Your legislative preview for the upcoming fall session comes from Laura Saccente, APSCUF’s director of governmental affairs. Take it away Laura!

What’s on the agenda for the fall legislative session in Harrisburg? It’s anybody’s guess which bills will make it through the state House and Senate and onto the governor’s desk for his signature. Here’s what one top Senate Republican staffer had to say about the legislature’s agenda for the fall: “The legislative agenda is always like a river, moving at different rates, and sometimes you hit a period of rapids where things move quickly,” said Senate Republican spokesman Erik Arneson. “Other times you’re just (at) a slow, meandering pace. There’s certainly not a shortage of significant issues to get done this year.”

Here are some of the significant issues that will likely be up for debate when the House and Senate return to session in September:

  • Legislative redistricting
  • Marcellus shale tax or impact fee
  • School vouchers and education reform
  • Transportation funding
  • Privatization of the Liquor Control Board and/or other state-owned entities

In April, Board of Governor members Rep. Matt Baker introduced and Rep. Mike Hanna co-sponsored House Bill 1343, titled the Commonwealth Higher Education Modernization Act of 2011. According to a summary by Pennsylvania Legislative Services, the bill provides guidelines to allow State-owned universities and PASSHE employees to enter into agreements for economic development transactions that inure to the benefit of the State-owned university and PASSHE employees and provides for applied doctorates at state-owned universities.

APSCUF reviewed the language with legal counsel prior to its formal introduction, making sure it did not impair or limit the terms of the collective bargaining agreement.

In the early fall, the Senate Democratic chairman of the Education Committee and West Chester faculty member Andy Dinniman, along with other senators, will be introducing a package of similar bills called the PASSHE Mandate Relief package. Sen. Dinniman will be previewing this legislative package at the September Legislative Assembly, so stay tuned for more details.

The Legislative Committee will be meeting September 10 and will review the PASSHE Higher Ed Modernization bill and the PASSHE Mandate Relief package, as well as any other higher-education legislation that seems poised for movement.

APSCUF will be continuing to meet with legislators and staff both in Harrisburg and in local districts. We will notify you if we are planning a local meeting in your district. We encourage all members to participate and discuss concerns with elected officials.

Want to stay on top of everything that’s happening in Harrisburg? Make sure you’re following APSCUF on Twitter for real-time state Capitol updates and check out the APSCUF In the News page for daily news clips.

– Laura