Flurry of Legislative Action This Week
This week the House and Senate wrapped up their final voting days for the 2015-2016 legislative session. Over a dozen bills were sent to the Governor for his signature. During the fall session the legislature and Governor were able to accomplish four major items:
--Combatting the opioid and heroin crisis through measures that strengthened the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program and implemented education for health care providers on opioid prescribing.
--Modernizing the sale of beer and liquor by approving the sale of six-packs of beer at distributors throughout the commonwealth.
--Legalizing ride-sharing across the Commonwealth and sending a portion of the revenue derived from ride-sharing in Philadelphia to Philadelphia City Schools.
--Making critical reforms to Unemployment Insurance to strengthen the solvency of the UC Trust Fund and make an estimated 44,000 seasonal workers eligible for unemployment benefits.
Major issues that remain unresolved are comprehensive pension and gaming reform. Both items saw action this week—a Conference Committee Report on pension reform was sent to both chambers for approval but failed to come up for a final vote in either chamber. The House re-referred the report back to the Conference Committee for further modification. On gaming reform, the Senate sent the House language to fix the local shares issue but the House went one step further and inserted iGaming, daily fantasy sports betting, and airport iGaming tablets into the bill, which means it has to go back to the Senate for final approval. As of today, it’s unclear if the House or Senate will take up either of these issues on their final scheduled session days—which fall after Election Day, a time when the legislature typically chooses not cast votes on major issues.