SB 479, PN 510 (Pittman) – The bill amends Title 71 (State Government) allows for commissioned police officers employed by the Department of Corrections, Bureau of Investigations and Intelligence, to be classified as “enforcement officers” relating to SERS. A vote of 50-0 was recorded.

SB 832, PN 1277 (Yaw) – This legislation amends Title 71 by adding Chapter 43 to establish an Independent Energy Office as a nonpartisan independent agency.

Amendment A04202 (Boscola) – The amendment establishes the Department of Energy. The department will be under the executive branch and has exclusive jurisdiction over PA’s energy resources. The Secretary of the new department will be confirmed by a majority vote of the Senate.

The department is required to publish a State Energy Plan relating to the State’s energy portfolio. Its duties include:

  • Overseeing energy production facilities,
  • Administering state and federal funding,
  • Issuing permits,
  • Developing policy for energy resources,
  • Planning of State energy strategies to foster new and emerging energy resources, and
  • Acting as the central state energy clearinghouse through data collections.

Certain powers and duties of DEP are transferred to the department, such as, facility development.

Certain programs under DEP or the Energy Office are moved to the department. Programs transferred includes the Energy Conservation and Assistance Act, the Building Energy Conservation Act, and the Alternative fuels. The funds established for these programs are transferred to the department for it to administer.

The department will be given enumerated administrative resources. The personnel transferred do not lose civil service status if currently assigned civil service status. All positions in the department are designated as included in the Civil Service Act.

The department is authorized to form advisory committees and to enter contracts and agreements. A savings provision for both items remaining with DEP and items transferred from DEP continue with full force and effect until otherwise changed.

Sen. Pittman motioned to table the amendment and the motion passed by vote of 28-22.

Amendment A04251 (Pittman) – The amendment moves the bill from Title 71 to the Administrative Code. It establishes a PA Opportunities with Energy Reliability Authority with board members who are required to meet at least 10 times a year with special requirements for the need to have the consent of four legislative appointees for certain actions.

The application and review for permits includes small-scale and large-scale projects. A small-scale project is an energy project that generates less than 25 megawatts, a large-scale project generates more than 25 megawatts.

A small-scale project can proceed under an alternate permit review program when a state agency has failed to issue a decision on an initial application within the required time-period, or 120 days, whichever is sooner. Fees incurred under the process are in addition to any fees paid to the original state agency.

Permit review for a small-scale project occurs by a qualified licensed professional who makes recommendations on approving or denying the issuance of a permit for board vote. A vote by the board must be by qualified majority vote, including all 4 legislative appointees, and must occur within 10 business days. An appeal of the board vote can be made to the Commonwealth Court.

The amendment provides for an accelerated Energy Development and Electric Generation Permit Review Program. The program provides a review process by a qualified licensed professional for large-scale projects which permits an applicant to file directly to the Authority instead of the state agency with statutory authority. The process requires the application be referred to the qualified licensed professional within 10 days of receipt with their review and recommendations to the board to occur within the timeframe that would have been required by the state agency or if none, then in 120 days. The board’s decision is appealable to the Commonwealth Court.

A fee for the direct application for large-scale projects shall be established by the authority and shall be deposited into the Permit Review and Regulatory Waiver Program Account.

It also creates a waiver program within the board. Applicants for large-scale programs can apply for waivers from state regulations or policies. Recipients of such waivers are not subject to prosecution or state enforcement of said regulation, but it does not create immunity from state criminal liability or Federal consumer protection regulations. Board waivers are not subject to judicial review. A fee is to be established by the board and deposited into the fund.

The amendment passed by a vote of 28-22, and the bill went over in its order as amended.

SB 920, PN 1512 (Langerholc) – The bill amends the Sexual Assault Testing and Evidence Collection Act of 2006 to establish a statewide sexual assault evidence tracking system.

Amendment A03936 (Muth) – The amendment makes a technical correction to the bill to provide the current name for the PA Coalition to Advance Respect.

Amendment A04255 (Pennycuick) – This amendment:

  • Makes a technical correction to the bill to provide the current name for the PA Coalition to Advance Respect.
  • Provides a definition of “Tracking system”.
  • Provides that the maintenance and operation of the system be done by PCCD or an entity contracted by PCCD with the exclusive responsibility and authority to maintain and operate the tracking system.
  • Provides that the tracking system be a resource for victims and information in the system may not serve as the official status of the rape kit and may not be used as evidence to challenge chain of custody.
  • Provides that the effective date of the additions to the act take effect within 60 days of enactment or March 15, 2025, whichever occurs earlier.

The amendment passed by a vote of 28-22, and the bill was re-referred to the Appropriations Committee.

SB 998, PN 1516 (Farry) – This bill further provides for definitions for racing on highways, imposing of penalties, and asset impoundment. It makes several technical changes in relevant sections. A vote of 49-1 was recorded.

HB 1661, PN 2091 (Metzger) – The bill defines xylazine, provides for prohibited uses and provides for its licit veterinary use.

Amendment A04198 (Vogel) – The amendment adds Xylazine to Schedule III of the Controlled Substance Act.

  • Schedule III substances have a potential for abuse less than the substances listed in Schedules I and II; well documented and currently accepted medical use in the United States; and abuse may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.
  • Xylazine, a non-opioid veterinary tranquilizer is not approved for human use.

The amendment passed by a vote of 50-0, and the bill went over in its order as amended.