COUNTIES SHARE INPUT ON EMS
president and Chester County commissioner Kathi Cozzone recently had the
opportunity to discuss ways to modernize emergency medical services (EMS)
before a Senate Democratic Policy Committee hearing in Delaware County.
Cozzone, who is also a member of CCAP's EMS Task Force, joined a panel with
George Crowding, deputy director of Chester County's Department of Emergency
Services and Alpha Fire Company (Centre County) chief Steven Bair to talk
specifically about the intersection of local government and local response.
She shared that in 2019, counties adopted a resolution to study the crisis in
EMS services, make recommendations on legislative and operational solutions
and determine an appropriate role for counties in assuring the provision and
sustainability of this critical service. While the resolution does not call
for counties to take over service provision, it calls for exploring the
supports counties can provide given their ties to other county emergency
management and human services programs.
CCAP's EMS Task Force has been studying these issues for the past year, and
while the final report has not yet been released, Cozzone told the committee
that the starting point was the legislature's SR 6
report, with their work including review of retention and recruitment
issues, reimbursement rates, funding, service coverage and service models,
community risk reduction, technology support and training requirements.
Recommendations to help municipal partners and community providers meet the
pressures on the EMS system will be finalized and presented to the CCAP
membership at its Fall Conference in November.
Cozzone's full testimony is available on CCAP's Legislative
Action Center by clicking on Legislative Testimony.
FINAL FEDERAL OVERTIME RULE RELEASED
On Sept. 24, the U.S.
Department of Labor (DOL) released its final rule to increase the salary
threshold for professional non-exempt employees to receive overtime pay.
Under the rule, the salary threshold for overtime pay will be increased from
$23,660 annually ($455 per week) to $35,568 per year ($684 per week)
beginning Jan. 1, 2020, meaning those who earn between $23,660 and $35,568,
and who meet certain job requirements, will be newly eligible for overtime
In addition to increasing the salary threshold, the final rule will also
permit bonuses and incentive payments to be used to satisfy up to 10% of the
salary level, but would not change the job duties criteria nor institute
automatic updates or increases to the salary threshold. DOL indicated instead
that it would propose updates to the salary threshold every four years
through the rulemaking process.
While the threshold in the final rule is lower than the threshold of $913 per
week that had been proposed by the Obama administration in 2016, in January
2018, Gov. Wolf's administration announced its intent to implement changes to
the state's overtime eligibility rules for employees that would mirror the
proposed federal 2016 rule. The proposed state regulation was open for public
comment in mid-2018 but no action has been taken to move forward since then.
CCAP RELEASES MARIJUANA
On Oct. 4,
the CCAP Marijuana Task Force released its report and recommendations related
to potential impacts associated with any legislative efforts to legalize
The creation of the Task Force in early 2019 was prompted by the Wolf
administration's announcement that Lt. Gov. John Fetterman would be
undertaking a statewide listening tour to gather public input on the
possibility of legalization.
After hearing from a wide variety of stakeholders, including other state
associations of counties, to learn about different approaches to and outcomes
of legalization and commercialization of recreational marijuana, the Task
Force proposed two policy resolutions for consideration by the CCAP
membership, which call for the disconnect between state and federal law to be
resolved before the state makes any further changes to its laws, and opine
that counties must have a seat at the table for any legislative discussions
that may occur. Those resolutions were adopted in August 2018 and provided
guidance for the Task Force to create a report with more specific
The recently released report provides more specific recommendations based on
the broad policy direction of the resolutions, with the flexibility to adapt
to any legislative proposals that may come up. In general, the Task Force
concluded that any effort to decriminalize marijuana must be done statewide
and must apply uniformly in all counties, that counties must be actively
involved in any policy discussions that take place in the legislature, and
that more research is needed to fully understand the long-term impacts on
physical and behavioral health.
The 2019 resolutions can be found on the CCAP website under the Government
Relations tab on the Policy page, and
the report and supporting documents can be found under the Government
Relations tab on the Resources and
LT. GOV RELEASES MARIJUANA LISTENING TOUR REPORT
listening sessions in all 67 counties, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and Gov. Wolf
released the final report
and proposed next steps on legalization of marijuana in late September. The
listening tour prompted counties to create a task force to explore the issue
as well, with their recommendations released on early October (see previous
article in this Bulletin).
The Lt. Gov's report, which summarized more than 44,000 comments from the
tour and online submissions, indicated a majority of attendees in all but a
few counties supported legalization of recreational marijuana. A
county-by-county breakdown of support and opposition is available, as well as
the most common arguments for and against legalization. At the same time, the
Governor and Lt. Governor called on the General Assembly to approve
legislation that would decriminalize non-violent and small marijuana-related
offenses, and to also begin seriously debating and considering the
legalization of recreational marijuana. The report also recommends seeking a
path to restorative justice through the expungement of past convictions of
non-violent and small marijuana-related crimes.
In response to the Lt. Governor's report, Republican leaders in both the
House and Senate made it clear that they have no plans to pursue legalization
of recreational marijuana, citing ongoing concerns related to the state's
opioid epidemic and public safety as well as potential impacts to
Pennsylvania's medical marijuana industry.
GOVERNOR ANNOUNCES EXPEDITED PARDONS FOR MARIJUANA CONVICTIONS
administration plans to have the state Board of Pardons expedite applications
for pardons from those with low-level marijuana convictions, Gov. Wolf
announced on Oct. 3. The plan is consistent with a call to action issued by
the Governor and Lt. Governor following the release of a report on a
statewide listening tour on legalization of recreational marijuana.
State Board of Pardons Secretary Brandon Flood said that offenses eligible
for an expedited review will include possession of a small amount of
marijuana for personal use or with the intent to distribute, as well as
distribution of a small amount (but not for sale). In addition, the
eligibility list includes paraphernalia-related offenses, criminal conspiracy
and other convictions relating to a marijuana-specific conviction the
Secretary deems appropriate for expedited review, as well as felony
convictions for the possession of marijuana. Flood reiterated that the Board
of Pardons must still vote to approve or deny any application it receives
through the expedited process.
DCED HOUSNG ACTION PLAN OPEN FOR COMMENT
state Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) is preparing
the 2020 Housing Action Plan as part of the state's Consolidated Plan for
2019-2023. The plan analyzes the needs of the non-entitlement areas of the
state related to housing, including special needs, community development,
homelessness prevention and economic development. The analysis assists in the
creation of a unified strategy for housing, homelessness and community
development programs, including the necessary linkages for building
successful neighborhoods and communities. The Annual Action Plan is submitted
to the federal Housing and Urban Development agency as the annual application
for federal funds the commonwealth administers, including the Community
Development Block Grant, the HOME Investment Partnership, the Emergency
Solutions Grant, and the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.
DCED encourages public input in the process, and comments about topics
related to the plan can be submitted to RA-DCEDcdbghomequestions@pa.gov
through Nov. 22.
CONTINUING RESOLUTION KEEPS FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OPEN THROUGH
Trump has signed a stopgap spending measure to keep government agencies open
through Nov. 21, largely funding agencies at their current level while giving
lawmakers seven additional weeks to develop full-year federal appropriations
bills for FY2020. The continuing resolution also provides another short-term
extension of the National Flood Insurance Program until the same date.
Although the House has passed most of its FY2020 funding bills, much of that
work was done before overall spending had been agreed upon. The Senate held
off on appropriations work until the Bipartisan Budget Act was signed into
law in late July, which addressed deadlines for the federal debt ceiling and
budgetary spending caps, waiving those caps for two years.