Bills aimed at more transparent collective bargaining make their way to the House Floor

Bills aimed at more transparent collective bargaining make their way to the House Floor

Two Senate bills that sponsors say would bring more transparency to collective bargaining negotiations made their way out of the House State Government Committee Tuesday morning and now head to the House Floor for consideration.

Senate Bill 644 by Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon) would require the Independent Fiscal Office to conduct a fiscal impact study of any collective bargaining agreement before it is officially enacted.

“Senate Bill 644 represents an ongoing effort to bring openness and transparency to state government,” Sen. Folmer said of his bill. “[It] does this by focusing on the cost, not on the details associated with the Commonwealth’s collective bargaining agreements.”

Tuesday, June 23, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
Impasse or progress? Budget negotiators spin status of talks

Impasse or progress? Budget negotiators spin status of talks

Budget principals left Tuesday’s closed-door discussion calling the relatively short meeting a planning session to set the stage for the coming week’s negotiations.

However, the progress of the overall negotiations was cast in different shades by different negotiators.

Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) continued to say there remains a wide gulf on issues that should be on the table for discussion.

“If the governor is not willing to move, we are prepared to move on pension reform and liquor privatization,” he said. “The Senate leadership and the House leadership—the Republicans—are moving forward together on making sure we have a responsible budget done on time if the governor is not willing to move on important issues.”

He said that budget will be done by the June 30 deadline.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
Legislators play blame game over budget negotiation impasse

Legislators play blame game over budget negotiation impasse

As the end of Pennsylvania’s fiscal year grows closer, leaders from all four caucuses began pointing fingers in earnest Monday, blaming one another for why negotiations on the budget and related pieces of legislation like pension reform and liquor privatization have stalled.

Democratic leaders from both the House and Senate emerged from a Monday morning budget-related meeting with Gov. Tom Wolf expressing frustration at an impasse in overall negotiations they say is caused by Speaker Mike Turzai’s (R-Allegheny) unwillingness to move forward without a deal on liquor privatization.

“The hold up in my view, and I think the consensus is, that wine and spirits privatization is the thing that’s bringing everything to a halt,” said Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny).

“It’s a matter of priorities,” said House Minority Leader Frank Dermody (D-Allegheny). “We have the Speaker of the House here worried about booze and how we buy booze instead of worrying about our kids and how we’ll educate them.”

Monday, June 22, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
Sen. Wagner: “Tom Wolf is trying to play the CEO of the Pennsylvania Corporation”

Sen. Wagner: “Tom Wolf is trying to play the CEO of the Pennsylvania Corporation”

Sen. Scott Wagner (R-York) sounded off on a number of issues at Monday’s Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon including his views on public pension reform, liquor privatization, education funding, and special interests.

Sen. Wagner also had some very pointed remarks about Gov. Tom Wolf, a fellow York County businessman whom he has known for a number of years.

Asked if Gov. Wolf is governing as he would expect, Sen. Wagner said he is not.

“Tom Wolf is a nice guy. Tom Wolf I believe is trying to play CEO of the Pennsylvania Corporation,” he said. “It’s almost like: ‘If you need me come get me.’”

Monday, June 22, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views

Supreme Court bars attempt to resurrect adultBasic; calls into question Fiscal Code amendment process

A unanimous Pennsylvania Supreme Court Friday reversed an opinion of the Commonwealth Court and held those attempting to resurrect Pennsylvania’s now-defunct adultBasic health insurance program lack legal standing to challenge the defunding of the program.

The opinions came in the separate, but later consolidated, cases of Sears v. Wolf, Sear v. Smith, and Weisblatt v. Wolf.

In the Court’s opinion, Chief Justice Tom Saylor said that the language in the operative statute which established the adultBasic program made the insurance program an non-entitlement program, meaning those receiving funds from the program had no claim over those funds.

Friday, June 19, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
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