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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: June 23, 2017 10:25 AM
From: Representative Gerald J. Mullery
To: All House members
Subject: State Facility Closure Protocol
In the near future, I will be introducing legislation to create a more transparent and unified process for closing our state-run facilities.

As you know, earlier this year the Department of Corrections announced their decision to close SCI Pittsburgh by June 30. Deviating from their original plan to close two state prisons, this timeframe to uproot 2,500 inmates and state employees has nonetheless been a rushed process that has largely ignored input from the community, local prison workers and the economic impact on the Pittsburgh area. While it is reasonable to implement such cost-saving initiatives during our current budget shortfall, it is imperative that there be a timely protocol in place to allow the public and all stakeholders to voice their opinion.

My legislation would create a legislative review process that includes public hearings and a detailed timeline when there is any attempt to close a state facility employing more than 25 state employees. Specifically, that timeline is as follows:
  • A state executive branch officer with jurisdiction over the facility would file notice of the proposed closure with the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee within two days after the first public announcement of the proposed closure;
  • Within 30 days after the committee receives notice of the closure, the State executive officer must then file a detailed recommendation for the facility’s closure with the committee;
  • Then a 90-day public comment period would follow the filing of the recommendation, where the committee holds at least two public hearings, one of which being held within 25 miles of the proposed facility;
  • On the 90th day, the committee would issue an advisory opinion on the original recommendation which would be filed with the executive branch officer, the governor, and the General Assembly and be made publicly available; and
  • Finally, no action would be taken to implement the recommendation for closure of a state facility until one year after the filing of the initial notice of the proposed closure with the committee.

To use this year’s prison closure as an example, under my legislation, SCI Pittsburgh would not close until January 2018 instead of the proposed date of June 30, 2017. I believe this bill provides for a fair and timely process that would allow for input from the public and stakeholders across the state. Please join me in co-sponsoring this very important legislation.