Senate readies new pension bill
Pension reform has been at the forefront of the legislature’s key priorities as PA’s pension debt continues to mount. On Monday, several Senators put forth their cosponsor memo for the latest pension reform package. Senator Patrick M. Browne, Sen. Jake Corman, Sen. Joseph B. Scarnati, III, and Sen. John R. Gordner circulated the memo which details the latest effort in Pennsylvania. The bill is said to be nearly identical to the measure that almost passed the House last fall; featuring a “side-by-side hybrid plan” for future employees. One new component of the bill will allow current members of the Pennsylvania State Employees’ Retirement System and Pennsylvania School Employees’ Retirement System to opt into the new plan that will be offered. Last fall’s bill fell short by just three votes in the House.
Department of Human Services reworks unpopular proposal
The Department of Humans Services (DHS) pulled a proposal this week that would have required disabled people to participate in a community activity in order to receive certain benefits. Those benefits are work services: sheltered workshops, vocational programs, and day training programs. A quarter of a recipients work week would have to be spent in these community activities in order to continue to receive services. Families and legislators rallied against the proposal; citing that the requirement would be detrimental to the individuals participating and the schedule and relationships they’ve built in their current programs. The proposal was a result of a federal mandate that requires an outlet beyond workshops or day programs for participants or they could lose federal funding. The idea was to get those participants involved in community life as much as possible. After hearing feedback though, DHS pulled back and said services would be required to offer the option of community activities but not require participation.