Senator Lloyd Smucker http://www.senatorsmucker.com Pennsylvania's 13th District Tue, 01 Jul 2014 18:58:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.5.1 State Senate Approves Smucker’s Charter School Reform Measure /2014/07/01/state-senate-approves-smuckers-charter-school-reform-measure/ /2014/07/01/state-senate-approves-smuckers-charter-school-reform-measure/#comments Tue, 01 Jul 2014 18:58:20 +0000 admin1 /__extres/web2.pasenategop.com/smucker/?p=3455 Hopes for much-needed reforms to the state charter school law grew brighter with Senate passage of a bill championed by state Senator Lloyd Smucker.

“Charter schools are an increasingly popular education option in many communities.  At the same time, people are realizing that reforms are needed to ensure that the schools are meeting performance standards and operating in an accountable manner.  My purpose through this bill is to strengthen charter schools and secure their future, rather than put them out of business as some are trying to do.  In the end, we are protecting the taxpayer interest and looking after the student interest,” Smucker stated.

“This bill first and foremost applies good government laws to the charter schools – open meetings, open records, ethics standards.  It also opens constructive opportunities for students, such as dual enrollment,” Smucker pointed out.

The bill assigns two important responsibilities to the state Department of Education.  The first is to develop a standard application for charter schools, so it is clear what information prospective students and charter school operators must submit.  The second is to implement a matrix for measuring student performance, so that taxpayers no longer have to sort through the conflicting claims of charter school administrators and critics to determine how well individual schools are doing.

“For years, various efforts to improve the law have been checkmated by sharp disagreements between the two sides.  Through concerted negotiations, we have reached agreement on substantial steps to provide greater accountability in every way, academically, financially, and ethically,” Smucker explained.

Smucker said long-running disagreements over the funding formula applied to charter schools will be resolved in conjunction with basic education funding improvements, rather than within the confines of the charter school law.

The Senate recently approved Smucker’s resolution calling for a study of alternate authorizers of charter schools to be conducted by the Legislative Budget & Finance Committee.

Contact:

Matt Parido
717-397-1309

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Senator Smucker Votes for Tight Spending, No Tax Increase State Budget /2014/06/30/senator-smucker-votes-for-tight-spending-no-tax-increase-state-budget/ /2014/06/30/senator-smucker-votes-for-tight-spending-no-tax-increase-state-budget/#comments Tue, 01 Jul 2014 02:18:41 +0000 admin1 /__extres/web2.pasenategop.com/smucker/?p=3452 State Senator Lloyd Smucker said he voted for a functional, fiscally tight state budget that avoids a crisis while keeping the door open for reform.

“There are three things to be said for this budget – it contains no state tax increases, it holds new spending in line with reasonable expectations on revenues, and it avoids the disruptions in services that occur when there is a budget deadlock.  However, that does not mean our job is finished,” Smucker stated.

“In the absence of reforms to the pension structure and other cost drivers, it is impossible to justify much in the way of spending increases.  The expected revenues just will not support a big spending increase.  We managed some improvements on the spending side in critical program areas, in education, human services, and public safety,” he pointed out.

Reflecting the revenue shortfalls of recent months, the budget approved by the Senate spends several hundred million dollars less than what Governor Corbett recommended in February.

“The overall spending level is based on the best analysis we have seen of economic growth and revenue yield over the next twelve months.  How those numbers turn out, and not any political judgment of the moment, will determine how well this budget ends up serving Pennsylvania’s needs,” Smucker said.

“A lot of different scenarios have been suggested and looked at in recent weeks.  There is simply not a set of happy choices available to us.  The votes are not yet there for structural changes to programs or taxes.  In a way, this budget buys time.  It is possible that public pressure might force action on reform before the end of this legislative session,” he noted.

What the federal government decides in respect to the waiver request on Medicaid could affect the situation significantly.  “If we get the authority to revamp Medicaid services, it could save money and bring in federal dollars to extend coverage to more people.  So there still are possibilities for making the budget situation better,” Smucker explained.

“As we came up against the constitutional deadline for approving a state budget, alternative budget plans lacked the required support in the House and Senate and the governor’s willingness to sign them.  It is very easy to draw up a more popular budget.  The difficulty comes in lining up the votes for it,” he concluded.

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Smucker Introduces Bill to Study Alternative Charter School Authorizers /2014/06/26/smucker-introduces-bill-to-study-alternative-charter-school-authorizers/ /2014/06/26/smucker-introduces-bill-to-study-alternative-charter-school-authorizers/#comments Thu, 26 Jun 2014 14:55:28 +0000 admin2 /__extres/web2.pasenategop.com/smucker/?p=3447 Senator Lloyd Smucker (R-13) is introducing a resolution directing the Legislative Budget & Finance Committee, a highly regarded analytical agency, to study the issue of alternative authorizers and produce a report by the end of November.

“I am hoping this study will establish a factual foundation upon which we can build informed and thoughtful conclusions in the debate over charter schools.  The search for perspective is wide open.  The committee is charged with seeking input from all interested parties, whether those views are positive, negative, or neutral, and reviewing the experience in other states.  They are to take into account the key concerns – performance, accountability, finances, and impact on school districts,” Smucker stated.

According to the resolution, LBFC will study a variety of alternative authorizers including higher education authorizers, statewide authorizers and multiple charter organizations.

“One of the chief criticisms coming from the school community is that higher education institutions do not have a financial stake in the matter.  That is not entirely true.  Colleges and universities are spending a great deal of money on remedial work for Pennsylvania high school graduates.  And with many schools seeing a drop in enrollment, the competition to attract qualified students is increasing,” Smucker pointed out.

Smucker noted that Pennsylvania was in the forefront in adopting a charter school law, so it is not surprising that experience has revealed some flaws in the law.  “In the places where charter schools are operating, it is widely conceded that accountability measures must be put in place and that the funding formula needs to be fixed.  We also know that some areas are underserved, not because of a lack of parental and community interest, but because the school boards have made it nearly impossible for applicants to gain approval.”

Contact:

Matt Parido
(717) 397-1309

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Bill to Expand Open Records Law for State-Related Universities Approved by Senate State Government Committee /2014/06/18/bill-to-expand-open-records-law-for-state-related-universities-approved-by-senate-state-government-committee/ /2014/06/18/bill-to-expand-open-records-law-for-state-related-universities-approved-by-senate-state-government-committee/#comments Wed, 18 Jun 2014 16:20:46 +0000 admin1 /__extres/web2.pasenategop.com/smucker/2014/06/18/bill-to-expand-open-records-law-for-state-related-universities-approved-by-senate-state-government-committee/ HARRISBURG – Legislation to dramatically expand how Pennsylvania’s Open Records Law applies to the four state-related universities – Pennsylvania State University, Temple University, the University of Pittsburgh and Lincoln University – was unanimously approved today by the Senate State Government Committee.

As amended by the State Government Committee, Senate Bill 444 will require Penn State, Temple, Pitt and Lincoln to create searchable, sortable and downloadable databases on their freely accessible public websites. The databases will include extensive budget, revenue and expenditure data; the number of employees and aggregated, non-personal employee data; and the number of students and aggregated, non-personal student data.

State-related universities will also be required to post information about contracts valued at $5,000 or more on Pennsylvania’s online contract database, and most of the universities will be required to report the top 200 employee salaries. State-related universities with fewer than 2,500 employees will continue to report the top 25 salaries, as required by the existing law.

“For the first time, the public will have easy online access to detailed budget and academic data for Penn State, Temple, Pitt and Lincoln,” said Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-9), author of Pennsylvania’s Open Records Law and the prime sponsor of Senate Bill 444. “Given the level of public support that goes to these universities every year, it makes perfect sense to take this important step.”

“This bill will be another big win for taxpayers,” said Senate State Government Committee Chairman Lloyd Smucker (R-13). “In recent years, citizens have seen too much of the serious ethical problems and the scandals that secrecy is conducive to. In contrast, the Open Records Law has improved accountability and given the public a much better look at what their government is doing. That’s the sort of transparency we want to build on.”

“Under this amended Senate Bill 444, our state-related universities will be held accountable for every state dollar the institutions receive,” said Senator John Blake (D-22), who has been a strong advocate for expanding the law’s coverage of state-related universities. “This necessary improvement in the Open Records Law dramatically increases the amount of information subject to public scrutiny and enhances the ease with which citizens can obtain that information. I was glad to work with Senator Dominic Pileggi in achieving these important reforms.”

“This is an important step in providing greater transparency and accountability in how significant public funds are being spent,” said Senator Matt Smith (D-37), the Democratic Chairman of the State Government Committee. “This was a collaborative bipartisan effort to ensure that state tax dollars are best serving students of the commonwealth.”

The underlying bill includes additional improvements to the existing Open Records Law, such as ensuring that campus police departments are covered by the law just as local police departments are, clarifying that safety inspection reports are public, establishing a new fee structure for commercial requests, and creating a new section to address records requests made by inmates.

A separate amendment adopted today by the State Government Committee clarifies the news media’s exemption from the commercial request provisions, ensures that the Office of Open Records – even as a fully independent agency – will receive appropriate payroll and administrative support, and makes a number of smaller changes.

Senator Pileggi said he intends to continue work on the legislation through the summer. “Pennsylvania’s new Open Records Law is widely recognized as one of the best in the nation,” he said. “This bill makes a number of important and necessary changes, and it’s important to get them right.”

CONTACTS:

Erik Arneson (Senator Pileggi), earneson@pasen.gov, 717-787-4712

Matt Parido (Senator Smucker), mparido@pasen.gov, 717-787-6535

Luc Miron (Senator Blake), lmiron@pasenate.com, 717-787-6481

Lauren Fraley (Senator Smith), lfraley@pasenate.com, 717-787-5839 (cell 724-747-0692)

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Senate Bills 369, 1240 and House Bill 1989 /2014/06/09/senate-bills-369-1240-and-house-bill-1989/ /2014/06/09/senate-bills-369-1240-and-house-bill-1989/#comments Mon, 09 Jun 2014 20:12:20 +0000 admin2 /__extres/web2.pasenategop.com/smucker/2014/06/09/senate-bills-369-1240-and-house-bill-1989/ Senate State Government Committee

Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Room 8 E-B
12:30 pm

AGENDA

 

Senate Bill 369
Senator Folmer

Senate Bill 1240
Senator Yudichak

House Bill 1989
Representative Hanna

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Senate Bills 324 and 602 and House Bills 1234 and 1602 /2014/06/02/senate-bills-324-and-602-and-house-bills-1234-and-1602/ /2014/06/02/senate-bills-324-and-602-and-house-bills-1234-and-1602/#comments Mon, 02 Jun 2014 19:32:54 +0000 admin2 /__extres/web2.pasenategop.com/smucker/2014/06/02/senate-bills-324-and-602-and-house-bills-1234-and-1602/ Senate State Government Committee

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Room 8 E-B
12
:30 pm

 


Senate Bill 324 (Senator Vogel)

Senate Bill 602 (Senator Wozniak)
House Bill 1234 (Representative Smith)
House Bill 1602 (Representative Corbin)

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Senate State Government Committee to Consider Proposals to Reduce Size of Legislature /2014/05/29/senate-state-government-committee-to-consider-proposals-to-reduce-size-of-legislature/ /2014/05/29/senate-state-government-committee-to-consider-proposals-to-reduce-size-of-legislature/#comments Thu, 29 May 2014 15:39:30 +0000 admin2 /__extres/web2.pasenategop.com/smucker/2014/05/29/senate-state-government-committee-to-consider-proposals-to-reduce-size-of-legislature/ HARRISBURG — While recent attention has been focused on the growing possibility of a broad gift ban being enacted, another long-argued reform measure is gaining new legislative life.

State Senator Lloyd Smucker (R-13), chair of the Senate State Government Committee, said it is time to conclude a decades-long debate over reducing the size of the General Assembly and give voters a chance to decide the issue.

“Many people I hear from want to see more aggressive steps taken to cut costs and to improve legislative efficiency. For years, reform groups have contended that cutting the size of the legislature is a direct way of accomplishing both goals. In my judgment, we should give the people their deciding say in the matter,” Smucker said.

The committee will consider an amendment to Senate Bill 324 that would reduce the number of state Senators from 50 to 45. The committee will also weigh in on House Bill 1234, legislation approved by the House to trim the number of districts in the House of Representatives from 203 to 153.

Both proposals would require an amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution, which gives voters an opportunity to decide the issue at the polls via a referendum.

“The House of Representatives gave this issue a good start by assembling a reasonable bill, debating it at length, and approving it. We should not let this chance for historic change slip away,” Smucker said. “There is sufficient time left in this legislative session to do this, there certainly is wide public support for it, and there seems to be the legislative will to move forward.”

The state Constitution requires that proposed amendments be advertised 90 days before the General Election. That makes early August the deadline for action by the General Assembly to give first-round approval during the 2013-2014 legislative session. The committee will meet June 3rd at 12:30 p.m. in Room 8-EB.

Contact:

Matt Parido
(717) 397-1309

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State Senate State Government Chairs Call for Mutchler Re-Appointment /2014/05/06/state-senate-state-government-chairs-call-for-mutchler-re-appointment/ /2014/05/06/state-senate-state-government-chairs-call-for-mutchler-re-appointment/#comments Tue, 06 May 2014 13:40:05 +0000 admin1 /__extres/web2.pasenategop.com/smucker/2014/05/06/state-senate-state-government-chairs-call-for-mutchler-re-appointment/ HARRISBURG, May 2, 2014 – - Senate State Government Committee Chairs Senators Lloyd Smucker (R-Lancaster) and Matt Smith (D-Allegheny/Washington) today sent a joint letter to Governor Tom Corbett urging him to re-appoint Terry Mutchler to a second six-year term as executive director of the Office of Open Records.

Mutchler’s term officially expired on April 24, yet she continues to serve until she is either officially re-appointed or the governor appoints a successor.

“We add our voices to the growing chorus of bipartisan support for Terry’s immediate re-appointment,” Smith said. “Her efforts have lead directly to a more open and transparent government in Pennsylvania.”

The chairmen stated that Mutchler was instrumental in shepherding a fundamental shift in the public’s right to information, “a presumption of openness” as stated on the office’s website.

“With reform efforts and changes to Pennsylvania’s Right to Know law underway in the Senate, we feel that continuation of Terry’s leadership is in the best interest of taxpayers,” Smucker said.

Since 2009, the Office of Open Records has handled over 10,000 appeals, argued many cases before state appellate courts, responded to tens of thousands of emails and phone calls from citizens, and conducted over 1,500 trainings for open records officers, government officials and attorneys.


 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Following is the text of a letter from Sens. Matt Smith and Lloyd Smucker to Gov. Tom Corbett delivered May 2.

Via Hand Delivery

Honorable Thomas Corbett
Governor of Pennsylvania
225 Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg, PA 17121

Dear Governor Corbett:

As the Chairmen of the Senate State Government Committee, we write to respectfully urge the re-appointment of Terry Mutchler to a second six-year term as Executive Director of the State Office of Open Records.

By every measure, Pennsylvania’s open records law has greatly increased public access to state and local government and thus improved the accountability of elected and appointed officials.

That result is attributable to a well-written law and a well-run Office of Open Records.  The choice to establish and direct that office, Terry Mutchler, has proved an inspired pick.  Her training and experience qualified her for the position; her performance has justified her selection.  She has demonstrated integrity, credibility, and respect for the letter and spirit of the law.  There is tremendous responsibility vested in the office, and she has handled it with discretion and good judgment.  While the media focus is usually on the determinations on records requests the office renders, efforts to make the law and process user-friendly for citizens are equally noteworthy.

Based on her commendable record, she has earned widespread support.  We strongly urge her re-appointment.  As you know, Director Mutchler’s term officially expired on April 24, 2014, but she will continue to serve until she is officially re-appointed or a successor is appointed.  There is nothing of which we are aware that warrants her replacement.

Her office is a part of state government that consistently maintains a firm hold on public trust and confidence.  Continuity in quality leadership should be an extremely important consideration during a time when public interest results and accountability are priority matters for taxpayers.

Thank you for your attention to this perspective.  Please feel free to contact us with any questions.

Sincerely,

Lloyd Smucker
Majority Chair
Senate State Government Committee

Matt Smith
Minority Chair|
Senate State Government Committee

cc:   Sen. Dominic Pileggi, Majority Leader
Sen. Jay Costa, Minority Leader

Contacts:

STATE SEN. LLOYD SMUCKER (R-13)
CONTACT: Matt Parido
PHONE: 717-397-1309
mparido@pasen.gov

STATE SEN. MATT SMITH (D-37)
CONTACT: Lauren Fraley
PHONE: 412-571-2169
MOBILE: 724-747-0692
lfraley@pasenate.com

 

 

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Senate Bill 1070 /2014/05/05/senate-bill-1070/ /2014/05/05/senate-bill-1070/#comments Mon, 05 May 2014 16:47:25 +0000 admin2 /__extres/web2.pasenategop.com/smucker/2014/05/05/senate-bill-1070/
Senate State Government Committee - May 7, 2014
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Public Hearing on Senate Bill 1070

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Hearing Room 1, North Office Building
9:30 pm

Listen

 AGENDA


9:30 a.m.

Welcome
Senator Lloyd K. Smucker, Chairman

9:35-10:15

Panel 1

Andrew Masich, President and Chief Ex. Officer
Senator John Heinz History Center and Chair of PA Historical and Museum Commission

Dennis Wint, President and CEO-Franklin Institute

Tom Ryan, President and CEO-Lancaster History

Charles Croce, Executive Director and CEO
Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent

10:15-11:00

Panel 2

Rusty Baker, Executive Director-PA Museums

Richard Burkert, Executive Director-Johnstown Area Heritage Assoc.

Jane Werner, Executive Director-Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh

Joe Garrera, Executive Director-Lehigh Valley Heritage Museum

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Senate Bills 1001 and 1253 and House Bills 1271, 1672, 1873, 1945 /2014/05/01/senate-bills-1001-and-1253-and-house-bills-1271-1672-1873-1945/ /2014/05/01/senate-bills-1001-and-1253-and-house-bills-1271-1672-1873-1945/#comments Thu, 01 May 2014 15:36:03 +0000 admin1 /__extres/web2.pasenategop.com/smucker/2014/05/01/senate-bills-1001-and-1253-and-house-bills-1271-1672-1873-1945/ Committee Meeting

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Room 8 E-B
12:30 pm

 AGENDA


Senate Bill 1001 – Senator Folmer

 Senate Bill 1253 – Senator Robbins

 House Bill 201    – Representative Dunbar

House Bill 1271  – Representative Readshaw

House Bill 1672  – Representative R. Miller

House Bill 1873  – Representative Benninghoff

House Bill 1945  – Representative Helm

 Amendment

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