Pa. pension bill to move ahead despite injured Browne’s absence

    Sen. Pat Browne is expected to make a full recovery after a weekend motorcycle accident landed him in the hospital – and, potentially, in trouble with local authorities.

    Jennifer Kocher, spokeswoman for the Senate GOP, said it’s not clear if — or when — Browne will return to his duties as chairman of the Appropriations Committee after sustaining injuries to his lung, ribs, and foot.

    “We haven’t heard any prognosis at this point,” Kocher said Tuesday.

    Browne’s colleagues say his absence is significant, with just two months remaining until the state budget deadline. Sen. Vincent Hughes, D-Philadelphia, noted Browne of Lehigh County is one of the “more moderate” Republican leaders, and is known for taking on heavy policy lifts.

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    “He gets involved in some meaty stuff, and I think he’s developed a level of respect for that by both sides,” said Hughes.

    Browne had already briefed GOP colleagues on the budget as well as proposed state pension changes, an effort he was spearheading. Kocher said the measure is on track to be introduced within days and considered by the full Senate next week.

    Browne’s accident is under investigation by Allentown police as a possible case of driving-under-the-influence. He was charged with DUIs twice in the 1990s.

    Kocher said leaders have not considered whether Browne could lose his leadership post if he is charged.

    “We’ll cross that bridge if we come to it,” said Kocher. “Right now we’re focused on his health.”

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