Voter ID Bill Becomes Law
Governor Tom Corbett signed H.B. 934 (Metcalfe, R- Butler) into law, making Pennsylvania the 16th state in the nation to require voters to present a valid, non-expired photo ID before voting. Acceptable types of identification under the bill include identifications issued by the state or federal government, such as a driver’s license, a military identification card or a passport, photo identification cards from state-accredited colleges and universities, state-licensed care facilities and municipal employers. The new law, now known as Act 18, is scheduled to take effect for the April 24, 2012 primary election.
Redevelopment Assistance Capital Projects (RACP) Bill Passes House
A bill to reduce the state’s debt ceiling for redevelopment assistance capital projects (RACP) has passed the House. H.B. 2175 (Turzai, R-Allegheny) would reduce the RACP debt ceiling by $550 million beginning July 1, 2012 and over a 20-year period bring the cap to $1.5 billion.
Anti-texting Law in Effect
A new law prohibiting text-based communication while driving was put into effect on March 8. Texting while driving is a primary offense carrying a $50 fine. The new law supersedes and preempts any local ordinances restricting the use of interactive wireless devices, including cell phones, by drivers.
Energy Issues Focus
With the signing of Act 11 (DSIC) and Act 13 (Marcellus Shale Impact Fee), the Public Utility Commission (PUC) has been charged with new regulatory oversight and implementation. As a result, particularly of Act 13, some companies unfamiliar with the Public Utility Commission will now interact with it. The following two articles offer additional insight on recent PUC actions and expected next steps –
- PUC Begins Implementation of New Law to Encourage Acceleration of Utility Infrastructure Improvements (DSIC)
- PUC Begins Implementing Marcellus Shale Impact Fee
More information about Buchanan’s Energy team is available at bipc.com/energy.
State-Related Universities Dispute Budget Numbers; Caution Against Enormous Cuts
The proposed budget cuts to state-related universities are much deeper than was originally reported the day of the Governor’s Budget Address, according to University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg. In hearings before the Senate and House Appropriations Committees, Nordenberg said, “in certain respects what we are seeing is a dismantling of a long, long commitment by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to public higher education and particularly to its public research universities.” He noted that while the proposed budget reduces overall state funding one-tenth of one percent, the University of Pittsburgh’s funding reduction is about 29 percent, or a total of $42 million, as opposed to the 2.1 percent decrease reported in the budget document numbers.
Higher Education Panel Meets
Governor Tom Corbett’s advisory commission on post-secondary education held its first meeting on March 12. “The purpose of this commission is to try and chart the landscape and to try to make some recommendations to us,” Corbett said at a news conference following his remarks at the meeting. In those remarks, the governor stressed using technology to deliver education and getting more students interested in technical trades.
Liberty Financing Authority Discussed at Budget Hearing
At a House Appropriations Committee budget hearing, Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary Alan Walker was asked to address plans for the Liberty Financing Authority. The authority, as proposed by the governor, would be “a public-private partnership” that would act as a "one stop shop for job creators," Walker said, noting that the authority would have a 15-member governing board that would include four cabinet members. The authority, which requires enabling legislation, will be funded with $1.1 billion from three existing authorities and four revolving loan funds and allow that funding to be leveraged. The secretary said this can be put up as collateral in the bond market to generate an "off-balance sheet item" for the state to put together a business development fund.
Buchanan’s Scott Baker Nominated to Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency
Governor Tom Corbett has announced the nomination of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney government relations professional K. Scott Baker to the board of the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency. The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency works to provide affordable homeownership and rental apartment options for older adults, low- and moderate-income families, and people with special housing needs. Its 14-member board sets policy and oversees the agency's operations. The governor appoints a total of six private citizen members who must be confirmed by the State Senate.
PA Ranked Among Top States for New, Expanded Corporate Facilities; Pittsburgh Recognized
Site Selection Magazine, a publication specializing in the corporate real estate and economic development field, ranked Pennsylvania third in the nation with 453 new or expanded corporate facilities in 2011 – an increase of over 100 projects from 2010. The ranking is based on new corporate location projects that involved a capital investment of at least $1 million, created at least 50 new jobs or added at least 20,000 square feet of space.
- Attorney General's Race Update
- Special Elections and Reapportionment
Committee Meeting Calendar
For the most up-to-date listing of the standing committee meeting schedule, log on to the PA General Assembly's website here.