The floor of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives (Photo by Amanda Mustard for the Pennsylvania Capital-Star).
Happy weekend, all.
A bill that would bring historical experts and emergency management officials to the table for discussions about how best to safeguard historic places across the commonwealth from the effects of climate change has passed the House with bipartisan support.
The bill, HB 1231, passed the House on Wednesday in a 128-75 vote, and would add a representative from the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) and the Pennsylvania Historical Museum Commission (PHMC) to the State Planning Board.
State Rep. Christina Sappey, D-Chester, is the prime sponsor of the bill. She said the addition of PEMA and PHMC representatives would reflect the board’s “growing role in combating climate change and protecting the historical legacy that makes Pennsylvania unique.”
“By adding representatives from PEMA and PHMC, the board would enhance the effectiveness of its reports and recommendations, ensuring that Pennsylvania’s communities are well prepared for the increasing frequency and intensity of storms caused by climate change,” Sappey said in a statement following the bill’s passage.
The 25-member board, which serves an advisory role with the governor’s office, is charged with guiding land use regulations, safeguarding historical heritage and governing the physical development of communities.
Currently, the board is made up of 15 gubernatorial appointees, four representatives from the General Assembly, and six secretaries from state agencies.
The six agencies represented on the board include the Department of Agriculture, Department of Community and Economic Development, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Department of Environment Protection, PennDOT, and the Department of Human Services.
In 2018 alone, PEMA estimated that severe weather caused approximately $125 million in damage to public infrastructure due to flooding and landslides, which are expected to worsen as Pennsylvania’s climate patterns shift, according to state data.
The bill now heads to the state Senate for consideration.
As always, the top five stories from this week are below.
Long-awaited legislation that would limit the number of patients that hospitals can assign to an individual nurse passed in the Pennsylvania House on Wednesday with bipartisan support.
The Patient Safety Act, which specifies the number of patients per-nurse required in different hospital settings, passed with a 119-84 vote. Two Democrats voted against the bill, while 19 Republicans voted in favor of House Bill 106, which now goes to the state Senate for consideration.
State Rep. Justin Fleming told a story on the Pennsylvania House floor of friends who bought a home and discovered the deed to the property contained an archaic and racist restriction on who could live there.
On Wednesday, the chamber passed Fleming’s bill with a 200-3 vote to allow property owners and homeowners associations to file papers with county recorders of deeds to repudiate such restrictive covenants. The bill will now be considered in the state Senate.
When it was first announced in 2012, Shell’s ethane cracker plant in Beaver County was sold as an engine that would help revitalize western Pennsylvania’s economy.
But a new report indicates that the plant, which launched in November 2022, has yet to deliver on that promised prosperity, and that Beaver County “has lagged the state and nation in nearly every measure of economic activity,” according to the Ohio River Valley Institute, which conducted the research.
Dual debates involving public education alternatives —among the most divisive issues before the Pennsylvania Legislature — simmered in the state Capitol on Tuesday as lawmakers worked toward a deadline Friday to pass the state budget.
*Educators and public school advocates voiced sharp opposition to school vouchers, an option Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro said he supports. While Shapiro has not endorsed specific legislation, a Republican-backed bill that would provide publicly-funded scholarships to send students in the state’s lowest performing school districts to private schools is pending action in the state Senate.
Pennsylvania House Republican leaders said Monday that their caucus withheld support for three state-related universities in votes on budget bills because the schools refused to guarantee they would not increase tuition.
The votes, which required support from two-thirds of the 203-member chamber, mean that $620 million in funding for Temple and Penn State universities and the University of Pittsburgh will be in limbo as the General Assembly works toward passing a budget by Friday’s deadline.
And that’s the week. We’ll see you back here next week.
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