NOW THERE ARE TWO OMNIBUS AG PLANS
In addition to the PA Farm Bill advanced by the Wolf Administration, Senate Republicans are pushing a package of seven “Farming First” bills designed to help PA Agriculture.
- AGRI-TOURISM: Senate Bill 583 (Aument-R-Lancaster) seeks to standardize what constitutes agri-tourism on preserved farms. Status: Passed by the Senate May 7 by a 47-0 vote.
- AGRI-TOURISM: Senate Bill 453 (Ward-R-Blair) provides for an exemption from the Universal Construction Code for buildings that host weddings, receptions and similar events. Status: Passed the the Senate 27-20 on May 7. Its’ House counterpart, House Bill 1037 (Lawrence-R-Chester) was reported out by the House Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee 17-7 on May 7.
- BEGINNING FARMERS: Senate Bill 478 (Vogel-R-Beaver) provides a Personal Income Tax credit to landowners who lease or sell their land, buildings, and equipment to beginning farmers. Status: The Senate voted for passage 47-0 on May 7.
- DAIRY: Senate Bill 585 (Corman-R-Centre) would establish the PA Dairy Future Commission to bring together stakeholders and state agencies to recommend solutions to problems faced by PA dairy farmers. Status: Passed Senate 47-0 on May 7.
- DAIRY: Senate Bill 588 (Ward-R-Blair and Yaw-R-Lycoming) permits milk haulers to travel on highways during a declaration of emergency. This is identical to House Bill 915 which is awaiting House action. Status: Passed 32-15 on May 7.
- FARM SUCCESSION: Senate Bill 145 (Yaw) gives farmers more discretion regarding construction and subdivision of residences on protected farmland. Its’ purpose is to help with farm succession. Status: Reported out by Senate Appropriations Committee April 8 by a 22-0 vote. Its’ counterpart is House-passed House Bill 370 (Klunk-R-York).
- TRANSPORTATION: Senate Bill 338 (Langerholc-R-Cambria) would increase allowable width of farm equipment from the current 16 feet to 18 feet. Status: Reported out unanimously by the Senate Appropriations Committee May 6.
HOUSE CTE PACKAGE IS IN SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE
- The package of House-passed career & technical education bills have all been referred to the Senate Education Committee. They are: House Bill 393 (Harkins-D-Erie) establishing an interagency (Agriculture, Education, Labor & Industry Departments) online career resource center; House Bill 394 (Mullery-D-Luzerne) directing the Departments of Education and Labor & Industry to set up a workforce development program clearinghouse; House Bill 297 (Mako-R-Northampton) directing the Department of Education to prepare materials outlining future workforce needs and earnings potentials; House Bill 334 (Grove-R-York) setting procedures for public schools to apply for a vocational classification code for a specified program of technical education. It also authorizes the Commission for Agricultural Education Excellence, with approval by the Department of Education, to develop guidelines when a student may apply an academic course, program, or activity towards completion of an agricultural education program.
- House Bill 915 which allows milk hauling even when a state of emergency passed the House 136-61 on May 7. Note: This is a veto-proof majority given PennDOT’s opposition to the bill.
- House Bill 629 (Rapp-R-Warren) mandates health insurer coverage for extended antibiotic treatment of Lyme disease. It passed the House and was referred to the Senate Banking & Insurance Committee on April 22.
- May 5-11 has been recognized as Conservation District Week per House Resolution 249 (Causer-R-Cameron/McKean/Potter) which was adopted April 29 by the House.
- Also adopted April 29 was House Resolution 252 (Zimmerman-R-Lancaster) designating April 27 as “World Veterinary Day” in Pennsylvania.
- Now in the Senate Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee is House Bill 441 (Sonney-R-Erie) allowing right-of-ways for wind power generating systems on protected farmland.
There is exciting news from the General Assembly regarding a PSCFO top priority – universal access to Broadband throughout rural PA. The House Broadband Caucus reorganized for this legislative session. Co-chairs are Rep. Pam Snyder (D-Fayette/Greene/Washington) and Rep. Rich Irvin (R-Mifflin/Huntingdon/Centre). Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York) announced that she will try to establish a joint House and Senate Broadband Caucus.
One of the Broadband bills, House Bill 305 (Snyder) directing the Commonwealth to prepare an inventory of state-owned structures that could be ‘piggy-backed’ with telecommunications equipment in a public-private partnership, was reported out unanimously by the State Government Committee on May 6.
COMING UP… The House Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee will have a May 16 informational meeting on the forest products industry…On May 9, the House Environmental Resources & Energy Committee will hold an informational meeting to discuss the Department of Environmental Protection permitting process…The Senate Appropriations Committee is considering four of the Senate Republicans’ “Farming First” package – SB 338, SB 478, SB 583, and SB 585.