HARRISBURG - Pension reform, gambling, and even the controversial issues of abortion, immigration, and guns could be on the legislative agenda as state lawmakers return to the Capitol on Monday for a handful of voting days before the Nov. 8 election.
The three days this week and three days the following week could be the last chance for legislation in the 2015-16 session, which ends Nov. 30.
"These next six days of session are our last opportunity to get something done in this session," Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R., Centre) said.
An effort to reduce future risk to taxpayers from the retirement plans for state and public school workers was one of the major issues left unresolved earlier this year, after the Senate in December approved one version of changes to retirement benefits for future employees and the House in June approved another.
Both Corman and House Majority Leader Dave Reed (R., Indiana) said last week that they have been engaged in talks about a potential proposal. They said they were not sure whether pension legislation could be brought up for a vote this week.
"That's dependent upon how quickly all sides agree and how quickly the drafting of any such proposal would be done," Reed said Friday. "Our hope is to try to be in that position within the next two weeks."
Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa and House Minority Leader Frank Dermody, both Allegheny County Democrats, said they would seek to preserve retirement security for workers.
Gambling laws also will be a topic of discussion, as legislators try to find revenue they included in the current state budget from a yet-unresolved proposal to expand gambling, and also to address a recent state Supreme Court decision that struck down the municipal portion of a tax most casinos pay on their slot-machine earnings.
There are a number of other high-profile issues that could receive votes in the remaining session days.
Corman said Senate leaders are considering what to do with a House bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, with some exceptions, sooner than the current 24-week restriction.
"We're still looking at that, and seeing what our options are," he said, noting that the bill could be amended or voted on in its current form.
The House Republican and Democratic leaders, Reed and Dermody, said discussions are continuing on what to do about a bill that would eliminate the statute of limitations on criminal charges for the sexual abuse of children and broaden the time frame for filing lawsuits. The House had approved the bill with a provision to retroactively extend to age 50 the deadline for victims to file lawsuits, but that was removed in the Senate.
The House is scheduled to vote Monday on a bill that would target a policy in Philadelphia of giving sanctuary to undocumented immigrants. The proposal would bar municipalities from limiting communication between their employees and federal officials about the immigration status of people in the state.
Senate leaders said there could be a vote on a proposal that would allow gun owners and membership groups to challenge local firearm restrictions in court and be awarded legal expenses if they win.
Jeffrey Sheridan, spokesman for Gov. Wolf, said the governor's priority is a package of bills intended to address the state's heroin and opioid addiction crisis. Proposals under consideration would require doctors to check a prescription monitoring system each time they prescribe opioid medications and limit prescriptions to emergency room patients and to minors.