Proposed changes to PIAA playoff and transfer rules / Changes in emission test rules

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St. Joseph Prep’s Justin Montague holds the championship trophy after a PIAA, Class AAAA championship football game against Pine-Richland in Hershey, Pa. on Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014. St Joseph won 49-41. (AP Photo/Ralph Wilson)

What to look for on Smart Talk, Monday, June 17, 2019:

A 1972 Pennsylvania law requires the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) to accept private schools as members. For decades, the PIAA has contended that the law thus prohibits holding separate playoff tournaments for private and public schools.

Yet, as private schools have continued to dominate state playoffs in a variety of sports, many public schools have urged separating the playoffs to level the playing field between schools that can recruit and schools that have fixed geographic boundaries.

State Representative Aaron Bernstine introduced legislation last week that he says addresses these issues. House Bill 1600 would require the PIAA to institute separate tournaments for public and private schools (charter schools would be considered public schools), eliminate many restrictions on students transferring, and create a final “crossover game” between the winners of the public and private tournaments.

While the bill enjoys support from the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, PIAA Executive Director Robert Lombardi called the legislation an “end around” in a statement last week.

Joining Smart Talk to discuss the bill and its implications on high school athletics in Pennsylvania is Rep. Aaron Bernstine.

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Rep. Aaron Bernstine (R – Beaver County, Butler County and Lawrence County)

Also, last Wednesday, the Senate Transportation Committee approved a bill on a party-line vote that would lift the requirement for annual emissions inspections on vehicles for up to eight years after the vehicle was manufactured. Emissions test cost an average of about $40 and are required in 25 Pennsylvania counties.

Opponents worry that the bill could jeopardize $420 million in annual federal funding that Pennsylvania receives under the Clean Air Act. In other states, the Environmental Protection Agency has granted waivers of the emissions testing requirement.

Appearing on Smart Talk to discuss the legislation and Pennsylvania’s air quality are Senator Kim Ward, Chair of the Transportation Committee, and Joe Minott, Executive Director and Chief Counsel for the Pennsylvania Clean Air Council.

CORRECTION: Construction of vehicle emission testing facilities was approved by the legislature during the Gov. Robert Casey Administration in 1993. Gov. Tom Ridge’s Administration reached a settlement with Envirotest Systems end the program. That settlement resulted in Pennsylvania paying Envirotest millions of dollars. We regret not making that clear during Smart Talk.