Harrisburg Capitol Building
()

Following is a listing of executive and legislative action for the week of March 17. Members of the General Assembly were set to return to session March 24.

Special Election

Businessman Scott Wagner, a write-in candidate, won a special election to fill a York County seat in the state Senate made vacant by the resignation of Republican Mike Waugh.

Wagner is a registered Republican who identified himself as an “independent conservative.” He defeated the endorsed candidates of the major parties in an election that drew less than 14 percent turnout, the York Dispatch reported.

Wagner got 10,595 votes, 47.7 percent of the 22,219 cast. State Rep. Ron Miller, R-York, received 5,920 votes, 26.6 percent, while Democrat Linda Small received 5,704 votes, 25.7 percent. Wagner is set to serve out the rest of Waugh’s term and would have to win the Nov. 4 general election to get a new four-year term.

Bills Approved

• The state House of Representatives cleared a measure, HB 1298, that would statutorily define recovery-based housing and establish statewide standards. Recovery-based housing facilities offer assistance to individuals with substance-abuse problems, according to the bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Frank Farry, R-Bucks.

The bill would require the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs to define the term “recovery house,” determine guidelines for inspection of the facilities and establish penalties for violations of the regulations.

• HB 2026 would strengthen felony charges for anyone who deliberately harms or kills a K-9 officer in the line of duty. The bill is on its way to the Senate. The bill honors Pittsburgh K-9 officer Rocco, who was stabbed in pursuit of a suspect. He later died.

• HB 1684, which would set a minimum royalty payment for oil and gas extraction in state law, was approved by the House environmental resources and energy committee. Although a 1979 state law guaranteed a minimum royalty to landowners of one-eighth, language was not clear for unconventional wells, namely those in the Marcellus Shale, according to state Rep. Tina Pickett, R-Bradford, one of the bill’s sponsors. In addition, the law did not specify terms such as “post-production costs.” As a result, the state Supreme Court determined that the General Assembly needed to define those terms in order to clarify the law for current drilling activity.

Bills Introduced

• HB 2096, which would encourage open competition among potential contractors by prohibiting “union only” construction contracts, in which a government entity requires the successful bidder or any subcontractor to use exclusively workers who are members of a labor union, was introduced by state Rep. Stephen Bloom, R-Cumberland. The bill would end so-called project labor agreements.

• Contracts offered to residential and small business customers by competitive electric generation suppliers would be regulated under HB 2104, introduced in the House by state Rep. Robert W. Godshall, R-Montgomery. The bill stems from hundreds of constituent complaints from electric customers who signed onto variable plans and saw their rates skyrocket this winter.

Personnel Moves

• Gov. Tom Corbett nominated his former chief of staff, Steve Aichele, to serve as a member of the State Employees’ Retirement System board.

• The Pennsylvania Senate has elected Donetta M. D’Innocenzo as its chief clerk. D’Innocenzo is the first woman to serve as chief clerk and is responsible for all financial functions of the upper house. In addition, the chief clerk acts as the open records officer under the Pennsylvania Right-to-Know Law.

• The Public School Employees’ Retirement System hired James H. Grossman Jr. as its new chief investment officer. Grossman, 47, has served as acting chief investment officer for the system since June 2013.

Table Game Revenue

Table games play at the 12 Pennsylvania casinos rose 3.25 percent to $57.1 million in February, according to a report released by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. Due to a decrease in slot machine revenue of 7.5 percent in February, combined revenue from the play of slot machines and table games during February was $238 million, a decrease of 5 percent from last February.