Health - September 30, 2016

Wolf Calls for Action on Drugs

With just days left in the 2015-16 legislative session, Governor Wolf has asked the legislature for dramatic action to combat the abuse of heroin and other opioids.

In a rare joint session of the legislature, the Governor laid out his priorities for addressing the epidemic.

Most legislators have weighed in on the opioid crisis and, in fact, there are dozens of bills that have been languishing in Committee.

By placing the issue at the top of Harrisburg’s priority list, the Governor has already stimulated action.

Both chambers have moved legislation to the floor and it is likely that many of these bills will be moved forward during the week of October 17.

Some critics are concerned that the rush to address the issue right at election time does not give sufficient time to review the specifics of the legislation.

Still, given the political popularity of “opioid reform,” expect a wave of bills to reach the Governor’s desk before the end of session.


Pension Reform on Deck?

Meanwhile, legislative leaders are still saying that they have not abandoned their original priority of meaningful pension reform.

While opioid legislation will appear on House and Senate calendars, it is expected that some version of SB 1071, the original pension reform package passed by the Senate and stymied in the House, will reappear soon.

Word has it that leaders are considering alterations to bring the “replacement income” for retirees closer to the expectations of interest groups like state employee unions.

If that can be done without excessively raising costs, there may be an agreement that can pass muster in the legislature and with the Governor.