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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: January 29, 2021 11:16 AM
From: Senator Katie J. Muth and Sen. Lindsey M. Williams
To: All Senate members
Subject: Rules Reform: Expanding Legislative Requirements and Action for Bills on Concurrence
In the near future, we will be introducing a resolution amending the Senate Operating Rules to ensure all bills coming back to the Senate on concurrence receive an updated bill analysis and fiscal note and are able to be amended on the floor. This proposed resolution is among a package of Senate Rules Reform Resolutions, many of which are included in SR4, that are intended to empower members of both sides of the aisle to effectively advocate for their constituents. This package of Rules Reforms will ensure transparency in the legislative process, encourage public participation, and hold members accountable to the public. 

When a piece of legislation that has already passed through the Senate is amended in the House, that bill must come back “on concurrence” to the Senate. This means that the amended version which passed the house must be voted on by the full Senate in its latest version, as amended by the House, before being sent to the Governor’s desk for signature or veto. 

When a bill returns to the Senate on concurrence, it is sent to the Rules Committee first and then, if and when voted out of that committee, it can be considered by the entire Senate for a concurrence vote on final passage. Currently, that bill can only be amended in the Rules Committee and not on the Senate floor, denying Senators who do not sit on the committee the ability to offer amendments.  

Since amendments made in the House can substantially change the intent and impact of the original bill, the inability to offer floor amendments to bills coming back over from the House on concurrence prohibits Senators from offering amendments to make meaningful changes to possibly flawed or harmful legislation. Additionally, Senators do not currently receive an updated fiscal note reflecting changes made by the House when a bill comes back on concurrence, nor do senators always receive an updated bill analysis in advance of a vote. Without updated bill analyses and fiscal notes, this leaves a loophole allowing potentially fiscally and humanly harmful legislation to become law.

This resolution would require updated bill analyses and fiscal notes be provided to Senators prior to any vote, whether in committee or on the floor, for a bill returning on concurrence. Furthermore, this bill would allow for bills returning on concurrence to be amended on the floor so that all Senators have the ability to advocate for their districts, improve flawed legislation, and offer amendments based on stakeholder and public concerns.

Please join us in cosponsoring this important change to the Senate Operating Rules. 

Introduced as SR77