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Senator Mario Scavello

Dear Friend,

Below is a recap of this week’s legislative activity in the Senate. It covers votes by the full Senate and committee hearings, plus a look ahead to next week.

Also, our Northampton County district office opened this week! It’s located at 2 North Robinson Avenue in Pen Argyl (full information is on the right of this page) and marks the first time a state senator has opened an office in the Slate Belt region. In the near future, we’ll also be announcing satellite office hours to meet the needs of constituents in the southern portion of my district.

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In this Edition:

Committee Approves Scavello Resolution Creating a Select Committee on Purely Public Charities
Senate Approves Increased Accountability for State Contracts
Senate Approves Bill Regulating Healthcare Exchange Navigators
Other bills approved by the Senate
Committee Holds Public Hearing on Medical Cannabis
Committee Hearing Focuses on Veterans’ Issues
Next Week

Committee Approves Scavello Resolution Creating a Select Committee on Purely Public Charities

A measure I sponsored to establish a select committee on “Purely Public Charities” was approved Wednesday by the Senate Finance Committee.

Under Senate Resolution 28, the bipartisan Select Committee on Institutions of Purely Public Charity will conduct statewide hearings and work with non-profits, elected officials, tax experts, public safety organizations and other stakeholders to determine whether additional legislation is needed and make recommendations relating to legislation on the treatment of purely public charities in Pennsylvania.

The treatment of these charities has been in flux in recent years. With Act 55 of 1997, the General Assembly used its constitutional power to provide clear and uniform standards in statute to define which purely public charitable institutions may claim a tax exemption. A 2012 state Supreme Court decision struck down the provisions and reinstated standards established by the courts as the means to determine the definition of a charity. The decision has created uncertainty and the potential for increased litigation.

The Senate recently approved a proposed constitutional amendment to restore the General Assembly’s power to determine whether an institution is a purely public charity.

The select committee would consist of legislators appointed by Senate and House leaders, members of the Senate and House Finance committees, members of the Senate and House Local Government committees, and the Secretary of Revenue. The committee would have one year from its creation to report its findings. I introduced a similar measure as Senate Bill 446.

We have nearly 100,000 nonprofits across the Commonwealth, providing critical services to our communities, helping vulnerable populations in this Commonwealth and reducing the burden of local governments with regard to administering government functions for those populations. This makes it vital for the legislature to talk about the many issues and meet with all stakeholders involved to achieve the appropriate balance between the cost of services provided by local governments and the protection of our local charities.
Senator Scavello Discusses SR 28

Senate Approves Increased Accountability for State Contracts

The Senate approved legislation Monday that would provide more accountability in the awarding of state sole-source/no-bid and emergency contracts.

Senate Bill 316 address issues outlined in an October 2009 Auditor General audit on technology contracts.

The apparent lack of openness, transparency, and accountability has too often raised suspicion of the Commonwealth’s procurement process. These difficulties especially arise whenever the state enters into sole-source (and sometimes no-bid) contracts or “emergency procurements.”

This legislation would require more public access to procurement records, including the posting of information on the websites of the Department of General Services and other purchasing agencies. Written determinations of purchasing officers would also be required when entering into sole-source/no-bid and emergency contracts deemed to be “in the best interests of the Commonwealth.”

Senate Approves Bill Regulating Healthcare Exchange Navigators

The Senate approved legislation on Monday that would provide essential protection of consumers’ rights and personal information under the federal health care act.

Senate Bill 293, also known as the Navigator Accessibility and Regulation Act, would require Healthcare Exchange Navigators be certified by the Department of Insurance and pass a criminal background check. The federal Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) relies on individuals, generally called “navigators,” to educate and enroll millions of uninsured Americans in either Medicaid or a private insurance plan. Although in many respects these navigators act like insurance agents, they have almost no qualifications or restrictions placed upon them.

Other bills approved by the Senate this week include:

Senate Bill 9 which would require anyone requesting public benefits in the Commonwealth to provide identification proving they are a legal resident.

Senate Bill 166 which would allow courts to grant expungement if the crime is a misdemeanor of the third or second degree and the individual has not been arrested or prosecuted for seven to ten years following the completion of the sentence or judicial supervision.

Senate Bill 179 which consolidates several statutes relating to hotels and other lodging establishments.

Committee Holds Public Hearing on Medical Cannabis

The Senate State Government Committee held a public hearing on Wednesday on Senate Bill 3, a measure that would allow physicians to provide medical cannabis to patients in Pennsylvania.

The purpose of the hearing was to hear from people on both sides of the issue and discuss possible amendments to the bill, including Real-Time Registry; research supporting expansion of the list of diseases; and best methods of delivery for patients using medical cannabis. Senate Bill 3 would allow patients who have a recommendation from their doctor to purchase and use medical cannabis from centers licensed by a to-be-created State Board of Medical Cannabis Licensing.

Click here for video and written testimony from the hearing.

Committee Hearing Focuses on Veterans’ Issues

The Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee held a public hearing on Wednesday to gather testimony on veterans’ issues. The panel heard from federal and state officials as well as representatives from veterans’ organizations during the hearing.

Click here for video and written testimony from the hearing.

Next Week

The Senate reconvenes Monday at 1 p.m. On Tuesday at noon, the governor will present his proposed 2015-16 state budget to a joint session of the legislature. You can watch the address and Senate session live at

Senate Committee Schedule

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Senate Box 203040
Harrisburg, PA 17120-3040
Phone: (717) 787-6123
Fax: (717) 772-3695

Monroe County Office

DePue Plaza
2989 Route 611, Suite 103
Tannersville, PA 18372
Phone: (570) 620-4326
FAX: (570) 620-4379
Monday - Friday
9 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.

Northampton County Office

2 North Robinson Avenue
Pen Argyl, PA 18072
Phone: (610) 863-1200
FAX: (610) 863-1214

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