vote in the House.
House Bill 1175 would increase fines and penalties for violations of the Lobbying Disclosure Act by raising the maximum penalty imposed by the Ethics Commission from the current fine of $2,000 to $4,000. The bill also would increase the maximum administrative penalty that may be imposed for negligent failure to report under current law from $50 per day, to $50 per day for the first 10 days, $100 for each late day after the first 10 late days, and $200 for each late day after the initial 20-day period.
The bill would also improve the current electronic filing system for lobbyists. This would help ensure that the penalties for violating the public’s trust would be better aligned with the crime, and is an effort to restore the public’s faith in the government.
Opening up More Access to Treatment
To help those battling addiction better access life-saving treatment, the House passed legislation last week that would help health care professionals track down available beds at treatment centers.
House Bill 825, which now goes to the Senate, would create a detoxification bed registry to facilitate treatment for drug addiction. The proposal would require the Department of Human Services to develop and administer an internet-based detoxification bed registry to collect, aggregate and display information about available beds in public and private inpatient psychiatric facilities and licensed detoxification and rehabilitation facilities.
The registry would contain information for facilities and licensed providers; the number of beds available at a facility; and a search function to identify available beds that are appropriated for the treatment of a substance abuse emergency. This legislation is in addition to several other bills having passed the House in the last few years to help fight the opioid epidemic in Pennsylvania.
Penalties for Caller Identification Crimes
To help consumers fight back against fraud, the House will take up legislation soon to increase penalties for those found guilty of caller identification spoofing.
Spoofing occurs when individuals use technology to make it appear that a call is coming from a number or business other than that of the actual caller. Spoofing can be used to defraud, harass or induce call recipients into divulging sensitive or confidential information, especially senior citizens.
House Bill 979, which was recently passed out of the House Judiciary Committee, would make it a misdemeanor for any person to cause false caller identification information to be displayed on a recipient’s telephone, with the intent to harass or defraud the call recipient.