Senate Committee Reviews Concerns Regarding Governor and Lieutenant Governor Disability Procedures

HARRISBURG – The Senate State Government Committee held a public hearing Monday to review the legal requirements for incapacitated governors or lieutenant governors, according to committee chairman Senator David G. Argall (R-29).

These procedures came into the spotlight in May when Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman underwent a pacemaker operation following a stroke. President Pro Tempore Jake Corman served as acting lieutenant governor from May 17th to May 23rd. Since his stroke, Lieutenant Governor Fetterman has not presided over the Senate.

Confusion remains about when Fetterman’s office first notified Governor Wolf when he first required medical care, Argall said.

“There have been three instances where this law became necessary, most notably when Governor Bob Casey underwent a rare heart-liver transplant and Lieutenant Governor Mark Singel served as acting governor for six months in 1993,” said Senator Argall.

“We learned from our initial review that the law has been applied differently in all three cases and is unclear about whether the Governor or Lieutenant Governor needs to wait four days between notification and resuming their duties,” Senator Argall continued. “The information we gathered today is invaluable.”

Testimony from Dr. Brian J. Gaines and Dr. Brian D. Roberts noted antiquated sections in the 1974 law, which includes a reference to the telegram.

The committee issued invitations to former Lieutenant Governor Mark Singel and current Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman to hear their perspectives and personal experiences with this law. Lieutenant Governor Singel submitted a written statement, while Lieutenant Governor Fetterman declined to participate.

 

Contact: Jim Brugger

717.787.2637

Public Hearing on Act 347 of 1974 – Governor and Lieutenant Governor Disability Procedure Law

Senate State Government Committee

Monday, July 18, 2022 | 11:00 a.m.

Hearing Room 1, North Office Building


Agenda

11:00 a.m.:         Welcome and Opening Remarks

  • Senator Argall and Senator Street

11:05 a.m.:          National Conference of State Legislatures

  • Natalie Wood, Director, NCSL’s Center for Legislative Strengthening

11:20 a.m.:         Gubernatorial Incapacity and Succession Provisions

  • Brian J. Gaines, Ph. D., University of Illinois
    • Department of Political Science
    • Institute of Government and Public Affairs
  • Brian D. Roberts, Ph. D., Principia College – Testimony
    • Chair, Political Science Department

11:45 a.m.:         Closing Remarks and Adjournment

  • Senator Street and Senator Argall

Former acting Governor Mark Singel provided the following written statement.

Meeting to consider SB 488, SB 492, SB 1130, HB 2115, HB 2219, HB 2485, HB 2524

Senate State Government Committee

Tuesday, June 28, 2022 | 10:00 a.m.

East Wing, Hearing Room 8EA


Agenda

Meeting to consider SB 488, SB 492, SB 1130, HB 2115, HB 2219, HB 2485, HB 2524

Schedule

  • Senate Bill 488 (Mastriano) – Amends the Right-to-Know Law for state-related universities to further provide for reporting, for contents of report and for copies and posting and providing for contracts.
    • Amendment A04963 (Argall) – Increases the amount of contracts required to be filed from $5,000 to $10,000 to coincide with HB 2485. 
  • Senate Bill 492 (Mastriano) – Amends the Right-to-Know Law further providing for definitions; in requirements and prohibitions, providing for Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association; in access, further providing for open-records officer, for regulations and policies, for uniform form, for requests and for retention of records and providing for inmate access.
    • Amendment ### – Deletes the section on commercial purpose and the section on inmate limitations, while making several other editorial changes.  Changes the effective date of the act to 60 days from 30 days.
  • Senate Bill 1130 (Dush) – Amends the Sunshine Act to facilitate the creation of local rules for broadcasting meetings online and allow public comment via authorized telecommunications devices.
    • Amendment A04720 (Dush) – Provides a definition for broadcast.   Further clarifying methods of broadcast and methods of remote public comment.
  • House Bill 2115 (Wheeland) – Amends the Administrative Code of 1929 to remove provisions referencing entities that were terminated under the Sunset Act.
  • House Bill 2219 (Rowe) – Amends the Administrative Code of 1929 to require each authority that initially authorized a regulatory suspension, under COVID-19 regulatory flexibility authority, that was previously extended, to issue an updated report to be published on the authority’s website.   For each suspension, the report must include whether the authority recommends that the suspension be extended further or enacted permanently into statute or regulation.
    • Amendment A05169 (Argall) – Changes the March 1, 2022 reporting date to August 1, 2022 and changes the March 31, 2022 recommendation date for further suspensions to August 31, 2022.
  • House Bill 2485 (Grove) – Amends the Right-to-Know Law, in State contract information, further providing for submission and retention of contracts.
  • House Bill 2524 (Schmitt) – Amends the Right-to-Know Law, in preliminary provisions, further providing for definitions; in access, further providing for open-records officer, for regulations and policies, for uniform form, for requests and for retention of records and providing for inmate access; in procedure, further providing for written requests, for redaction, for production of certain records and for exceptions for public records.
    • Amendment #### – Technical change to the definition of “commercial purpose”; removes “economic development authority” from the definition of “local agency”.   Changes the effective date of the act to 60 days from 30 days.

Increasing Transparency in State Government

HARRISBURG – Potential revisions to the Right to Know Law, which allows for Pennsylvania residents and organizations to request information about the operations of state and local agencies, the General Assembly, the judiciary, and state-related universities, were the subject of a hearing of the Senate State Government Committee today, according to Senator David G. Argall (R-29), the chair of the committee.

“Every Pennsylvanian has the right to know what actions their state government is taking,” said Senator Argall.  “Today’s hearing was incredibly valuable as the committee continues to review ways to further improve the transparency of all governmental bodies in Pennsylvania.”

The committee heard testimony from a variety of stakeholders including the Office of Open Records, local school boards, local government officials, and the media.  The Right to Know Law has not been significantly updated since its original enactment in 2008.  Many testifiers discussed gaps in the original law that have caused issues for their organizations.

Testifiers also discussed the dramatic increase in right to know requests since the COVID-19 pandemic began and noted that the crisis highlighted areas that could be improved in the current Right to Know Law.

The committee is expected to consider the three bills reviewed in today’s hearing, Senate Bill 488, Senate Bill 492, and House Bill 2524, in the near future.

 

Contact: Jim Brugger

717.787.2637

***Media Advisory*** Senate State Government Committee Hearing to Review Efforts to Hold Russia Accountable, Support Veteran and Minority Owned Businesses

WHAT:

The Senate State Government Committee will hold a hearing reviewing two bills that aim to hold the Russian government accountable for their heinous war crimes (SB 1203 and HB 2447) and a bill that aims to support veteran and minority owned businesses in Pennsylvania (SB 1140).

WHO:

Senator David G. Argall (R-29), Chairman of the Senate State Government Committee and Prime Sponsor of Senate Bill 1203

Senator Camera Bartolotta (R-46), Prime Sponsor of Senate Bill 1140

The Honorable Stacy Garrity, Treasurer, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

The Honorable Jim Gerlach, President and CEO, Greater Reading Chamber Alliance

Secretary Curt Topper, Department of General Services

WHEN:

Tuesday, June 14, 2022, 10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

WHERE:

Hearing Room No. 1

North Office Building

Harrisburg, PA 17120

Media RSVP and Questions:

Please contact Jim Brugger at 717.787.2637 or jbrugger@pasen.gov.

Meeting to consider SB 117, SB 760, SB 822, SB 1029, SB 1130

Senate State Government Committee

Wednesday, June 8, 2022 | 10:30 a.m.

East Wing, Room 8 E-A


Agenda

Meeting to consider SB 117, SB 760, SB 822, SB 1029, SB 1130

Schedule

  • Senate Bill 117 (Hutchinson) – Amends Title 11 (Cities) to reduce to ten, the required amount of candidate signatures for ballot access in third class cities, and eliminates filing fees.
  • Senate Bill 760 (Martin) – Amends The Administrative Code of 1929 to eliminate the ability of a gubernatorial cabinet nominee to serve as an acting secretary while awaiting Senate confirmation.
  • Senate Bill 822 (Phillips-Hill) – Creates the Museum Unclaimed Loaned Property Act to codify procedures for the disposition of unclaimed loaned property.
  • Senate Bill 1029 (Yaw) – Creates the In-Person Meeting Act, to require Commonwealth agencies to hold in-person meetings, except in times of a declared state emergency.
    • Amendment A04215 – Adds a definition of “Public meeting”.
  • Senate Bill 1130 (Dush) – Amends the Sunshine Act to facilitate the creation of local rules for broadcasting meetings online and allow public comment via authorized telecommunications devices.

Meeting to consider SB 784, 1127, 1175, 1182, 1209 and HB 2496

Senate State Government Committee

Wednesday, May 25th | 10 a.m.

East Wing, Hearing Room 8E-B


Agenda

Meeting to consider SB 784, 1127, 1175, 1182, 1209 and HB 2496

Schedule

  • Senate Bill 784 (Argall) – Allows for pre-canvassing of mail ballots to begin one week before election day.   Also, moves back the deadline to apply for either an absentee or mail-in ballot from one week to fifteen days prior to an election.
  • Senate Bill 1127 (Yaw) – A constitutional amendment providing for the election of President Judge in counties with three or more judges.
  • Senate Bill 1175 (Kearney) – Amends the Administrative Code of 1929 to add the Director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission as members of the State Planning Board.
  • Senate Bill 1182 (Argall) – A constitutional amendment requiring the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to randomly select the chairperson of the Legislative Reapportionment Commission from the list of senior judges on appellate courts.
  • Senate Bill 1209 (Argall) – A constitutional amendment prohibiting the Legislative Reapportionment Commission from adjusting the population data for the Commonwealth for any group quarters population.
  • House Bill 2496 (Boback) – Land Conveyance.
    • PDA Tunkhannock Facility in Tunkhannock Township, Wyoming County.
    • SCI Pittsburgh Superintendent’s House in Pittsburgh, Allegheny County.

Public Hearing on Senate Bill 690 and Issues Regarding the Special Election in the 116th Legislative District

Senate State Government Committee

Thursday, April 21 | 12 p.m.

Council Chamber of Hazleton City Hall


Agenda

Public Hearing on Senate Bill 690 and Issues Regarding the Special Election in the 116th Legislative District

Schedule

Part I, Issues related to the recent special election in the 116th Legislative District

12:00 p.m.:         Welcome and Opening Remarks

  • Senator Argall and Senator Street

12:10 p.m.:         Jonathan Marks, Deputy Secretary for Election and Commissions

12:30 p.m.:         Michael Susek, Director of Elections, Luzerne County

Part II, Senate Bill 690 (Laughlin, Collett)

1:00 p.m.      

Senator Dan Laughlin

1:10 p.m.

Senator Maria Collett

1:20 p.m.           

David Thornburgh – Testimony
Senior Advisor, Committee of Seventy

  • Pre-recorded message from Robert “Rocky” Bleier
    • Decorated Vietnam Veteran
    • Four-time Super Bowl Champion
    • Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Honor

1:45 p.m.         

Party Officials

Alan Novak
Former Chairman, Republican State Committee of Pennsylvania (1996-2004)

J. Rooney
Former Chair of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party (2003-2010)

2:10 p.m.:          

Jennifer Bullock, Coordinator – Testimony
Independent Pennsylvanians

2:30 p.m.:           Closing Remarks and Adjournment

  • Senator Street and Senator Argall

*The County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania could not participate but submitted a written statement.

State Government Committee Advances Bills Banning the Private Funding of Elections, Eliminating Drop Boxes

HARRISBURG – Two bills banning the private funding of elections and one requiring mail or absentee ballots be delivered to a county’s primary office were passed by the Senate State Government Committee after three recent public hearings reviewing the proposals, according to Senator David G. Argall (R-29), the chairman of the committee.

“Today, the State Government Committee took action to ensure future elections in Pennsylvania are not tainted by outside groups selectively funding election operations or by questions of drop box security,” said Senator Argall.  “My hope is that the votes taken today will increase the faith of all Pennsylvanians in how our elections are conducted.”

The committee approved two bills to ban the private funding of elections that were focused on during two public hearings in the past week: Senate Bill 982, sponsored by Senator Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) and Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York), and House Bill 2044, sponsored by Rep Eric Nelson (R-Westmoreland).  The committee heard testimony that large urban and suburban Democratic counties received much more “dark money” per registered voter than rural Republican counties.

The committee also voted to approve Senate Bill 1200, sponsored by Senator Cris Dush (R-Jefferson), which would require that persons delivering mail-in ballots may only deliver such ballots at their county’s primary office.  The committee previously heard testimony about activists visiting multiple drop boxes of the same day, contrary to state law.  Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin recently said that there were hundreds of cases where people deposited more than one ballot into drop boxes in 2021.

All three bills now advance to the Senate for its consideration.

 

Contact: Jim Brugger
717.787.2637

Voting meeting on SB 982, SB 1200 and HB 2044

Senate State Government Committee

Monday, April 11, 2022 | Off the Floor

Rules Room

Agenda

Voting meeting on SB 982, SB 1200 and HB 2044

Schedule

Senate Bill 982 (Baker) Requires elections to be funded only through lawful appropriations by Federal, State or local governments, and imposing a penalty. 

Senate Bill 1200 (Dush) Requires that persons delivering mail or absentee ballots may only deliver such ballots at their county’s primary office, located in the county seat. 

House Bill 2044 (Nelson) Prohibits the Secretary of the Commonwealth and county election officials from accepting private donations or contributions for the operation of elections.