Bills Moving In State Capitol Last Week

Multiple developments played out in the State Capitol last week that are of interest to the PPA and its member companies.

PA Become 27th State To Ban Handheld Cellphones While Driving

Last week, Governor Shapiro signed into law Senate Bill 37 which prohibits the use of a handheld cellular phones or electronic wireless devices while operating a motor vehicle in the Commonwealth. This adds to the previously passed law prohibiting text messaging while driving. Commercial drivers are exempt from the ban if the phone used in the course of the drivers duties in relation to their employment.

This exemption applies in cases where federal law or regulations permit handheld phone use. For other drivers, there will be a one-year period in which warnings will be issued. After that, violation of the law will be a summary offense subject to a $50 fine.


Fuel Delivery Ticket Modernization Bill Passes Senate Committee 

The bill that would permit companies delivering fuel oil to utilize electronic communication with its customers cleared another step in the legislative process last week. The Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee reported out House Bill 1889 (Malagari-D Montgomery) by unanimous vote.

PPA thanks Majority Committee Chair Elder Vogel (R-Beaver) and Democratic Chair Judy Schwank (D-Berks) for their support of the legislation. The next step in the process will be for the legislation to be approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

PPA is working with its members in the Senate Republican leadership in requesting that the bill be scheduled for a Senate vote. Earlier this year, HB 1889 passed the state House by a vote of 201-0.


EV Bill Road Usage Fee Passes House Committee 

A bill that would impose a tax on various forms of Electric Vehicles was reported from the state House Appropriations Committee last week, after being amended by a partisan vote.

Senate Bill 656 modify Title 75 (Vehicles) to impose an annual fee on Electric
Vehicles (EV) and Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV) and provides for Alternative Fuels Tax on Electricity (AFT).

The bill had passed the Senate last year with different language. The bill would need to be voted on by the House and return to the Senate for its approval. The PPA supports legislation that ensures EV drivers pay a comparable road usage fee to the current motor fuel tax.


Ready-To-Drink Cocktail Legislation Passes PA Senate 

By a narrow vote of 26-24, the state Senate passed Senate Bill 688   which would expand sales of ready to drink (RTD) beverages to entities currently permitted to sell beer and wine. The change in the liquor code was necessary because RTD products contain spirits, while grocery and convenience stores with beer /wine licenses and prohibited from selling RTD’s because of their spirit content.

Controversy still surrounds the legislation. The bill that passed would provide for certain classes of beer distributors to be the wholesales of RTD products. The LCB and its unions oppose this version of the bill, citing the loss of revenue to the state store system. It is likely that the Democrat House will move to change the legislation to restore the wholesale function to the LCB.