The Senate voted 32-18 in favor of Senate Bill 3, which would amend the Abortion Control Act to provide for the definition of “dismemberment abortion.”
This bill would reduce the gestational limit for abortions from 24 weeks to 20 weeks and prohibits dilation and evacuation methods from being used to terminate a pregnancy. This method of pregnancy termination may be used in limited circumstances.
The 20-week limitation would not be applicable if a doctor determines that the life of the pregnant woman is at risk or major bodily function harm could occur. In addition, a dismemberment abortion could occur under 20 weeks if the physician performing the abortion determines that the procedure is necessary to prevent the death of the pregnant woman or to prevent the loss of her major bodily functions.
Violators could be charged with a third-degree felony. One would not be liable for attempting to perform a dismemberment abortion if they are: the female patient having the procedure, a nurse, technician, secretary or receptionist acting under the direction of a physician or a pharmacist providing materials for the procedure, under direction from the physician.
The bill now goes to the House Health Committee.
The Senate voted 37-12 in favor of Senate Bill 10, which would drastically restrict state funding to so-called “sanctuary cities” like Philadelphia.
Known as the Municipal Sanctuary and Federal Enforcement Act, or SAFE, the bill would ban municipalities from adopting sanctuary policies that do not comply with federal detention orders issued by Immigrations and Custom Enforcement.
Under the bill, government would strip grant and loan funding to sanctuary cities and allow for legal actions against cities with sanctuary policies. It is estimated that Philadelphia alone could lose over $630 million in state funding if the bill is enacted.
Bill opponents argued that the measure would deter undocumented immigrants from coming forward and cooperating with law enforcement on crimes.
The bill would not apply to municipalities that have attempted to work with federal agencies to comply with immigration orders, but were unable to do so within the federal timeframe of 48 hours.
The bill now goes to the House Judiciary Committee.
The Senate voted 28-22 in favor of Senate Bill 166, which would create the so-called “Protection of Public Employee Wages Act” to end payroll deductions of political contributions from government employees.
Proponents of the “paycheck protection” legislation claim the bill would shield union members from contributing money to political candidates or causes they don’t support.”
The legislation would still allow public-sector unions to collect membership dues from union members and deduct a “fair-share” amount from non-members – used strictly for collective-bargaining purposes, grievances and arbitration cases.
Unions could continue to spend political money, but contributions could not be collected from employee paychecks by the government.
Opponents of the bill noted that collective bargaining agreements and union dues are already prohibited from being used for political purposes. They also claim the bill is an attempt to target and weaken a union’s ability to negotiate for their members and participate in the political process.
Similar legislation was introduced last session as Senate Bill 501, which passed the Senate with a vote of 26-23 and then was not voted upon in the House.
The bill now goes to the House State Government Committee.
The Senate voted 38-11 in favor of Senate Bill 170, which would require the Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA) to adopt an open records policy, create a commuter’s council to oversee the agency’s activity and enter Pennsylvania into a compact with New Jersey.
The DRPA manages connecting bridges between Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. Any changes proposed by this legislation would need to be passed in New Jersey as well. The bill would place several restrictions on the DRPA and the authority’s ability to act independently on financial and economic development projects. The DRPA would have several oversight rules placed on their members and actions to prohibit the abuse of power or resources.
DRPA board members would be banned from receiving gifts, toll exemptions and other benefits that would have been personally beneficial to their board position. In addition, the Senate would be required to approve the governor’s board appointments.
Media accounts of board members misusing their free bridge toll perk and other abuses prompted the reform bill.
The bill now goes to the House Transportation Committee.
The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 181, which would create the requirement for a version of performance-based budgeting and tax credit efficiency review.
The bill would establish a Performance-based Budget Board, which would be responsible for acting as a review board to “approve the performance-based budget plans developed by the Independent Fiscal Office for agencies and to make recommendations on how each agency’s operations and programs may be made more transparent, effective and efficient.”
Every state agency would be required to create a performance-based budget. Performance measurements would be required to include efficiency measures, cost analyses, status improvements of the applicable demographic receiving the services, economic outcomes and agency benchmarks. Agencies would need to detail the number of individuals served by a program receiving funding. They would also be required to include their mission statement and program goals.
This legislation includes provisions for the Independent Fiscal Office to evaluate tax credits offered to various companies and individuals within Pennsylvania. This evaluation would examine the tax credits current use and determine if the tax credit could be more efficiency and effectively carried out.
The bill now goes to the House Appropriation Committee.
The Senate voted 36-14 in favor of Senate Bill 241, which would amend the Equal Pay Law to allow for pay variations among employees of similar positions based on the employee’s education, training or experience.
Currently the Equal Pay Law provides for a few exceptions in which an employer could pay a similar positioned employee a different wage. This amendment would add education, training and experience to the list of qualifying exceptions for varying pay rates.
The bill also prevents an employer from discriminating against an employee who has made a charge or filed a complaint in relation to an employee’s wage under the Equal Pay Law. The bill also prevents an employer from denying an employee the right to disclose their wage as a condition of their employment.
The bill was amended to include a preemption clause, which would allow for this amendment to supersede local ordinances relating to the Equal Pay Law.
The bill now goes to the House Labor and Industry Committee.
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