Friday File

October 21, 2016

October Surprises

As the nation braces for the final days of the most contentious Presidential season in recent history, the Pennsylvania legislature may a have a few October surprises of its own.

Dormant for much of the year, the House and Senate will spring into action to push through several initiatives as the 2015-16 comes to a close. The timing leaves little opportunity for real debate or thoughtful consideration – but that’s the point. Pushing even complex matters through the process becomes possible when legislators are itching to get back on the campaign trail.

Here are a few of the items that are likely to see some movement in the coming week:

Pension Reform – one of the most complicated and consequential policies that has been discussed for years, pension reform may be presented in the form of a compromise that is referred to as a “side-by-side” hybrid plan. Few legislators have mastered the nuances of the changes being proposed but it is likely that there will be an up-or-down vote in both chambers before the end of next week.

Beer Sales – While the legislature enacted wine sales reforms in July, beer distributors and others believe that the changes left them out of the equation. Changes to allow the sale of small packages and growlers at distributors is in the works.

Gaming – income from proposed changes in gaming that was penciled in to the FY 2016-17 budget never materialized. Leaders believe that they can put a package of gaming expansion and reforms together that can provide as much as $150 million in additional state revenue.

Child Sexual Abuse – Advocates believe that can take one final shot at reforming Pennsylvania’s statutes of limitations that currently prevent some victims from having their day in court. The House and Senate have passed different versions of HB 1947 and there may be one final push to get a strong bill to the Governor’s desk.

Items left on the agenda will simply drop off the calendar after November 30.