Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness 2023-2024
The Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee met on Wednesday, September 20, 2023 and reported out the following:
Senate Bill 792 (Robinson/Costa) – bill would create a Type 3 Urban Search and Rescue Team in Allegheny County
- SB792 was reported as committed by an 8-2 vote (Tartaglione, Dush voted no; Muth on personal leave)
Senate Bill 933 (Mastriano) – bill would reform the structure and appointment guidelines for the advisory councils that oversee each of the state veterans’ homes
- Senator Mastriano offered amendment A02022 which clarified certain appointments to the advisory councils.
- Amendment A02022 was unanimously adopted and SB 933 was unanimously reported as amended (Muth on personal leave)
The Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee met on Monday, June 26, 2023, and reported out the following:
House Bill 804 (Burns): Guarantees in-state tuition at public institutions of higher education in Pennsylvania for dependents of members of the military, veterans, and civilian defense employees in cases where the family relocates between the time the student accepts admission and the first semester begins.
- House Bill 804 was unanimously reported as committed.
Senate Resolution 136 (Dillon) – extending the disaster declaration for the I-95 collapse in Northeast Philadelphia to June 12, 2024.
- Sen. Mastriano offered Amendment A01327 which extends the disaster declaration to November 1, 2023. The amendment was unanimously adopted.
- Senate Resolution 136 was unanimously reported as amended.
The Committee also reported the nomination of Acting State Fire Commissioner Tom Cook with a favorable recommendation by a unanimous vote.
The Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee met on Monday, June 19, 2023, and reported out the following:
Senate Bill 438 (Bartolotta) – would require the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to design an official Commonwealth logo for veteran-owned businesses. Eligible veteran-owned businesses would be required to pay a $250 initial registration fee and a $100 annual renewal fee for the use of the logo and 50 percent of those proceeds would be transferred to the Veterans Trust Fund and the other half would cover administrative costs.
- Senate Bill 438 was unanimously reported as committed.
Senate Bill 531 (Baker) – would establish a Grant Evaluation Committee under the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to review and evaluate applications for grants under the Veterans’ Trust Fund. The Grant Evaluation Committee would include the majority and minority chairs of the House and the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committees.
- Senate Bill 531 was reported as committed by a 7-4 vote (party-line)
Senate Resolution 46 (Pennycuick) – concurrent resolution that would direct the Joint State Government Commission to establish the Task Force on Women Veterans’ Health Care to study the health care needs of women veterans.
- Sen. Pennycuick offered Amendment A01042 which changes the resolution from a concurrent resolution to a Senate Resolution and makes other clarifying changes. The amendment was adopted by a unanimous vote.
- Senate Resolution 46 was unanimously reported as amended.
The Committee also reported out the following General Officer promotion nominees by a unanimous vote:
Air National Guard
Brigadier General Mark A. Goodwill TO Major General
Colonel Edward J. Fink, Jr. TO Brigadier General
Colonel Rebecca A. Gray TO Brigadier General
Colonel Deane E. Thomey TO Brigadier General
Army National Guard
Brigadier General Jeffrey S. Heasley TO Major General
Brigadier General Laura A. McHugh TO Major General
Colonel Reece J. Lutz TO Brigadier General
Colonel Robert C. Jorgensen TO Brigadier General
Colonel Jon D. Farr TO Brigadier General
The Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee met on Wednesday, April 26, 2023, and reported out the following:
Senate Bill 81 (Phillips-Hill) would permanently permit EMS providers to leave a dose package of naloxone with the on-scene caregiver of a patient who overdosed on opioids and was revived by the EMS, providing a standing prescription has been issued by the Department of Health.
- Sen. Mastriano offered amendment A00332 to remove language regarding insurance billing. The amendment was adopted unanimously.
- SB81 was reported as amended by a unanimous vote.
Senate Bill 189 (J. Ward) would increase the monthly pension amounts for the Blind Veterans Pension Program and the Amputee and Paralyzed Veterans Pension Program from $150 to $180 per month.
- Sen. Muth offered amendment A00295 to increase the monthly benefit for both programs to $200 per month. The amendment was adopted by a unanimous vote.
- SB189 was reported as amended by a unanimous vote.
Senate Resolution 82 (Robinson) urges the Secretary of the Navy to designate Philadelphia and portions of the Delaware River as the site of the main celebration of the 250th birthdays of the United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps in October and November, 2025.
- SB189 was reported as committed by a unanimous vote.
The Committee also reported out the nomination of Maj. Gen. Mark Schindler as Adjutant General by a unanimous vote.
The Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee met today, March 8, 2023 and reported out the following:
- Senate Bill 433 (Baker) would require Senate confirmation of the PEMA Director.
- Reported as committed by a vote of 8-3 (Muth, Kane, Tartaglione voted no)
- Senate Bill 508 (Mastriano) establishing an emergency grant program for PA residents and small businesses impacted by the train derailment and chemical release.
- Unanimously reported as committed.
- Senate Resolution 59 (Mastriano) recognizing the impact of the train derailment and chemical release on PA and calling on Congress and US DOT to hold Norfolk Southern accountable.
- Unanimously reported as committed.
- Motion to Subpoena to Norfolk Southern asking for specific documentation, data and test results regarding the train derailment, controlled burn/chemical release.
- Motion passed by a unanimous vote.
The Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee met today, March 1, 2023 and reported out the following:
- SB 162 (Hutchinson) Would broaden the definition of ‘health professional’ in the Medical Officer or Health Officer Incentive Program to include additional health professionals.
- SB162 was unanimously reported as committed
- SB 446 (Mastriano) Language states that members of the PA National Guard and PA Air National Guard will never be required to receive a COVID-19 vaccination
- SB446 was reported as committed by a party-line vote (7-4)
- SB 447 (Mastriano) Would formally establish the DMVA “Vet Connect” program in law
- SB447 was unanimously reported as committed.
- A motion to authorize the issuance of a subpoena to Norfolk Southern president Alan Shaw to appear before the Committee to discuss the train derailment.
- Senator Muth made a Subsidiary Motion to command Alan Shaw to also produce to the Committee any and all testing data done by Norfolk Southern since the train derailment; modeling data and information related to the decision that a controlled burn was the safest course of action to deal with the substances on the train; and information about the contents of all train cars. Senator Muth’s Subsidiary Motion was tabled by a party-line 6-4 vote (Sen. Langerholc recused himself from the vote).
- Senator Collett made a motion to table the motion to subpoena and that motion failed by a party line 6-4 vote (Sen. Langerholc recused himself from the vote).
- The motion to subpoena Norfolk Southern president Alan Shaw to appear before the Committee next Wednesday, March 8 was approved by a 9-1 vote (Sen. Pennycuick voted against the motion, Sen. Langerholc recused himself from the vote)
The Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee met on January 10, 2023, and reported out the following:
Senate Bill 126 (Mastriano) provides for the exclusion of 100% of a veteran’s federal disability compensation or pension from income calculations for any Commonwealth program or benefit.
- The bill was unanimously reported as committed.
Senate Bill 141 (Mastriano) provides the ability to recognize civilians and members of the military of a friendly foreign nation with the awarding of the Pennsylvania Distinguished Service Medal and the Pennsylvania Meritorious Service Medal.
- The bill was unanimously reported as committed.
Senator Katie Muth