Robinson, Gebhard Bill to Increase Penalties for Hiring Unauthorized Workers Approved by Senate

HARRISBURG – Sens. Devlin Robinson (R-37) and Chris Gebhard’s (R-48) bill to improve enforcement of the construction industry’s use of the federal E-Verify system was approved today by the Senate.

The E-Verify system, which is administered by the United States Department of Homeland Security, determines the eligibility of employees – both U.S. and foreign citizens – to work in America. The Public Works Employment Verification Act already requires all public construction contractors, and their subcontractors, to use the federal E-Verify system to verify the legal employment eligibility of new hires. However, despite these requirements, the practice of hiring unauthorized workers continues due to the enforcement mechanisms being weak.

“Implementing the E-Verify system will ensure contractor employees are eligible and authorized to work in the United States, resulting in better business ethics,” Robinson said. “Creating a fairer construction industry in Pennsylvania will attract new employers and help boost our economy, therefore I am proud to sponsor it with Sen. Gebhard.”

To improve compliance, Senate Bill 1147 would make the financial penalties more meaningful. Rather than the current penalty of $250 – $1,000, violators would face a fine of $2,500 – $25,000. Senate Bill 1147 streamlines enforcement and reduces the need for time-consuming audits by requiring construction contractors to be enrolled in E-Verify upfront and makes it a punishable offense if they are not.

“The current penalty is so small that it’s not a deterrent for companies that aren’t motivated to follow the law on their own. Unfortunately, until it starts to hurt their business, the illegal practice will continue. That’s why our bill is so important; it would finally add some teeth to the law,” Gebhard said.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

 

CONTACT:
Elizabeth Weitzel (Robinson), 717-787-5839

Matthew Urban (Gebhard), 717-787-5708

Senate Committee Passes Gebhard Bill to Improve Personal Financial Literacy

HARRISBURG – Legislation sponsored by Sen. Chris Gebhard (R-48) to improve personal financial literacy by requiring completion of a full-credit economics and personal finance course as a high school graduation requirement was passed by the Senate Education Committee today.

The most recent estimates calculate there are more than 350 million American-owned credit card accounts, and, on average, credit card owners have about four cards apiece. This has led to astonishing levels of debt. As a nation, families in the United States are approaching approximately $1 trillion dollars in credit card debt and more than $15 trillion dollars in debt total.

“Far too often, the financial decisions our younger generations are making early in their lives are putting them at a financial disadvantage,” Gebhard stated. 

Senate Bill 1243 would give high school students the education they need on topics like credit and credit scores; savings and investments; college, auto and home loans; and planning for postsecondary education.

“From daily purchases to long-term financial planning, becoming proficient at money management is a critical skill all Pennsylvanians need,” Gebhard said. “By teaching high school students the financial basics, they will be able to make decisions that position them for lifetime success and financial independence.”

The content of the course will be in line with standards established by the second edition of the Voluntary National Content Standards in Economics and the 2013 National Standards for Financial Literacy, as developed by the Council for Economic Education.

The bill now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

 

CONTACT: Matthew Urban, 717-787-5708

Senate Passes Gebhard Bill to Improve Motor Carrier Safety

HARRISBURG – Legislation sponsored by Sen. Chris Gebhard (R-48) to improve highway safety regarding large motor carriers – including heavy trucks, public transit buses and coach buses – was passed by the Senate.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics show motor carriers contribute to 13% of highway deaths nationally despite only accounting for 3% of vehicles on the road, killing more than 5,000 people per year.

To address these safety concerns, Senate Bill 1094 would expand upon the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee (MCSAC), which was established in Act 21 of 2001. MSASC has undertaken measures to advance motor safety in the Commonwealth by advocating for commercial vehicle safety summits and evaluating innovations confronting the industry.

“MCSAC analyzed Act 21 and recommended updating the membership composition and refining the powers and duties to effectively address the safe movement of people and goods by commercial motor vehicles,” said Gebhard.

Senate Bill 1094 would expand the MCSAC to 30 members, adding five representatives from the transport industry, as well as a chairperson to be appointed by the governor.

Some notable changes to the updated duties of the committee include implementing education programs for first- and second-year commercial driver’s license (CDL) drivers, offering incentives for drivers to undergo safety training throughout their careers, creating a plan to increase and document motor carrier use of the PA Turnpike, and developing policy to address the dissemination of information among employers of CDL drivers relative to employee job performance and conduct to best protect the public from unsafe drivers.

The bill moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.

 

CONTACT: Matthew Urban, 717-787-5708

Senate Passes Gebhard Bill to Better Manage Pennsylvania’s Military Properties

HARRISBURG – Legislation sponsored by Sen. Chris Gebhard (R-48) enabling the state’s Armory Board to better manage Pennsylvania’s military properties unanimously passed the Senate.

Currently, an armory in the commonwealth is defined as a building used for housing Pennsylvania National Guard soldiers. However, there are many vital buildings, serving a wide array of needs, in which no one is quartered. Unfortunately, these buildings are presently not considered as part of the armory.

Senate Bill 1047 changes this definition to include all buildings the military uses to be part of the armory, allowing for more efficient oversight.

Also, it gives the adjutant generals (TAG) the option to designate someone else to sit on the Armory Board in his place and allow the TAG to authorize the rental of properties to government and non-profit agencies such as the Marine League, American Legion and the Civil Air Patrol.

“My bill is about giving the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) the tools needed to maximize the state’s resources falling under its jurisdiction, including Fort Indiantown Gap,” Gebhard stated. “Right now, the DMVA is limited in how properties can be managed and that needed to be addressed.”

The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration and possible amendments.

The 48th District includes all of Lebanon County and parts of Dauphin and York counties.

 

CONTACT: Matthew Urban, 717-787-5708