Outgoing Democratic House Leaders announced a voting session on Monday, November 15 just a few days after they announced no voting days would be scheduled during the lame duck session. The lame duck session stretches from the day after the November 2 election to November 30, the official end of the 2009-10 legislative session.
The original announcement that the House would schedule no voting days drew protests from rank-and-file Democratic and Republican members, who argued that a batch of bills sent to them by the Senate needed the House’s approval to reach Governor Rendell’s desk. Otherwise, the bills die with the end of session and will have to be introduced and debated again next session. The decision to hold a voting day after all came from Speaker Keith McCall, D-Carbon, who did not run for re-election, and Majority Leader Todd Eachus, D- Luzerne, defeated in his reelection bid.
The rank-and-file members also argued that most of the bills are non-controversial. One bill, however, that reforms the state pension system likely faces a long debate. The Senate added a provision to the bill that creates an independent fiscal office within state government. House Democratic Leadership has said the provision is not germane to the legislation, and is, therefore, unconstitutional.
Other bills likely to be voted on include the following:
H.B. 1231 would include cancer suffered by firefighters as a result of their jobs as an occupational disease, qualifying first responders for workers' compensation benefits;
H.B. 174 would modernize the state's food safety law;
H.B. 2139 would encourage farmers and food processors to donate excess products to food banks;
H.B. 1639 would ensure both parents are treated equally when deciding child custody;
H.B. 1394 would allow property in the Clean and Green program to be leased for wind power without rollback property taxes being applied to the entire tract. Rollback taxes would only apply to the land used for the wind power system and related structures, such as power transmission lines. It also would permit use of alternative energy systems, such as solar power, on land in the Clean and Green program without impacting preferred tax assessments if more than half the power is used on site;
H.B. 60 would create an affordable housing trust fund that would enable the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency to build, rehabilitate and preserve housing for low-to-moderate income people, the elderly and people with disabilities; and
H.B. 708 would create a statewide electronic waste recycling program.