Pennsylvania beer distributors may have been the big winner Wednesday night as the General Assembly largely closed out its 2015-16 legislative session with a flurry of votes.
Here is a recap of where some other legislative issues ended up by the end of the night, as the Senate adjourned until after the election and the House announced plans to come back this morning.
- Public-sector pension reform: It did not get done. House Republican leaders could not whip up enough votes on Wednesday night. A plan had emerged out of a conference committee this week with three pension plan options for new school employees and most new state workers to choose from beginning in 2018. Two were hybrid models that blended current defined-benefit plans with new defined-contribution options, similar to a private-sector 401(k) plan, while the third was a straight defined-contribution plan. The House and Senate needed to take action on the bill. With no resolution on Senate Bil 1071, pension reform will carry over to a new legislative session in 2017. Pension reform has been a priority for many business leaders and Republican lawmakers. The two state pension systems have more than $60 billion in unfunded liabilities. See the full pension reform proposal here.
- Local casino revenue: It did not get done. A short-term legislative fix proposed through House Bill 1887 would have given lawmakers six months to fix a provision in the state law governing taxation of casinos, while allowing slot revenue to continue flowing into local communities that host casinos. But the bill did not get through the House. So now more than $140 million statewide is at risk of going away, unless lawmakers return in early January to fix the issue. In Dauphin County, more than $6 million is doled out annually in the form of local gaming grants.
- Fight in the recorder of deeds office: Senate Bill 1282, a bill to end the so-called practice of per-parcel index fees charged by the recorder of deeds in roughly one-third of Pennsylvania counties, cleared the General Assembly. Critics have said the practice leads to excessive costs for homeowner associations and similar groups, while supporters say the practice ensures fairness for all homeowners. In counties such as Montgomery County, where this practice began in 2011, short amendments filed by condominium, cooperative and homeowner associations are being assessed recording fees that can run into thousands of dollars. The costs ultimately impact annual association dues paid by homeowners.