Both the House and Senate wrapped up their final voting day of the 2017-18 legislative session on October 17, 2018. Fortunately, detrimental legislation directly impacting authorities did not pass and will die at the close of session the end of November. Below is a summary and update on each bill.
HB 104: PMAA Opposed
HB 104 (Godshall) amends the Municipality Authorities Act by requiring authorities, prior to the authority acquiring another public water or sewer system or selling the authority, to hold an advertised public meeting to discuss the details and anticipated or projected public benefits and retain written minutes. In addition, the Senate added language requiring an audit by the Auditor General, directed solely at one particular authority. PMAA opposed the bill and once the bill returned to the House for a concurrence vote, the audit language was removed (vote Y: 181/N: 0) and the bill was sent back to the Senate, at which time, no action could be taken and the bill died.
Link to HB 104
HB 1034: PMAA Supported
HB 1034 (Mako) also amends the Municipality Authorities Act. It establishes financial best practices by requiring money due to the authority be deposited in an account with a designated depository and shall be remitted in the name of the authority or designated recipient and shall not include the name of an individual including the treasurer of the authority. It also outlines broad procedures for the collection and handling of money allowing authorities flexibility in setting their own specific policies and procedures. Unfortunately, this bill did not reach final passage.
Link to HB 1034
SB 597: PMAA Opposed
Reintroduced from last session, SB 597 (Stefano) authorized the Auditor General to conduct audits of municipal authorities. PMAA opposed this bill and it was tabled in the Senate.
Link to SB 597
HB 798: PMAA Opposed
Reintroduced from last session, HB 798 (Davis) amended the Public Utility Code by placing water and sewer authorities under the jurisdiction of the Public Utility Commission. PMAA testified opposing the bill which did not move out of the House.
Bills that reached final passage:
HB 2075: PMAA Opposed
PMAA opposed HB 2075 (P.N. 4071) (Charlton). PMAA supports replacement of lead laterals and worked on language passed in the 2017 Fiscal Code (Act 44) allowing authorities to replace lead water laterals using public funds. We also support the York Water Co. agreement with the PUC for their replacement of customer-owned lead water laterals with the actual replacement cost charged to the customer. However, we opposed provisions in HB 2075 that would allow investor-owned private water companies to make a profit on their replacement of customer owned lead laterals.
Remediating a public health risk should not be a profit center for utility shareholders at the expense of all other customers as proposed in HB 2075. The bill reached final passage in the House (vote Y: 177/N: 10) and Senate (vote Y:48/N:1) and signed by the governor (Act 120).
Link to HB 2075
SB 1078 (Tomlinson) amended the open meetings requirements in the Sunshine Act to allow an additional use of executive sessions, where deemed necessary for emergency preparedness, public safety, or security of property. The bill passed unanimously in both chambers and approved by the governor (Act 156).
Link to SB 1078
HB 1346 (Pyle) amended Titles 18 (Crimes and Offenses) and 53 (Municipalities Generally), defining the offense of unlawful use of unmanned aircraft (drones) and prohibiting local regulation of unmanned drones. It exempts individuals who are engaged in the performance of their official duties including utility, municipality (authority is included in the definition of municipality), or governmental agency employees. The bill passed unanimously in both chambers and was approved by the governor (Act 78).
Link to HB 1346
HB 544 (Moul) amended Act 586 of 1965 (Recreational Use of Land and Water Act) protecting landowners from liability if they open their land free of charge to recreational users. The bill expands and clarifies liability protections of landowners to recreational users, persons or property, acts of omission by landowners, and acts of omission by recreational users. It also mandates courts to award attorney fees and direct legal costs to a landowner, lessee, manager, easement holder or an occupant who is found not to be liable for an injury to a person or property pursuant to the law. The bill passed unanimously in both chambers and was approved by the governor (Act 98).
Link to HB 544