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Senator Mario Scavello

In this Edition:

  • Vote on Property Tax Elimination Moved to Next Week
  • Syrian Refugee Policy
  • Senate Approves Scavello Bill Requiring Senate Confirmation of Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commissioners
  • Voters to Decide Mandatory Retirement Age for Judges
  • Bills Approved by the Senate and Sent to the House of Representatives
  • Bills Sent to Governor for Enactment
  • Senate Game and Fisheries Committee Meeting
  • Thursdays on “Gary in the Morning,” Pocono 96.7
  • Next Week

It was my privilege to tour Life Path in Bethlehem and see their tireless work with those with intellectual and physical disabilities. While there I met Joy, who colored a picture for me. I have nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for all the work Life Path does.

Vote on Property Tax Elimination Moved to Next Week

Taxpayers have waited more than 30 years for a legislative vote to eliminate burdensome, outdated property taxes. While we had expected a Senate vote on the issue this week, we’ll have to wait a few more days.

Some minor technical concerns regarding implementation of Senate Bill 76 have been raised. I and the bipartisan group of legislators leading the fight for property tax elimination agreed to make tweaks to the proposal and have it considered next week by the full Senate.

While the delay is disappointing, tweaking the bill now will help remove obstacles to its enactment down the road. We’re closer than ever due to the efforts of more than 80 grassroots taxpayer advocacy groups from across the state. We’ll fight for Senate passage next week and then send it to the House of Representatives and a step closer to historic enactment.

Syrian Refugee Policy

Thank you to the many who have contacted me to express concern regarding the Syrian refugee crisis and the potential security threats posed by allowing these refugees into the United States. I agree with your concerns.

As you may know, Governor Wolf has unilaterally agreed to work with the Obama Administration to allow Syrian refugees to settle in Pennsylvania.

While I understand America’s historic role in supporting and providing for the less fortunate, I have significant concern over the vetting procedures (or lack thereof) being employed by the Federal Government. To move so quickly on settling refugees before their backgrounds or “connections” are fully known puts the safety of Pennsylvania Citizens at risk.

As State Senator, I am signing onto a resolution sponsored by Senator Rafferty urging the governor to not accept Syrian refugees at this time until we receive greater clarity about how the Federal Government is vetting these individuals.

The Federal Government has proven woefully inept at securing our own southern border, so any skepticism over its ability to properly administer background checks from citizens of another country with a high level of terrorist activity is certainly warranted.

As of now, our state and federal resources are best devoted to ensuring the safety and well-being of our own citizens. With thousands of homeless veterans and many citizens living in poverty, resolving these issues should be the focus of government activity at every level.

Senate Approves Scavello Bill Requiring Senate Confirmation of Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commissioners

Legislation I introduced requiring Senate confirmation of appointees to the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission (DRJTBC), Senate Bill 927, was approved Tuesday by the Senate.

The DRJTBC is made up of five commissioners each from New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The New Jersey members are nominated by the governor and confirmed by the New Jersey State Senate. The Pennsylvania members are appointed by the governor and serve without Senate consideration.

The commission maintains 20 bridges along 140 miles of the Delaware River. Eighty-five percent of the commission’s revenue comes from DRJTBC District 2 and District 3, which include Monroe and Northampton counties of the 40th Senatorial District.

Given that the decisions made by the DRJTBC greatly impact businesses and motorists, it makes common sense to have its members vetted by the Senate. It’s well past time for Pennsylvania to catch up to New Jersey and ensure that we our doing our due diligence with the DRJTBC.

Senate Bill 927 now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Congratulations to Steph Molerio on your Gold Award! I was honored to attend your ceremony and witness your achievement. Steph's project hosted a flag retirement for US flags used throughout our community. A truly wonderful event and I wish you only the best!

Voters to Decide Mandatory Retirement Age for Judges

The Senate approved legislation this week that will give Pennsylvania voters the ultimate decision on whether the mandatory retirement age of judges should be increased.

House Bill 89 increases the mandatory retirement age for judges and magisterial district judges from 70 to 75 years in the Judicial Code. This bill only becomes effective if a proposed constitutional amendment, House Bill 90, which was approved in two consecutive legislative sessions, is adopted by the voters.

Bills Approved by the Senate and Sent to the House of Representatives

Senate Bill 62 amends state law regarding probationary driver’s licenses.

Senate Bill 146 requires passengers in a vehicle to render aid to any person injured in an accident.

Senate Bill 518 gives people the power to plan for the management and disposition of their digital assets in the same way they can make plans for their tangible property: by providing instructions in a will, trust, or power of attorney.

Senate Bill 927 requires Senate approval of Pennsylvania’s representatives on the Delaware River Bridge Commission.

House Bill 934 amends the Public Welfare Code to codify the Keystone Education Yields Success (KEYS) Program. The bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.

Senate Bill 1045 standardizes the definition of “Veteran” by defining the term “Conditions other than Dishonorable.”

Senate Bill 1046 standardizes the process for promotion on the retired list of the Pennsylvania National Guard.

House Bill 1411 brings Pennsylvania into compliance with changes made by Congress to the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act. The bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.

Bills Sent to Governor for Enactment

Eight bills received final legislative approval this week and were sent to the Governor for enactment into law.

Senate Bill 77 provides regulatory relief for beagle trainers.

House Bill 239 amends the County Pension Law to further provide for definitions and for supplemental benefits.

Senate Bill 609 creates the Prostate Cancer Surveillance, Education, Detection and Treatment Act.

House Bill 753 establishes the Pennsylvania Long-Term Care Council within the Department of Aging.

Senate Bill 775 updates and revises the Third Class City Code.

Senate Bill 791, which amends the Second Class Township Code further providing for removal of elected township officers for failure to perform duties.

Senate Bill 793 amends the Second Class Township Code to further provide for property maintenance codes, reserved powers, and the Uniform Construction Code.

Senate Bill 887 protects highway workers, first emergency responders and others from careless and reckless drivers traveling in work zones.

Senate Game and Fisheries Committee Meeting

The Senate Game and Fisheries Committee, which I chair, met Tuesday to consider two bills.

Senate Bill 1065, which I am sponsoring, would add falconry to list of exemptions for Sunday hunting. Currently, state law prohibits hunting on Sunday with the exception of the hunting of foxes and coyotes.

Falconry is the sport of hunting small game species with birds of prey. Of all the field sports that fall under the jurisdiction of the Pennsylvania Game Commission, falconry is the only one that uses a trained wild animal. The hawks and falcons that are utilized are a valuable part of the Commonwealth's wildlife and the current laws and regulations governing falconry have been enacted to ensure that the competent falconer recognizes this and takes care to follow sound conservation principles in pursuit of the sport.

This legislation is being offered because these birds of prey are wild and need to fly and eat daily. A falconer who wishes to take his or her bird of prey out in the wild, even for daily flight and not to hunt, would still be in violation of the Sunday hunting prohibition. Falconers do not use a gun or a bow, therefore an exception would be less intrusive than fox and coyote hunting which is already allowed on Sundays.

House Bill 698 allows the use of a motorized wheelchair by permanently disabled hunters, and provides permits for individuals with disabilities.

Both bills were unanimously approved by the committee and are now before the full Senate.

This week I met with representatives from Bayada Home Health Care. Pictured are Allina Prutzman, Donna Buhosky, and Anita Weinberg.

Thursdays on Gary in the Morning, Pocono 96.7

On Thursdays, I will be on Gary in the Morning 96.7 at 7:30 a.m. to answer your questions. Thanks to everyone who has called in so far, I look forward to giving you updates in the future.

Next Week

The Senate returns to voting session on Monday. You can watch session live at

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