Government Relations Update – January 11, 2011
- State Legislature: Newly elected state legislators were inducted into office on January 4, 2011, and the current state legislature will now govern through November 30, 2013. As previously reported, Republicans regained control of the House after two terms in the minority and hold a 112 to 91 majority. As expected, the House elected Representative Sam Smith (R-Armstrong , Indiana , Jefferson) as the new speaker to replace Representative Keith McCall (D-Carbon). Senator Joseph Scarnati (R-Cameron, Clearfield , Elk, Jefferson , McKean, Potter, Tioga, Warren) will serve a third term as President Pro Tempore of the Pennsylvania Senate. While three additional Democratic senators were elected, Republicans retained control of the Senate by a margin of 30 to 20.
- Medical Assistance Modernization Act: On July 9, 2010, the Medical Assistance Modernization Act was passed as part of the state budget. As previously reported, the Act contemplates a 2.16% tax on hospital net inpatient revenues as a method to secure additional federal matching funds, which are then distributed to hospitals through increased medical assistance payments and restoration of payments eliminated in the state budget.
The Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare (DPW) submitted the medical assistance modernization plan to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for approval in late September. On December 29, 2010, CMS notified DPW that it had approved the plan. The Act will now be implemented, and the state will begin making hospital payments within the next six months. HAP is in the process of recalculating hospital-specific data for members and will issue an estimate of increased payments when complete.
- House Committee Chairs: On December 22, 2010, House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) appointed Republican committee chairs for the 2011-2012 legislative session. Representative Julie Harhart (R-Lehigh, Northampton ) was selected to serve as chair of the Professional Licensure Committee. The Professional Licensure Committee addresses matters impacting the 27 professional and occupational licensing boards supervised by the Department of State. Representative Paul Clymer (R-Bucks) was named as chair of the Education Committee, which is charged with addressing curriculum issues, educational mandates and ongoing budget constraints. House Democratic committee chairs have not yet been announced.
- Governor Rendell Transition: On January 5, 2011, Governor Rendell announced that he does not have any immediate plans when he leaves office on January 18, 2011. He is currently writing an autobiography. He expects to serve as a consultant to a number of unnamed companies and to serve on various boards. He may also join a Philadelphia law firm. He plans to maintain his position as host of the Eagles postgame show for Comcast SportsNet and to continue teaching at the Fels Institute of Government for the University of Pennsylvania.
- 112th Congress: On January 5, 2011, the new Congress commenced, and Congressmen Dent (R-PA-15), Fitzpatrick (R-PA-8) and Holden (D-PA-17) took the oath of office. Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) was also sworn in and became the junior Senator from Pennsylvania. Congressman John Boehner (R-OH-8) was elected as Speaker of the House. Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-8) was elected to serve as the Minority Leader. The House of Representatives had originally scheduled a vote on a bill repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) for January 12, 2011. However, House Republican Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA-7) postponed the vote due to the tragedy in Arizona. Since Republican members now control 242 votes, as compared to the 193 votes controlled by the Democrats, passage of the bill is almost certain to occur when the bill is rescheduled. Given that Democrats still control the Senate by a margin of 53 to 47, the bill will stall in the Senate. Despite the delay, Republican leaders assert that repeal of healthcare reform remains a top priority.
- Census Changes: On December 21, 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau released its 2010 population and Congressional apportionment count. As a result of its declining population, Pennsylvania will lose one Congressional seat beginning in 2013. Redistricting of Congressional seats in Pennsylvania is addressed by legislation, which must be approved by both chambers of the Pennsylvania General Assembly and signed by the Governor. The redistricting process is expected to eliminate or consolidate districts presently represented by Congressmen Critz (D-12) and Holden (D-17). Congressman Holden currently represents St. Luke’s Miners Memorial Hospital. Pennsylvania is one of eight states reducing its Congressional delegation by one member. Texas will gain four seats while New York and Ohio will each lose two seats. The changes are expected to have a positive impact for Republicans in the 2012 Congressional and Presidential elections.
- Staff Appointments: On December 31, 2010, Senator Toomey announced that Susan Zimskind of Allentown will serve as his Deputy State Director and that Marta Gabriel will serve as the Regional Manager for the Lehigh Valley. Ms. Zimskind served as the Senator’s legislative liaison when he was a Congressman. In her new role, she will assist in the operations of the statewide offices and advise the Senator on key policy issues. As Regional Manager, Ms. Gabriel will focus on local constituent services and managing the office outreach and community involvement in the Lehigh Valley. Ms. Gabriel previously served as the Executive Vice President of Operations of the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce. She also held positions at Air Products and Crayola.
- Transitions: On January 4, 2011, the University of Pennsylvania Law School announced that former Senator Arlen Specter will become an adjunct faculty member. The Senator will join the University during the fall of 2011 and will teach a course on the relationship between Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court. His course will focus on the separation of powers and the confirmation process. The Senator earned his bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania in 1951 and his law degree from Yale University in 1956.
Former Congressman Patrick Murphy has joined the Philadelphia law firm of Fox Rothschild as a partner in the firm’s litigation department. He is a 1996 graduate of King’s College and earned his law degree from Widener University School of Law in 1999. The Congressman’s wife was formerly an associate with Fox Rothschild.