This Week in the PA Legislature

The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO keeps track of worker-related legislation in Harrisburg. In the fight for workers’ rights, we know that our elected public officials have the power to make and break the rules that rig the system against working people, in favor of corporations and the 1%. We fight to expand access to workplace-policies that expand access to opportunity and level the playing field for workers. Check out what happened this week:

Education

A voucher scheme (HB 800) diverting state tax dollars from our public schools to give vouchers to children attending private and parochial schools passed the House 111 to 85 with all Republicans voting for it, plus four Democrats.

Election of State Judges

Pennsylvania’s current law requires judges of the state’s three highest appeals courts to run statewide campaigns for election. HB 196 would require, instead, judicial districts being drawn by an Independent Commission and such judicial districts electing their own judges. The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO opposes HB 196 on grounds that it would negatively affect all citizens of the Commonwealth including our members.

Privatization

On May 7, the House Liquor Control Committee favorably reported HB 1346. This bill would privatize a portion of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) to allow for licensees to buy wine from out-of-State distributors. Current law states they must buy from the members of UFCW 1776 KS at the PLCB. That loss of sale will dramatically reduce revenue the PLCB generates, leading to further privatization and the eventual elimination of nearly 5,000 family sustaining jobs.

Pensions

The House Insurance Committee will be voting this Monday, May 13, on a bill (HB 1283) the declared intent of which is to put protections into state law for pension plans that have been shifted out of the protection of Federal Law and into a Group Annuity. This so called “de-risking” process, as it is referred to by proponents, puts at risk the very workers who have invested in their pensions their entire working lives.

Workers Compensation

On May 6, the House Labor and Industry Committee held a hearing on House Bill 1234. HB 1234 seeks to eliminate a relatively recent court-created right to tort actions for victims not diagnosed with occupational diseases until after the deadline for filing workers’ compensation claims has passed.  The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO testified in favor of this court-created right and in opposition to HB 1234 as presently written on account of a gap in protection it creates among other problems.

USCMA 

On May 15, the House Commerce Committee is having a vote on resolution 248, which urges Congress to support the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement.  The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO is sending a letter to the committee explaining the national AFL-CIO’s objections to USCMA.

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