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Please mark your calendars with these upcoming important dates. The specific Senate and House budget hearing schedule should be released in early January.

  • Swearing-in Day will be on January 1, 2019
  • Governor Wolf will deliver his annual budget address on Tuesday, February 5, 2019
  • Senate budget hearings will be held from February 19, 2019 to March 7, 2019 (March 8 is a make-up day in case of snow)
  • House budget hearings will be held from February 11, 2019 through March 7, 2019

Questions, please contact Jack Phillips.

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Both Houses of the Pennsylvania General Assembly announced their respective legislative days for the Spring of 2019. Please find below the days when the General Assembly will be in session.


January           1, 15, 16, 28, 29, 30
February         4, 5, 6
March              18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 27
April                 8, 9, 10, 29, 30
May                 1, 6, 7, 8
June                3, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 17, 18, 19, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28


January           1, 15, 16, 28, 29, 30
February         4, 5, 6, 19, 20, 21
March              11, 12, 13, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 27
April                 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17, 29, 30
May                 1, 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 22, 23 (Cancelled)
June                3, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 17, 18, 19, 20, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28

*Bold indicates changes made when last updated on 12/6/18

Questions, please contact Jack Phillips, RCPA Director of Government Affairs.

Earlier this week, State Representative Seth Grove (R – York) drafted and has been circulating a co-sponsorship memo that will possibly eliminate the behavioral health carve out. Additionally, State Representative Aaron Kaufer (R – Luzerne) spoke with Jack Phillips, RCPA Director of Government Affairs, expressing his interest in drafting similar legislation.

Today, Richard Edley, RCPA President/CEO, and Jack Phillips spoke with staffers from the House Human Service and Health Committees about this legislation. The House staff asked for RCPA’s   feedback within the next few weeks, because staff will be working on the draft legislative language. During the discussion with House staff, RCPA requested stakeholder meetings and possibly a House hearing on the legislation. The House staff was open to RCPA’s recommendations, and they indicated a willingness for a robust discussion on this legislation.

The elimination of the behavioral health carve out will be discussed at the upcoming RCPA Open Board Meeting on Wednesday, December 12. The RCPA Open Board meeting will take place at RCPA, 777 E Park Drive, Harrisburg, PA 17111. Questions, contact RCPA Director of Government Affairs Jack Phillips.

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The Senate and House Democrat Caucuses as well as the House Republican Caucus (currently, the Senate Republican Caucus does not have an announcement of new members) announced the new members of their respective caucuses for the upcoming 2019–20 General Assembly Session. All members will be sworn into office on January 1, 2019.

Questions, contact RCPA Director of Government Affairs Jack Phillips.

Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) Acting Deputy Secretary Kristin Ahrens has officially been named Deputy Secretary of ODP.

Deputy Secretary Ahrens formerly served as Director of Bureau of Policy and Quality Management. She was instrumental in developing the ODP waivers and has been responsible for policy development, training, quality, and communications for the past two years. Prior to her appointment at ODP she served as the Policy Director at Temple University, where she was responsible for directing all policy-related activities for the institute, including policy analysis; training and technical assistance to staff, community groups, and policymakers; and creating and/or disseminating briefs on local, state, and federal policy issues that affect people with disabilities and families. Ahrens also provided consultation to ODP on fiscal policy and the HCBS settings rule, served on the Adult Protective Services Coalition, Disability Budget Coalition, DHS Regulatory Revision Work Group, and Association for University Centers Legislative Affairs Committee. She also has experience in Person-Driven Services, including her work at Self Determination Resources (SDRI) for six years, where she was instrumental in the growth of SDRI from a pilot project to a fully operational model brokerage which was replicated statewide. In addition, Ms. Ahrens served as a consultant on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Transformation Transfer Initiative for building sustainable self-directed services in PA’s mental health system.

RCPA extends our congratulations to Deputy Secretary Ahrens and we look forward to continuing collaborative work in her role at ODP. Contact Carol Ferenz, RCPA IDD Division Director, with questions.

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On Wednesday, members of the Senate Republican and Democratic caucuses chose their respective leadership teams for the upcoming 2019-20 Legislative Session. When the Senate re-convenes in January, the Senate Republicans will hold a 29-21 majority, with the possibility of that number going to 28-22 on the outcome of a “too close to call” election in Bucks County.

The Senate leadership elections did not provide any changes to either caucus’ leadership team for the 2019-20 Session. The Senate Republican Caucus will consist of the same leadership team of:

Senate Pro-Tempore – Joe Scarnati (Jefferson). Sen. Scarnati was chosen by the full Senate to be the nominee for Senate President Pro Tempore. His nomination will be voted by the full Senate when the chamber convenes on swearing-in day, which will be Jan. 1, 2019.

  • Senate Majority Leader – Jake Corman (Centre)
  • Senate Majority Whip – John Gordner (Columbia)
  • Senate Majority Appropriations Committee Chair – Pat Browne (Lehigh)
  • Senate Majority Appropriations Committee Vice-Chair – Kim Ward (Westmoreland)
  • Senate Majority Caucus Chair – Bob Mensch (Montgomery)
  • Senate Majority Caucus Secretary – Rich Alloway (Franklin)

Two positions are still vacant — those positions of Senate Majority Caucus Administrator and Senate Majority Policy Committee Chair will be appointed by Senator Joe Scarnati once he is officially elected Senate Pro-Tempore.

The Senate Democrat Caucus leadership team did not have any changes. The Senate Democrat Caucus leadership team is as follows:

  • Senate Minority Leader – Jay Costa (Allegheny)
  • Senate Minority Whip – Anthony Williams (Philadelphia)
  • Senate Minority Appropriations Committee Chair – Vincent Hughes (Philadelphia)
  • Senate Minority Appropriations Committee Vice-Chair – Judy Schwank (Berks)
  • Senate Minority Caucus Chair – Wayne Fontana (Allegheny)
  • Senate Minority Caucus Secretary – Larry Farnese (Philadelphia)
  • Senate Minority Policy Committee Chair – Lisa Boscola (Northampton)
  • Senate Minority Caucus Administrator – John Blake (Lackawanna)

Questions, contact RCPA Director of Government Affairs Jack Phillips.

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On Tuesday, members of the House Republican and Democratic caucuses chose their respective leadership teams for the upcoming 2019-20 Legislative Session.  When the House re-convenes in January, the House Republicans will hold a 110-93 majority, which is historic, because this is only the second time since 1924 that the Republicans have maintained the majority in the House for four or more consecutive two-year legislative sessions.

The House Republican leadership team for the 2019-20 Session is as follows:

House Speaker Mike Turzai (Allegheny), was chosen by the caucus as its Speaker-designee for the coming two-year session. Given the GOP’s solid majority in the House, Turzai is a virtual shoe-in to repeat as Speaker, a position voted on by the entire House during the General Assembly’s swearing-in day, which will be Jan. 1, 2019 this time around.

Majority Leader – Bryan Cutler (Lancaster).  Rep. Cutler takes over the Majority Leader role because Rep. Dave Reed is leaving for a private sector job.

Majority Whip – Kerry Benninghoff (Centre).  With Cutler vacating the Whip post, current House GOP Policy Committee Chairman Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre, was elected to replace him.

Majority Policy Chair – Donna Oberlander (Clarion).  Current GOP Caucus Secretary, Rep. Donna Oberlander, R-Clarion, was elected by the caucus to replace Benninghoff as Policy Committee Chair – the first woman to hold that position in the House GOP Caucus.

There were no changes for the other caucus leadership spots with the current leadership team winning re-election for their positions.  Those positions are as follows:

Appropriations Majority Chair – Stan Saylor (York).

Caucus Administrator – Kurt Masser, (Northumberland).

Caucus Chair – Marcy Toepel (Montgomery)

Caucus Secretary –  Mike Reese (Westmoreland).  Rep. Reese will be replacing Rep. Oberlander as Caucus Secretary.

The House Democrat leadership team for the 2019-20 Session is as follows:

Minority Leader Frank Dermody, D-Allegheny, will continue to lead the caucus during the next legislative session as a result of Tuesday’s leadership election. He ran unopposed.

The House Republican leadership team for the 2019-20 Session is as follows:

Minority Caucus Whip – Jordan Harris (Philadelphia).

Minority Appropriations Chair – Matthew Bradford (Montgomery).

Reps Harris and Bradford succeed two western Democrats – Reps. Mike Hanna, D-Clinton, and Joseph Markosek, D-Allegheny, who are retiring from the House and their whip and appropriations jobs, respectively.

Rep. Matt Bradford defeated Rep. Dan Frankel (Allegheny) in a close vote for the appropriations post. At one point before the vote, Bradford and his supporters went to another room to caucus on strategy.

Rep. Jordan Harris defeated Rep. Mike Carroll (Luzerne) for the caucus whip post.

Minority Caucus Chair – Joanna McClinton (Philadelphia).  Rep. McClinton defeated Rep. Robert Freeman (Northampton), and Rep. Robert Matzie (Beaver) for that post. McClinton was elected to the House in 2015.

Minority Caucus Administrator – Neal Goodman (Schuylkill).  Rep. Goodman turned back a challenge from Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky (Delaware), to win another term.

Minority Policy Committee Chair – Mike Sturla (Lancaster).  Rep. Sturla won re-election for this position  without opposition.

Minority Caucus Secretary – Rosita Youngblood (Philadelphia).  Rep. Youngblood was reelected Minority Caucus Secretary without opposition.

Today, the state Senate’s political caucuses will choose their new leadership teams.

Questions, contact RCPA Director of Government Affairs Jack Phillips.

(Source:, Chris Comisac and Robert Swift, Wednesday, November 14, 2018)

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Midterm Election Results: Split Decision Nationally, Good Night for PA Democrats in State Races

Yesterday was a mixed bag of results nationally for both parties. The Democrats took control of the House Representatives, while the Republicans maintained control of the Senate. After a cursory look at the federal election results in Pennsylvania and nationwide, it looks like the blue wave did materialize like some had predicted. Nationally, the Democrats gained a little better than the historic average of 28 seats for the party out of power during a presidential mid-term election. The Democrats in Pennsylvania took advantage of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court-drawn congressional map and congressional retirements to flip seats in the Southeast. The breakdown of the PA Congressional Delegation prior to last night was 13-5 in favor of the Republicans; after last night, the PA Congressional Delegation breakdown will be 9-9 between Democrats and Republicans.

In the Senate, Incumbent Senator Bob Casey had an easy time dispatching his challenger Lou Barletta. Nationally, the Republicans held control of the Senate and added 3 to 4 seats to their majority. The Senate still has races that are “too close to call” in Montana and Arizona, and in Mississippi there will be a run-off election on November 27, because no one received more than 50% of the vote.

Turning back to Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Wolf defeated his opponent Scott Wagner by a 17% point margin, ensuring him 4 more years in the Governor’s mansion. In the General Assembly, the Senate Democrats were able to pick up 4-5 seats (one seat is “too close to call”). The PA Democrat Senate picked up at least 3 seats in the Southeast and one in the Southwest. The race in Bucks County between Incumbent State Senator Tommy Tomlinson and Democrat Challenger Tina Davis is “too close to call” with Senator Tomlinson leading by 500 or less. Incumbent State Senate Republicans Tom McGarricle (R – Delaware County) and John Rafferty (R – Montgomery) lost to their Democrat challengers. In the Southwest (Allegheny County – District 38), Democrat Lindsey Williams defeated Republican Jeremy Shaffer, who won the primary against the Incumbent Republican Senator Randy Vulakovich by a margin of 50.22% to 49.78%. When the PA Senate returns in January, the Republicans will maintain control of the Senate by a margin of 29 – 21 or 30 – 20 (depending on the outcome of the Tomlinson v. Davis race in Bucks County).

New members of the PA Senate are as follows:

  • Steve Santarsiero (D – Bucks). He defeated former State House Republican Marquerite Quinn
  • Maria Collet (D – Bucks/Montgomery). She defeated retiring State Senator Stewart Greenleaf’s son
  • Tim Kearney (D – Delaware). He defeated Incumbent State Senator Tom McGarrigle
  • Kristin Phillips-Hill (R – York). She won Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Scott Wagner’s open seat
  • Judy Ward (R – Blair/Fulton). She won the seat vacated by Republican State Senator John Eichelberger
  • Lindsey Williams (D – Allegheny). She defeated Republican Jeremy Shaffer, who won the primary against the Incumbent Republican Senator Randy Vulakovich
  • Katie Muth (D – Berks/Chester/Montgomery). She defeated incumbent State Senator John Rafferty

The Democrats also had a good night in state House races. The Democrats picked up 10 seats in the PA House. Again as in the PA Senate, House Democrats picked up most of their seats in the collar counties of Philadelphia. The Republicans had 121 of the House’s 203 seats to defend. Out of those 121 seats, 20 seats were open because of Incumbent Republican retirements. Democrats won 5 of the open seats, which were held by Republicans, and they unseated 8 Republican incumbents; however, the Democrats also lost 3 of their own seats to Republicans for a net gain of 10. The Republicans will still maintain control of the PA House of Representatives by a margin of 111 – 92.

New members of the House are as follows:

  • 2nd District – Democrat Robert Merski (OPEN)
  • 15th – Republican Joshua Kail (OPEN)
  • 21st – Democrat Sara Innamorato
  • 29th – Republican Meghan Schroeder (OPEN)
  • 30th – Republican Lori Mizgorski (OPEN)
  • 34th – Democrat Summer Lee
  • 39th – Republican Michael Puskaric (OPEN)
  • 40th – Republican Natalie Mihalek (OPEN)
  • 44th – Republican Valerie Gaydos (OPEN)
  • 53rd – Democrat Steven Malagari (OPEN)(PICK-UP)
  • 54th – Republican Robert Brooks (OPEN)
  • 61st – Democrat Laura Hanbidge (PICK-UP)
  • 62nd – Republican James Struzzi (OPEN)
  • 68th – Republican Clinton Owlett (OPEN)
  • 71st – Republican James Rigby (PICK-UP)
  • 74th – Democrat Dan Williams (OPEN)(PICK-UP)
  • 76th – Republican Stephanie Borowicz (OPEN)(PICK-UP)
  • 79th – Republican Louis Schmitt (OPEN)
  • 80th – Republican James Gregory (OPEN)
  • 82nd – Republican Johnathan Hershey (OPEN)
  • 93rd – Republican Paul Jones (OPEN)
  • 105th – Republican Andrew Lewis (OPEN)
  • 112th – Democrat Kyle Mullins (OPEN)
  • 143rd – Democrat Wendy Ullman (OPEN)(PICK-UP)
  • 144th – Republican Todd Polinchock (OPEN)
  • 146th – Democrat Joseph Ciresi (PICK-UP)
  • 150th – Democrat Joseph Webster (OPEN)(PICK-UP)
  • 153rd – Democrat Ben Sanchez (OPEN)
  • 155th – Democrat Danielle Otten (PICK-UP)
  • 157th – Democrat Melissa Shusterman (PICK-UP)
  • 158th – Democrat Christina Sappey (PICK-UP)
  • 162nd – Democrat David Delloso (OPEN)(PICK-UP)
  • 163rd – Democrat Michael Zabel (PICK-UP)
  • 165th – Democrat Jennifer Omara (PICK-UP)
  • 167th – Democrat Kristine Howard (PICK-UP)
  • 175th – Democrat Mary Isaacson (OPEN)
  • 177th – Democrat Joseph Hohenstein (OPEN)(PICK-UP)
  • 178th – Republican Wendi Thomas (PICK-UP)
  • 181st – Democrat Malcolm Kenyatta (OPEN)
  • 184th – Democrat Elizabeth Fiedler (OPEN)
  • 193rd – Republican Torren Ecker (OPEN)
  • 197th – Democrat Danilo Burgos (OPEN)
  • 199th – Republican Barbara Gleim (OPEN)


On the national level, it will be interesting to see whether the Democrat Speaker of the House (presumably, Nancy Pelosi) will be able to manage the various factions of the Democrat caucus. As you may recall, Speaker Paul Ryan had the same issues with the Republican caucus. Look for the President, Senate, and House to work together on issues of infrastructure and other smaller initiatives. The big issues of health care, immigration, the deficit, the passage of a budget, and tax cuts will probably not be resolved and be left as issues for the 2020 election.

At the state level, the Governor can pursue large initiatives such as raising the minimum wage, tax increases, pension reform, and other such issues because he will not be on the ballot in four years; however, both chambers of the General Assembly are still controlled by Republicans by comfortable margins, so the Governor’s initiatives will be tempered by a more conservative General Assembly.

RCPA looks forward to our continued working relationship with the Governor, returning members of the General Assembly, and we look forward to meeting and working with the newly elected members.

For all election results from the Pennsylvania Department of State, please check here.

Questions, contact RCPA Director of Government Affairs Jack Phillips.

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Before the General Assembly adjourned for the upcoming general election, the Legislature passed HB 1233, Representative Tom Murt’s assisted outpatient treatment bill. RCPA and other organizations had been working with members of the General Assembly and the administration on this issue to make it more practical. Despite pleas to the Governor to veto the legislation, the Governor signed the bill into law on Wednesday, October 24. The bill becomes Act 106 of 2018.

A detailed summary of the bill can be viewed here. The Governor’s signing statement of why he approved the bill can be viewed here. For questions, please contact RCPA Director of Government Affairs Jack Phillips.

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Upon return to session this fall, Representatives Thomas Mehaffie and Thomas Murt intend to introduce legislation to create a professional licensure for behavior analysts. The goal is to have Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) recognized as an independent profession in Pennsylvania.

The Better Access to Treatment (BAT) Act proposes to promote an increase in behavior analysts working in Pennsylvania. In addition, it proposes to improve access to treatment for people struggling with substance use disorders and chronic mental illness, among other health issues. The act will set a minimum training and experience standard for licensed professionals within the ABA field. It also proposes a Behavior Analyst Oversight Board to protect the public and consumers, administer disciplinary action, and license new professionals.

The proposed legislation is endorsed and supported by the ABA in PA Initiative, a 501(c)(3) non-profit advocacy organization made up of parents, industry professionals, and lawmakers dedicated to ensuring access to ABA. RCPA is a member of ABA in PA and is committed to informing our members about the new legislation. More information can be found on the Frequently Asked Questions document and the Talking Points document.

Questions? Please contact Jack Phillips or Robena Spangler.