Health - January 30, 2015

Governor, House of Representatives set legislative agenda for the 2015-16 Session

As the 2015-16 General Assembly met for the second week of the new session, officials outlined their legislative agenda for the next two years.  Majority Leader Dave Reed (R-Indiana) reaffirmed the House of Representatives’ commitment to pension reform and liquor privatization.  Last session, liquor privatization passed the House, but failed to be voted out of the Senate Liquor Committee.  Subsequently, the House of Representatives did not vote on a proposed pension reform plan—which sought to create a pension and 401(k) hybrid for state employees and decrease a $52 billion liability for the Commonwealth.

Meanwhile, Governor Tom Wolf hopes to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10 an hour—a goal he made while campaigning for governor.  Wolf also met with supporters of cannabis and solidified his support for decriminalizing medical marijuana—a policy that has gained traction in the Senate.  Last session, a similar bill passed the Senate, but the bill was never considered in the House and then-Governor Tom Corbett opposed legalization.


Corbett last-minute appointments to be reviewed by state Senate

Just before leaving office, former Governor Tom Corbett nominated over 2 dozen individuals for vacant positions.  Yet, the state Senate did not confirm these nominees prior to Governor Tom Wolf assuming office.  As a result, Wolf attempted to rescind the nominations, despite the Senate’s refusal to grant his request.  Instead, the Senate Rules Committee approved 13 individuals, so that the full chamber can confirm or reject the nominations. This is just the latest development in personnel changes after Wolf removed Erik Arneson as Executive Director of the Office of Open Records. Wolf upholds that his attempting to maintain transparency in his administration.

Arneson was appointed by Corbett and has since filed suit against the Wolf Administration for "violating the constitutional principle of separation of powers and the Right-to-Know law." Arneson maintains he was removed without cause while the Wolf administration maintains that it is an at-will position and the holder of said position can be removed at any time "without establishing cause." A court hearing on the matter is scheduled for next week.