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

Robinson’s Boat Registration Bill Becomes Law

HARRISBURG – Sen. Devlin Robinson’s (R-37) bill to change the timing of boat registrations in Pennsylvania was signed into law today.

Senate Bill 403, now Act 28 of 2022, parallels the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s (PFBC) boat registration period with the calendar year. 

“An outdated provision in the Fish and Boat Code creates significant confusion, even for experienced boaters who sometimes find themselves believing that their registration is valid longer than it really is,” said Robinson. “Expired boat registrations are one of the most common violations that the Commission’s Waterways Conservation Officers encounter in the field and this legislation simply adjusts the dates to clear up any confusion.”

Under the Robinson bill, the boat registration period lasts two years, beginning on Jan. 1 and extending until Dec. 31of the second year. The goal of the legislation is to provide a more predictable and commonsense registration cycle which coordinates with the Commission’s permits for canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards.

“This is certainly welcome news to boaters across Pennsylvania, as it provides clarity and improves the registration process,” said John Mahn, PFBC District 2 Commissioner. “This simplified approach will make it easier and more convenient for boaters to keep up with their registrations each year and aid our Waterways Conservation Officers by reducing the number of outdated boat registrations they encounter while on patrol.”

“Aligning boat registration in the Commonwealth with the calendar year is a commonsense reform of Pennsylvania’s Fish and Boat Code,” said Rep. Keith Gillespie (R-York), chairman of the House Game and Fisheries Committee. “Knowing the confusion caused by the previous registration period, I am gratified by the enactment of this much needed legislation.”

The new law takes effect immediately.

 

CONTACT: Elizabeth Weitzel; 717-787-5839

Robinson Bill Expanding Waterfront Development Tax Credit Program Approved by Committee

HARRISBURG –State Sen. Devlin Robinson’s (R-37) bill to expand the existing Pennsylvania Waterfront Development Tax Credit (WDTC) Program was approved today by the Senate Finance Committee.

“Pennsylvania’s rivers, lakes and creeks offer substantial opportunities for economic development and public recreation for both residents and visitors,” Robinson said. “Despite the desire to enhance waterfront areas, access to sufficient funding presents a formidable obstacle. This legislation will help to ease that burden.”

The WDTC Program, established by Act 84 of 2016, is an essential tool that helps communities fulfill the potential of their waterways. Established by the Pennsylvania General Assembly with bipartisan support, the program encourages private investment in waterfront property that creates public access to the water, increases property values, restores ecology and creates jobs and economic growth.

The tax credit is currently capped at $1.5 million statewide, with growing demand rapidly outpacing the amount of credits available. Senate Bill 1205 increases the total amount of tax credits, which may be granted in any fiscal year, to $10 million.

The legislation now goes to the full Senate for consideration.

 

CONTACT: Elizabeth Weitzel, 717-787-5839

Robinson Bill to Modernize Membership of the Port of Pittsburgh Commission Board Approved by Senate

HARRISBURG – Sen. Devlin Robinson’s (R-37) bill to modernize the membership of the Port of Pittsburgh Commission Board was unanimously approved today by the state Senate.

“Pittsburgh’s famous three rivers are vital to our region’s development by providing more than 200 miles of waterways for commercial and recreational use,” Robinson said. “Senate Bill 1199 provides an overdue upgrade to the commission’s board membership and will contribute to an enhanced and more efficient operation.”

Originally founded in 1992, the Port of Pittsburgh Commission is an independent agency of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and serves a 12-county port district that encompasses all 200 miles of commercially navigable waterways in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Robinson’s update, the first in more than 25 years, would reduce the commission from 15 members to 13 by retaining the current four legislative appointments as well as the four members appointed by the governor. The remaining five members would include three appointed by the governor from a list of nominees submitted by the Southwestern Pennsylvania Regional Planning Commission, one member nominated by the Port of Pittsburgh’s Executive Committee and appointed by the Port’s Board, and one member appointed by the governor from a list of nominees submitted by the Port’s board.

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

 

CONTACT:
Elizabeth Weitzel, 717-787-5839

**Media Advisory** Senators Speaking at Rally to Oppose Bridge Tolling

Watch Live

HARRISBURG – Several Pennsylvania senators will be joining members of the No P3 Bridge Tolls Coalition, an organization against the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) Major Bridge Public-Private Partnership (P3) initiative, to voice opposition to the Wolf administration’s plan to toll interstate bridges in Pennsylvania, starting with the following nine bridges:

PennDOT’s plan proposes tolling to pay for bridge projects and has received an overwhelming amount of disapproval, including members of the General Assembly, other elected officials and Pennsylvania residents. The Commonwealth Court has temporarily halted PennDOT’s entire bridge tolling plan with a preliminary injunction.

Who: Sens. Wayne Langerholc, Jr. (R-35), chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, Scott Hutchinson (R-21) and Devlin Robinson (R-37), as well as the No P3 Bridge Tolls Coalition members and additional state and local elected officials.

What: No P3 Bridge Tolls Coalition Harrisburg rally.

When: Wednesday, June 8 at 10 a.m.

Where: Front steps of the Capitol Complex, 501 N Third St. Livestream will also be available on https://www.pasenategop.com/ and facebook.com/PASenateGOP.

The event is open to the public and media.

 

Contact: Nolan Ritchie (Sen. Langerholc)

Robinson Bill to Modernize Membership of the Port of Pittsburgh Commission Board Approved by Committee

HARRISBURG – Sen. Devlin Robinson’s (R-37) bill to modernize the membership of the Port of Pittsburgh Commission Board was unanimously approved today by the Senate Transportation Committee.

“The City of Pittsburgh has long been known for its three rivers and the Port of Pittsburgh Commission plays a vital role in connecting our region’s businesses with the necessary funding to expand and develop commercial use of these waterways,” said Robinson. “Senate Bill 1199 provides an overdue update to the commission’s board membership for improved and more efficient operation.”

Originally founded in 1992, the Port of Pittsburgh Commission is an independent agency of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and serves a 12-county port district that encompasses all 200 miles of commercially navigable waterways in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

Robinson’s update, the first in more than 25 years, would reduce the commission from 15 members to 13 by retaining the current four legislative appointments as well as the four members appointed by the governor. The remaining five members would include three appointed by the governor from a list of nominees submitted by the Southwestern Pennsylvania Regional Planning Commission, one member nominated by the Port of Pittsburgh’s Executive Committee and appointed by the Port’s Board, and one member appointed by the governor from a list of nominees submitted by the Port’s board.

The legislation now goes to the full Senate for consideration.

 

CONTACT: Elizabeth Weitzel, 717-787-5839

Robinson: Gov. Wolf’s Costly Bridge Tolling Plan Halted

HARRISBURG – Today, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania granted a preliminary injunction stopping Gov. Wolf’s plan to toll nine major bridges across the state until further court action occurs, according to Sen. Devlin Robinson (R-37). The tolling plan would include the I-79 bridge in Bridgeville.

“Members of the General Assembly, local officials and Pennsylvania taxpayers have voiced their strong opposition for PennDOT’s bridge tolling plan,” said Robinson. “That is why I was determined to assist in creating legislation that would reform the Public Private Partnership (P3) statute and void PennDOT’s tolling plan. I praise the Commonwealth Court on their ruling today and commend the local officials of the county and municipalities that challenged this unconstitutional overreach.”

The bridge tolling initiative would cost the average commuter an additional $1,000 per year and was moved through the process without legislative input nor approval. The Commonwealth Court sided with a county and several municipalities that challenged the bridge tolling plan as unconstitutional.

The Senate Transportation Committee held several hearings throughout the state to better understand how PennDOT was authorized to move forward without approval from the General Assembly.

This order halts PennDOT’s tolling of the following bridges:

 

CONTACT: Elizabeth Weitzel

Robinson: Bridge Tolling Lawsuit Hearing Held Today

ALLEGHENY – The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania today conducted a hearing regarding a lawsuit filed by Bridgeville Borough and South Fayette and Collier townships and Bridgeville Borough against the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) to halt plans to toll nine bridges throughout the state, including the I-79 bridge in Bridgeville, according to Sen. Devlin Robinson (R-37).

“From the beginning, members of the General Assembly and local officials in the Commonwealth have opposed PennDOT’s bridge tolling plan, which is nothing but a tax and financial burden for hardworking Pennsylvanians and their communities,” said Robinson. “I commend the community leaders in Bridgeville, Collier and South Fayette and am pleased to see them have their day in court. I remain hopeful that the result of the today’s hearing will be in their favor.”

Robinson has been a vocal opponent of the P3 tolling plan, which PennDOT authorized without providing details or seeking approval from the General Assembly. He co-sponsored Senate Bill 382, which reforms the P3 statute and voids PennDOT’s plan. In November 2021, the three municipalities filed suit.

The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania is expected to rule in the coming weeks.

 

CONTACT: Elizabeth Weitzel

 

Robinson Issues Statement on Concealment of Bridge Inspection Notes

ALLEGHENY – State Sen. Devlin Robinson (R-37) issued the following statement regarding the Wolf Administration’s removal of bridge inspection reports for public access:

“The Wolf Administration has just demonstrated another appalling example of irresponsible government. Faced with the collapse of a major bridge, it has sealed off public access to all bridge safety inspection notes, claiming the public might not understand them. What the public absolutely understands is that thousands of our bridges are in dangerous condition, and the proof lies in the rubble of the Fern Hollow Bridge. Now, Pennsylvanians are deprived of their right to know which bridges are hazardous.

“Hiding these reports denies our citizens the opportunity to do what Wolf’s PennDOT did not – act for public safety before a disaster happens. This breach of the public trust reveals an administration with no regard for the public’s right to know, nor their right to be safe. If Gov. Wolf will not overturn this reckless and irresponsible misdeed, the legislature must act accordingly.”

 

Contact: Elizabeth Weitzel

 

Robinson Announces $6 Million in Grants for Allegheny Tourism

HARRISBURG – Sen. Devlin Robinson (R-37) announced that six Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) grants totaling $6 million to benefit tourism was awarded to Allegheny County.

“There are so many things to love about Pittsburgh, including the continuous improvements and innovations,” Robinson said. “These grants will keep Allegheny County moving forward with tourism and community projects, resulting in economic development and job growth. People from all over the world love visiting our city, and our citizens take pride in their community. I look forward to seeing these projects come to fruition.”

  • Allegheny County Airport Authority – $2 million

Neighborhood 91, located near the entrance to Pittsburgh International Airport, will soon become the epicenter of additive manufacturing. The project site is a former coal mine and an area that has been used to dump municipal water. The master plan for this site includes more than one million square feet of new office space, 90,000 square feet of research and development space, a 400 room Class A hotel, and 240,000 square feet of new hangar space. The requested grant funds will be used for site preparation, infrastructure, engineering design and construction associated with Phase 6 of the overall project.

  • AHN Jefferson Regional Medical Center – $500,000

Current office spaces will be renovated to become integrated models for Medication Assisted Treatment Outpatient Clinic for Opioid Use Disorder care. The space will be refurbished to include patient examination rooms, a gathering space to host group and individual treatments, and office spaces. Renovations include upgrades to HVAC and lightning.

  • Municipality of Bethel Park – $500,000

Installation of recreational lighting poles to two fields located at Village Green Park and Millennium Park. The current lacrosse and soccer fields are unlit.

  • The Buncher Company – $1 million

Necessary improvements to the Findlay Industrial Park at Westport III site pad, including excavation, water infrastructure installation, and storm and sanitary sewers. Upon the completion of these activities, the construction of an 80,000-100,000 square foot warehouse facility will begin, providing prospective businesses with the necessary space for their specific ventures.

  • Robert Morris University – $1 million

The project will complete the expansion of the John Jay Center by adding new labs and learning environments. The project will enhance existing facilities, equipment, and educational support to meet the growth of the school and the region. The renovation will provide more space for teaching laboratories, student-faculty research labs, classrooms, computer labs and collaborative spaces.

  • Township of Moon – $1 million

Moon Township public safety building renovations. Mooncrest Community Center sanitary sewer service expansion and replacement. Boggs Run Fire Station extension of approximately 2,300 linear feet of water main sewer, and installation of 200 linear feet of water service to the Boggs Run Fire Station.

RACP is a Commonwealth grant program administered by the Office of the Budget for the acquisition and construction of regional economic, cultural, civic, recreational and historical improvement projects. RACP projects are state-funded and cannot obtain primary funding under other state programs.

 

Contact: Elizabeth Weitzel