Since taking office in the state Senate in 2005, Senator Browne has authored more than 45 initiatives that have been signed into law and numerous others that have passed the Senate.
During Senator Browne’s service in the state House and now as your State Senator, he has been a leader on issues of government reform, job creation, lowering taxes, education, criminal justice and many others. Some of the legislation that he has crafted or is currently working on include:
• Senator Browne sponsored a bill that was signed into law as part of the 2009-2010 Budget that established an Independent Fiscal Office (IFO), a non-partisan bi-cameral agency with expertise in financial matters. The IFO will serve as a “watchdog” over legislative budget affairs, providing objective information on program performance and ensuring the efficient utilization of taxpayer resources.
• Senator Browne was instrumental in developing the Pennsylvania Web Accountability and Transparency Act (PennWATCH), which directed the Department of the Treasury to create and maintain a searchable budget database-driven website of state spending records that gives the public unprecedented access to state government for free.
• With Pennsylvania facing a significant increase in its future pension obligations, Senator Browne is leading the effort not only to develop a responsible means of funding the impending financial challenges facing these funds, but also to change the system to a more affordable 401(k)-type plan for new hires.
JOB CREATION AND BUSINESS INVESTMENT
• Senator Browne sponsored the “Pennsylvania Job Creation Act of 2006,” which initiated important tax cuts/changes to make Pennsylvania’s climate for job creators more competitive. This legislation:
1) Eliminates business taxes on the investment of new jobs, real estate and equipment in Pennsylvania.
2) Expands the use of business losses to offset future income earned by Pennsylvania business. This is crucial to allow our job creators to weather the recession as well as to promote the creation and expansion of new high tech, bio tech start up businesses in the Commonwealth.
• Senator Browne sponsored the “Neighborhood Improvement Zone Act,” which reinvests state tax dollars back into blighted industrial sites to promote greater commercial development and to expand the tax base in the city of Allentown.
• Senator Browne authored the expansion of the “Employment Incentive Payment Credit” (EIPC) to provide employers with tax credits for employing Pennsylvania citizens with mental and physical disabilities.
• Senator Browne wrote the “Small Business Jobs Investment Act,” which makes changes to tax reform code to allow for greater access to private capital by small business corporations. It also eliminates Pennsylvania’s infamous capital stock tax from single owner Limited Liability Companies and Professional Service Corporations.
• Senator Browne wrote the “School Property Tax Rebate Act,” which was the first state-sponsored property tax reduction in Pennsylvania history.
• Senator Browne wrote the law that enacted the tax cuts key to then-Governor Tom Ridge’s plan to radically improve Pennsylvania's economy and to provide quality, high-paying jobs for its citizens.
• Senator Browne wrote the “Tax Uniform Procedures Act,” which creates a tax system that is fairer and easier for both individuals and businesses to comply with. This was the first major reform of the appeals and audit section of the Tax Reform Code in 30 years.
• Senator Browne sponsored reforms to the $52 Emergency Municipal Services Tax to provide relief for workers, while ensuring that taxing entities use the revenues in a fiscally-responsible manner.
• Senator Browne authored laws that increased income tax exemptions for working families, repealed the "Widow's Tax" and eliminated taxes on retirement annuities.
• Senator Browne is co-chairing the Basic Education Funding Commission, which has been tasked with developing a new formula for distributing state funding for basic education to Pennsylvania school districts in a more fair and adequate way.
• Senator Browne co-chaired the Special Education Funding Commission that made recommendations to the General Assembly to create a new formula to distribute special education funding that takes into account the actual number of students needing specialized education services and bases the funding for those students on the degree to which they need those services.
• Senator Browne co-founded and now co-chairs the bi-cameral, bi-partisan Early Childhood Education Caucus, which supports high-quality early childhood care and education programs in Pennsylvania that promote the health and educational development of our at-risk children.
• Senator Browne wrote language included in Act 51 of 2014, which created a Basic Education Funding Commission that was charged with developing a new formula for distributing state funding for basic education.
• Senator Browne sponsored legislation that led to the creation of the Special Education Funding Commission to determine a new formula for distributing new state special education funding ensuring it effectively matches the needs of Pennsylvania students with the cost of providing those services.
• Senator Browne sponsored a measure which would simplify annual financial reporting requirements to prevent duplication with the annual audit filed by local education agencies.
• Senator Browne is the author of the statewide study to determine the basic cost per pupil to provide an education that will permit a student to meet the State's academic standards and assessments. The results of the study were used to develop the first major reform in Pennsylvania’s education funding formula in over 30 years.
• As a champion of quality education initiatives, Senator Browne served as a member of the Pennsylvania Legislative Commission on Urban Schools, whose recommendations led to the creation of the “Education Empowerment Act,” which increases school district accountability in meeting student performance standards
• Senator Browne sponsored legislation which will provide equity to our special education students in graduation ceremonies.
CHILDREN AND YOUTH
• Senator Browne wrote legislation that helped strengthen Pennsylvania’s child protection laws by recognizing that perpetrators can be as young as 18 and expanding the definition of aggravated assault in child abuse cases. In addition, it created the new offense of ‘intimidation or retaliation in child abuse cases’ which not only protects the victim, but also the reporter or witness who acts on behalf of the abused child.
• Senator Browne wrote the Safety in Youth Sports Act, which requires students showing symptoms of a concussion to be sidelined until evaluated and medically cleared by an appropriate medical professional.
• Senator Browne sponsored the “Ounce of Prevention Act,” which invests in programs that provide support for at-risk families and their newborn children.
• Senator Browne sponsored the “Child Abuse Responsibility Act,” which holds supervisors personally liable for child abuse by their employees.
• Senator Browne authored the Interstate Compact on Child Custody, which protects children in custody disputes across state lines.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
• Senator Browne authored language included in the Indoor Tanning Regulation Act, which provides safety standards and oversight of tanning facilities.
• Senator Browne wrote the law establishing the Carbon Monoxide Alarm Standards Act, which requires all newly constructed homes and certain existing homes that have fossil fuel-burning heaters or appliances and/or an attached garage to install a carbon monoxide detector.
• Senator Browne is the sponsor of the “Volunteer Continuing Medical Education Act,” which would allow physicians, dentists, dental hygienists, nurses or certified registered nurse practitioners to apply volunteer time served in a community-based health care clinic towards the completion of 20 percent of their mandatory continuing education hours required by their individual licensure boards.
• Senator Browne wrote the “Health Cost Containment Act of 2003,” which empowers patients in making health care decisions.
• Senator Browne sponsored the “Anti-Idling Act,” which aims to reduce the noise and noxious exhaust fumes of idling tractor trailers. This legislation bars commercial diesel vehicles from idling for more than five minutes during any 60-minute period.
• Senator Browne authored comprehensive amendments to Pennsylvania’s “Hazardous Materials and Emergency Response Act” to protect businesses and citizens from the potential danger of hazardous materials in their vicinity. These amendments decreased the time frame which facilities must report the presence of hazardous materials and required the creation of an emergency response perimeter around facilities.
• Senator Browne served as a member of the Legislative Commission on Prescription Drugs, which authored historic expansions to Pennsylvania’s PACE program.
• Senator Browne sponsored the “Bail Reform Act,” which would allow for the denial of bail for offenses where the maximum sentence is life imprisonment or for cases where there are no conditions other than imprisonment that will reasonably protect public safety.
• Senator Browne sponsored a provision for County Interagency Sharing of Juvenile Records, including the contents of drug and alcohol, mental health, and education records to allow for greater coordination of justice, rehabilitation and intervention services for dependent youth.
• Senator Browne sponsored the “Terrorism Victims Compensation Act,” creating a cause of action for damages for victims of terrorism.
• Senator Browne sponsored the “County Criminal Justice Investment Act,” which provides resources to counties to better manage their criminal justice system including better offender case processing and victim/witness notification.
• Senator Browne has crafted numerous other initiatives that give law enforcement the tools to fight crime and protect property and investments from fraud and abuse.
• Senator Browne authored the “Pennsylvania Prison Lawsuit Protection Act,” which secures our corrections system against frivolous prisoner lawsuits.
• Senator Browne authored multiple laws which increase protections for Pennsylvania citizens against domestic violence.
HOUSING AND FINANCE
• In the wake of the mortgage lending and foreclosure crisis, Senator Browne sponsored “The Mortgage Reform Act of 2008,” which targeted predatory and other questionable mortgage lending practices in Pennsylvania and required licensing of first and secondary mortgage originators.
• Senator Browne sponsored amendments to the “Mechanics Lien Law,” to ensure that title to residential property is not impaired by conflicts between general and subcontractors
• Senator Browne was the Republican prime sponsor on the “Lehigh Valley Gaming Revenue Sharing Act,” which allows for the first ever regional plan in the Lehigh Valley to share public revenue among the Valley’s municipal and county governments.