A blog of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section

capitol

Session schedule

Senate

Budget Hearings: Feb. 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, March 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 (no session during hearings)

March 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23

April 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13

May 9, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18

June 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30

House

Budget Hearings: Feb. 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, March 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 (no session during hearings)

March 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23

April 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13

May 2, 3, 4, 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, 25

June 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30

On the Governor’s desk

Senate Bill 166 (Greenleaf-R-Montgomery) started as an expungement bill.  In its latest version it provides for limited access to non criminal justice agencies where a conviction was for a misdemeanor of the second degree or lesser offense, and the individual has been arrest-fee for 10 years after the conclusion of his sentence.  This description sets out the general, but not specific terms.  The bill is complicated and you are urged to read it.  Click for text of final version.

Bills moving

House

Impeach Kane: House Resolution 659 (Everett-R-Lycoming) authorizing the impeachment of indicted Attorney General Kathleen Kane was adopted by the House 170 to 12 after just a few minutes of discussion.

Merit Selection Of Judges: House Bill 1336 (Cutler-R- Lancaster) providing for merit selection of judges; supplemental funding bills was Tabled.

DNA Testing: Senate Bill 683 (Pileggi-R- Delaware) use of DNA data and testing and use (sponsor summary) was referred to the House Appropriations Committee.

Senate

Wiretapping: Senate Bill 976 (Greenleaf-R-Montgomery) further providing for definitions and exemptions related to wiretapping and electronic surveillance related to police officer body cameras (sponsor summary) was Tabled.

Public hearings

February 23– Senate Appropriations Committee Budget Hearings: 10 a.m.- Judiciary. Hearing Room 1, North Office Building.

February 23– House Appropriations Committee Budget Hearing:  1 p.m.- Judiciary. Room 140 Main Capitol.

February 24– Senate Appropriations Committee Budget Hearings:  1 p.m.- State Police/Homeland Security; 3 p.m.- Dept. of Drug & Alcohol Programs. Hearing Room 1, North Office Building.

February 29– Senate Appropriations Committee Budget Hearings: 10 a.m.- Dept. of Corrections/Board of Probation & Parole. Hearing Room 1, North Office Building.

February 29– House Appropriations Committee Budget Hearing:  3:30 p.m.- Attorney General. Room 140 Main Capitol.

March 1–  Change. House Appropriations Committee Budget Hearing: 1 p.m.- State Police/Homeland Security; 3:00– Dept. of Transportation. Room 140 Main Capitol.

March 3– House Appropriations Committee Budget Hearing: 9:30 a.m.- Dept. of Corrections/Board of Probation & Parole. Room 140 Main Capitol.

March 8– House Appropriations Committee Budget Hearing: 9:30 a.m.- Dept. of Health, Dept. of Drug & Alcohol Programs. Room 140 Main Capitol.

Sentencing Commission meets March 2-3                                                                     Commission on Sentencing. Harrisburg Hilton (dinner). PA Judicial Center, 601 Commonwealth Ave., Harrisburg (business). (formal notice)

(Source:  Crisci Associates PA Capitol Digest)

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HAPPY PRESIDENT’S DAY

 

 

 

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Judicial Assignments

Click for Order

Click for Order

Peter Rosalsky appointed to Criminal Procedure Rules Committee

Click for Order

(Source for items below Crisci Associates PA Capitol Digest)

 

Criminal records bill on Governor’s desk

Senate Bill 166 (Greenleaf-R-Montgomery) started as an expungement bill.  In its latest version it provides for limited access to non criminal justice agencies where a conviction was for a misdemeanor of the second degree or lesser offense, and the individual has been arrest-fee for 10 years after the conclusion of his sentence.  This description sets out the general, but not specific terms.  The bill is complicated and you are urged to read it.  Click for text of final version.

Session Schedule

Senate

February 8, 9, 10

Budget Hearings: Feb. 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, March 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 (no session during hearings)

March 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23

April 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13

May 9, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18

June 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30

House

February 8, 9, 10

March 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23

April 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13

May 2, 3, 4, 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, 25

June 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30

The weeks ahead

 

February 9– Gov. Wolf’s Second Budget Address. 11:30.  Click Here to watch live.  [Also Fastnacht Day, a.k.a. Fat Tuesday]

February 23– Senate Appropriations Committee Budget Hearings: 10 a.m.- Judiciary. Hearing Room 1, North Office Building.

February 23– House Appropriations Committee Budget Hearing:  1 p.m.- Judiciary. Room 140 Main Capitol.

February 24– Senate Appropriations Committee Budget Hearings: 3 p.m.- Dept. of Drug & Alcohol Programs. Hearing Room 1, North Office Building.

February 29– Senate Appropriations Committee Budget Hearings: 10 a.m.- Dept. of Corrections/Board of Probation & Parole. Hearing Room 1, North Office Building.

February 29– House Appropriations Committee Budget Hearing:  3:30 p.m.- Attorney General. Room 140 Main Capitol.

March 1–  House Appropriations Committee Budget Hearing: 1 p.m.- State Police/Homeland Security; 3 p.m.- Dept. of Health/Dept. of Drug & Alcohol Programs. Room 140 Main Capitol.

March 7– Senate Appropriations Committee Budget Hearings: 10:00- Dept. of Human Services; 1:00- Dept. of Revenue/Lottery; 3:00- Dept. of Military & Veterans Affairs. Hearing Room 1, North Office Building.

March 8– House Appropriations Committee Budget Hearing: 9:30 a.m.- Dept. of Health, Dept. of Drug & Alcohol Programs. Room 140 Main Capitol.

 

 

 

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Criminal records bill on Governor’s desk

Senate Bill 166 (Greenleaf-R-Montgomery) started as an expungement bill.  In its latest version it provides for limited access to non criminal justice agencies where a conviction was for a misdemeanor of the second degree or lesser offense, and the individual has been arrest-fee for 10 years after the conclusion of his sentence.  This description sets out the general, but not specific terms.  The bill is complicated and you are urged to read it.  Click for text of final version.

House Judiciary Committee approves DNA data/testing bill

Senate Bill 683 (Pileggi-R- Delaware) use of DNA data and testing and use (sponsor summary) was amended and reported from the House Judiciary Committee and is now on the House Calendar for action.

Session schedule

Senate

February 8, 9, 10

Budget Hearings: Feb. 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, March 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 (no session during hearings)

March 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23

April 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13

May 9, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18

June 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30

House

February 8, 9, 10

March 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23

April 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13

May 2, 3, 4, 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, 25

June 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30

Upcoming public hearings and events

February 9– Gov. Wolf’s Second Budget Address. [Also Fastnacht Day, a.k.a. Fat Tuesday]

February 23– Senate Appropriations Committee Budget Hearings: 10 a.m.- Judiciary. Hearing Room 1, North Office Building.

February 24– Senate Appropriations Committee 1 p.m.- State Police/Homeland Security; 3 p.m.- Dept. of Drug & Alcohol Programs. Hearing Room 1, North Office Building.

February 24– House Appropriations Committee Budget Hearing: 9:30- Gaming Control Board; 11:00- Dept. of Aging; 1:00- Public Utility Commission; 3:00- PUC Consumer Advocate and Small Business Advocate. Room 140 Main Capitol.

February 25– Senate Appropriations Committee Budget Hearings:  3 p.m.- Attorney General. Hearing Room 1, North Office Building.

February 25– House Appropriations Committee Budget Hearing: 9:30- Liquor Control Board; 1:00- PA Higher Education Assistance Agency; 2:00- Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology. Room 140 Main Capitol.

February 29– Senate Appropriations Committee Budget Hearings: 10 a.m.- Dept. of Corrections/Board of Probation & Parole. Hearing Room 1, North Office Building.

February 29– House Appropriations Committee Budget Hearing: 3:30 p.m.- Attorney General. Room 140 Main Capitol.

March 1– Senate Appropriations Committee Budget Hearings: 10:00- Dept. of General Services; 1:00- Dept. of Labor & Industry; 3:00- Dept. of Agriculture. Hearing Room 1, North Office Building.

March 1– House Appropriations Committee Budget Hearing:  1 p.m.- State Police/Homeland Security; 3:00- Dept. of Health/Dept. of Drug & Alcohol Programs. Room 140 Main Capitol.

March 3– House Appropriations Committee Budget Hearing: 9:30 a.m.- Dept. of Corrections/Board of Probation & Parole. Room 140 Main Capitol.

(Source for above items:  Crisci Associates PA Capitol Digest)

New leadership for First Judicial District

The Supreme Court has appointed the Honorable Sheila Woods-Skipper as chair of the Administrative Governing Board.  The Supreme Court has appointed the Honorable Jacqueline Allen as Administrative Judge for the Trial Division of the Court of Common Pleas.  There will be no liaison Supreme Court Justice to the First Judicial District.

Click for Order concerning Administrative Governing Board

Click for Order concerning liaison Justice

Click for Order concerning Judge Woods-Skipper

Click for Order concerning Judge Allen

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Senator Leach announced proposal to eliminate felony murder

Click to report from Fox 43.com

March 1 deadline to comment on proposed new Juvenile Rules concerning Child Protective Services Law

Click for text of proposed rules

Click for Report

Session Schedule

Senate

January 25, 26, 27

February 8, 9, 10

Budget Hearings: Feb. 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, March 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 (no session during hearings)

March 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23

April 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13

May 9, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18

June 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30

House

January 25, 26, 27

February 8, 9, 10

March 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23

April 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13

May 2, 3, 4, 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, 25

June 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30

(Source:  Crisci Associates PA Capitol Digest)

Upcoming events

 

January 26– House Judiciary Committee meets to consider Senate Bill 683 (Pileggi-R- Delaware) use of DNA data and testing and use (sponsor summary).  Room 205 Ryan Building. 10 a.m.

 

 

February 9– Gov. Wolf’s Second Budget Address. [Also Fastnacht Day, a.k.a. Fat Tuesday]

 

February 23– Senate Appropriations Committee Budget Hearings: 10 a.m.- Judiciary. Hearing Room 1, North Office Building.

February 24– Senate Appropriations Committee Budget Hearings: 1 p.m.- State Police/Homeland Security; 3 p.m.- Dept. of Drug & Alcohol Programs. Hearing Room 1, North Office Building.

February 25– Senate Appropriations Committee Budget Hearings: 3 p.m.- Attorney General. Hearing Room 1, North Office Building.

February 29– Senate Appropriations Committee Budget Hearings: 10 a.m.- Dept. of Corrections/Board of Probation & Parole. Hearing Room 1, North Office Building.

February 29– House Appropriations Committee Budget Hearing: 3:30 p.m.- Attorney General. Room 140 Main Capitol.

March 1– House Appropriations Committee Budget Hearing: 1 p.m.- State Police/Homeland Security; 3 p..m.- Dept. of Health/Dept. of Drug & Alcohol Programs. Room 140 Main Capitol.

 

March 3– House Appropriations Committee Budget Hearing: 9:30 a.m.- Dept. of Corrections/Board of Probation & Parole. Room 140 Main Capitol.

(Source:  Crisci Associates PA Capitol Digest)

State Prison population drops 1.6 per cent in 2015

Gov. Tom Wolf and Corrections Secretary John Wetzel Tuesday announced Pennsylvania’s state inmate population decreased by nearly 850 inmates in 2015, which represents the greatest one-year decline in population over the last 40 years.

The announcement is the capstone to a year of accomplishment for the system under Governor Wolf’s leadership. DOC has made smart population and recidivism reduction as well as creating efficiencies to save taxpayer dollars even greater priorities.

“With fewer people coming into the system, fewer people returning to the system, and a continued level of smart and fair parole releases, our population is declining and we continue to move in the right direction,” Gov. Wolf said. “I applaud Secretary Wetzel for his leadership in all he is doing to make our system more effective, efficient and fair.

“It costs about $41,000 to incarcerate an offender per year in the state prison system. We need to make sure that we are spending these taxpayer dollars on those offenders who require that level of incarceration and not wasting money that could be used for education or job creation, which will both ultimately keep more people out of prison.”

Corrections Secretary John Wetzel credited Gov. Tom Wolf and his administration for these changes. The year-end inmate population figures show a decrease of 842 inmates during calendar year 2015, which coupled with last year’s decrease, is proof that our prison reform movement is advancing in a positive direction, Wetzel said. DOC also reports that its population has decreased by a total of 1,598 offenders over the past two years.

“This year, the DOC worked with the governor’s office to set a population reduction target of 250 inmates,” Wetzel said. “We have far exceeded that target and are expecting reductions of equal or greater amounts in future years.”

“Work in this area serves offenders better, and it also continues to reduce the state’s population and ultimately reduce the cost associated with state incarceration,” Wetzel said. “For years, we have said that offenders require treatment more so than a lengthy, expensive stay in the state prison system. Finally, offenders are getting the treatment they need at a more-appropriate level of the criminal justice system. This ensures appropriate treatment and saves the expensive state prison space for the more violent offenders – those that truly should be separated from society.”

DOC’s population numbers also reflect individuals participating in the State Intermediate Punishment (SIP) program and technical parole violators who serve time in a community corrections center. When only considering the in-prison population, the number of inmates in prison actually dropped by 918 in 2015.

The total population drop of 842 in 2015 is larger than the total drop of 756 from 2014 and DOC’s 2015 population of 49,914 is the lowest that it has been since March 2009.

The Commonwealth began its criminal justice reform in 2012 with the enactment of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative. Work in this area, specifically the reduction in the state prison inmate population, has resulted in the state now being able to reinvest some of the money saved back into the county level.

“The reality is that there is still much work to be done and we can do even more to not only spend millions less on our prisons and more on creating jobs and education,” Gov. Wolf said. “But we can keep more people out of the system – through diversion programs and increased opportunity – and ensure that offenders more prepared to re-enter society with skills and a purpose to not return.”

In 2015, Gov. Tom Wolf encouraged Department of Corrections’ use of performance-based contracts that hold vendors accountable for the programs they provide, the DOC announced an overall recidivism reduction of 11.3 percent in the community corrections system.

In addition to community corrections recidivism reduction, the DOC in 2015 also announced exciting statistics that show a decrease in the six-month, one-year and three-year recidivism rates. The latest three-year and six-month rates are the lowest ever recorded, and the one-year rate is by far the largest drop from the previous year (a total drop of 5.3 percentage points).

Gov. Wolf also led an effort within the Department of Corrections to drastically expand their work in combating opioid addiction among inmates, including new treatment to help inmates reduce their reliance on substance and ensure they have coverage for health services after their release.

Also, in 2015, every DOC employee was trained in Mental Health First Aid; the DOC established an Office of Mental Health Advocate; and a number of new diversionary housing units were established to ensure mentally ill offenders are not placed in restricted housing units. Work continues in this area continually improving the DOC’s mental health.

Certain offenders are better served and show better outcomes by remaining close to home within the county criminal justice system.

To that end, the DOC has announced a funding solicitation totaling $1.5 million for county government candidates to divert “short min” inmates—those whose minimum sentence dates are one year or less from their admission date to the DOC—from state incarceration. Solicitations are due by March 1, 2016.

More information about state inmate populations is available online.

(Source:  Crisci Associates PA Capitol Digest)

Commission on Sentencing schedule

 

 

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By James A. Funt, Mingo Stroeber and Janice Sulman

January 18, 2016

philly.com

 

In his inaugural speech, Mayor Kenney committed to reforms of the city’s criminal justice system and to working with local businesses to help former inmates become productive members of our workforce. He also promised to address pretrial bail issues so that fewer people would be unnecessarily warehoused in our local prisons simply because they are unable to post bail.

We applaud these long-overdue advances designed to promote fairness in the system while significantly reducing the cost to taxpayers. But his efforts should not end there.

In addition, we urge the mayor to take up the cause of court-appointed attorneys. These lawyers represent thousands of indigent clients in criminal, juvenile, and dependency cases when they cannot afford representation and when the public defender’s office is unable to accept representation due to a conflict of interest.

If the mayor is as serious about criminal justice reform as he appears to be, the city must do everything it can to encourage and promote quality representation to our most vulnerable citizens. It must, therefore, finally address the paltry fees that these professionals are paid.

Last year, led by former Councilman Denny O’Brien, City Council commissioned a study of the court-appointment system through the national Sixth Amendment Center. The study was highly critical of the current fee structure, noting that Philadelphia, a first-class city, paid lawyers less than those practicing in Tupelo, Miss., a system so deficient as to make a mockery of the concept of equal justice under the law.

Indeed, except in homicide cases, no meaningful increase in court-appointed counsel fees has occurred since the 1990s – including simple cost-of-living increases – and Pennsylvania is one of only a few states that does not provide statewide funding for indigent counsel. As a result, we are losing talented and passionate advocates and our citizens are suffering.

Equal access to justice means that the most vulnerable among us are entitled to competent counsel and that those attorneys should be adequately paid for services rendered.

For many years, court-appointed attorneys, on whom the system depends, as well as the expert witnesses and investigators who are hired to assist with their cases, have not been paid in a timely manner or fairly compensated. Indeed, it is not unusual for payments to these hardworking professionals to be delayed for six months or more.

Most of the attorneys who agree to accept court appointments are highly qualified and experienced lawyers who operate small practices on tight budgets. Their practices are simply not sustainable if a large part of their receivables are continually significantly delayed. This systemic problem has forced many in this dedicated group, several of whom are women and minorities, to resign from accepting court appointments altogether.

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The resulting disruption in legal services has created a significant ripple effect, causing undue delays in processing of cases and leaving adults trapped needlessly in jail and juveniles in detention.  In dependency cases, parents are denied access to their children.  This fractured system places a financial strain of hundreds of thousands of dollars annually on an already burdened city.  For example, holding an adult defendant accused of a crime for an avoidable 30-day court delay costs city taxpayers more than $4,000.

To rectify these problems, past-due payments owed to attorneys who diligently represent their clients should be satisfied immediately.  Moreover, we urged the Kenney administration to examine ways to update the payment process to ensure, moving forward, that these zealous advocates are compensated promptly and fairly, as recommended by the Sixth Amendment study.  If we do, we may finally provide the justice that our most vulnerable citizens deserve at a significant savings to taxpayers.

James A. Funt is a partner with Greenblatt, Pierce, Engle, Funt, & Flores in Philadelphia and a former chair of the criminal justice section of the Philadelphia Bar Association. james@gpeff.com

Mingo Stroeber is vice chair of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. mingo.stroeber@verizon.net

Janice Sulman is the chair of the Dependency Court Committee for the Philadelphia Bar Association. jansulman@hotmail.com

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Amendments to Rule 801 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure, concerning qualifications of counsel in capital cases

Click for Order

Click for Rule

Click for Final Report

Amendments to Rules requiring financial disclosure by Judges

Click for Order relating to Magisterial District Judges

Click for Rule relating to Magisterial District Judges

Click for Order relating to Judges

Click for Rule relating to Judges

Session Schedule

Senate

January 19, 20, 25, 26, 27

February 8, 9, 10

Budget Hearings: Feb. 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, March 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 (no session during hearings)

March 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23

April 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13

May 9, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18

June 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30

House

January 25, 26, 27

February 8, 9, 10

March 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23

April 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13

May 2, 3, 4, 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, 25

June 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30

Governor Wolf’s Second Budget Address will be February 9

Budget Hearings                                                                                                                            

February 23– House Appropriations Committee 1 p.m.- Judiciary; 3 p.m.- Attorney General. Room 140 Main Capitol.

February 24– Senate Appropriations Committee 3 p.m.- Dept. of Drug & Alcohol Programs. Hearing Room 1, North Office Building.

February 25– Senate Appropriations Committee  3 p.m.- Attorney General. Hearing Room 1, North Office Building.

February 29– Senate Appropriations Committee Budget Hearings: 10 a.m.- Dept. of Corrections/Board of Probation & Parole.  Hearing Room 1, North Office Building.

March 1– House Appropriations Committee 1 p.m.- State Police/Homeland Security; 3 p.m.- Dept. of Health/Dept. of Drug & Alcohol Programs. Room 140 Main Capitol.

March 3– House Appropriations Committee 9:30 a.m.- Dept. of Corrections/Board of Probation & Parole.  Room 140 Main Capitol.

(Source for Session Schedule, Budget Address and Budget Hearings, Crisci Associates PA Capitol Digest)

 

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capitol

Session Schedule

Senate (Updated)

January 19, 20, 25, 26, 27

February 8, 9, 10

Budget Hearings: Feb. 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, March 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 (no session during hearings)

March 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23

April 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13

May 9, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18

June 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30

House (Updated)

January 11, 12, 25, 26, 27

February 8, 9, 10

March 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23

April 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13

May 2, 3, 4, 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, 25

June 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30

Upcoming events

January 12– Location/Time Added. Senate Hearing On Whether Or Not Indicted Attorney General Kathleen Kane Can Fulfill Her Duties With A Suspended Law License.  Hearing Room 1, North Office Building. 1:00. The Senate Committee on Senate Address report and other background is available online.  The hearing will be webcast on the Senate live video stream.

 

February 9– Gov. Wolf’s Second Budget Address.

(Source:  Crisci Associates PA Capitol Digest)

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