Week of November 18, 2019
In this Edition:
Special Announcement: Regan Offices are Toys for Tots Drop-Off Locations
As we head into the holiday season, I welcome you to stop by one of my three offices with new, unwrapped toys for children in our area that are less fortunate.
Veterans Affairs Committee Advances Several Military & Veterans Bills
With the Country having just observed Veterans Day last week, I was pleased to convene a meeting of the Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee on Wednesday to put forth a bipartisan package of bills that furthers our support for the men and women that have honorably served our Nation. All five of the following bills were approved and sent to the full Senate for consideration.
Senate Bill 276 increases the monthly pension amounts for the Blind Veterans Pension Program and the Amputee and Paralyzed Veterans Pension Program.
House Bill 630 provides employment protections to Pennsylvania residents who are members of a National Guard or Reserve unit in another state.
Senate Bill 952, which I prime-sponsored, updates the Veterans Preference Law.
Senate Bill 957 directs the Department of Military & Veterans Affairs to create logos to promote service veteran-owned businesses.
House Bill 1050 guarantees in-state tuition rates for reassigned military families.
Click here to read more.
BILLS SENT TO THE GOVERNOR
Online Firefighter Training
A measure that will make firefighter training more accessible and affordable through online courses was sent to the Governor on Monday. Senate Bill 146, which originally came through the Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee, ensures that online training would be voluntary and free to both career and volunteer firefighters. All available courses would be listed online, and developed under the leadership of the state Fire Commissioner.
Job Training Opportunities
A bill that will expand the availability of job training programs and make it easier for students to receive financial aid received final legislative approval on Monday and was sent to the Governor for enactment into law.
Senate Bill 456 allows career and technical colleges and trade schools to open a branch campus in neighboring counties or any other location within 60 miles of their main campus. Currently, those schools can only establish a branch campus in the same county as the primary campus without securing another independent license for an out-of-county location. Senate Bill 456 also gives those schools the ability to provide direct institutional grants to students.
Legislation allowing hunting on three Sundays received final legislative approval on Monday and was sent to the Governor’s desk. Senate Bill 147 provides for hunting on three Sundays: one during rifle deer season, one during the statewide archery deer season, and one on a Sunday determined by the Game Commission. The bill also provides that written permission of the landowner is required to hunt on private property on any of the Sundays being added to the expanded Sunday hunting provisions.
Abortions Based on Down Syndrome Diagnosis
The Senate approved House Bill 321 on Wednesday prohibiting the abortion of babies based solely on a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome, and the Governor vetoed the bill yesterday. Similar protections already exist to prevent babies from being aborted based solely on their gender. The bill does not interfere with the existing ability of a woman to obtain an abortion in cases of rape, incest or endangerment to the mother.
New Protections for Sexual Abuse Survivors
The Senate approved a package of bills this week to support survivors of sexual abuse, addressing recommendations of a grand jury investigation that was released last year. The bills include:
House Bill 962, which would eliminate the criminal statute of limitations for the sexual abuse of a child, as well as associated crimes such as human trafficking. The bill also extends the deadline for civil actions from age 30 to age 55.
House Bill 963, which would amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to create a two-year window for retroactive lawsuits from victims whose statute of limitations has already expired. The legislation addresses concerns lawmakers raised last year about whether the two-year window was unconstitutional.
House Bill 1051, which clarifies mandatory reporting standards for suspected cases of abuse and increases penalties for mandated reporters who continue to fail to report suspected child abuse.
House Bill 1171, which ensures survivors who sign non-disclosure statements are not prohibited from speaking with law enforcement regarding their abuse.
Other bills sent to the Governor this week include:
House Bill 17, which establishes a 10-year time period for the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue to collect assessed personal income taxes.
House Bill 49, which reinstates arrest powers for school police officers and extends the training deadline for school security personnel.
House Bill 227, which clarifies that school director candidates will only be required to submit 10 signatures for nomination.
Senate Bill 473, which increases the minimum legal sales age for tobacco products to 21 years of age.
Senate Bill 572, which establishes a procedure for prescribers to enter into treatment agreements with a patient prior to prescribing an opioid treatment course for chronic pain.
House Bill 754, which ensures that PACE and PACENET enrollees will not lose their benefits if they exceed the maximum income limit due solely to a Social Security cost-of-living adjustment.
House Bill 947, which expands the hours of operation for breweries, distilleries and limited distilleries.
House Bill 1203, which requires that the annual audit of an authority must comply with state and federal standards and allows the incorporating municipality to review the authority’s finances.
House Bill 1402, which amends the Crimes Code to add a new offense of sexual extortion.
House Bill 1410, which amends the Transit Revitalization Investment District Act by providing for military installation remediation and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances remediation.
House Bill 1772, which allows a property owner to use identifying purple paint marks on trees or posts to provide notice not to trespass on the property.
BILLS SENT TO THE HOUSE
Pediatric Cancer Research Tax Credit
Pediatric cancer research hospitals could benefit from up to $100 million in new private donations under a bill approved by the Senate on Tuesday. Senate Bill 74 would create a tax credit program for qualifying donations made to a Pennsylvania pediatric cancer research hospital. Credits would be limited to $10 million per year over the next 10 years. According to the American Cancer Society, more children die from cancer than any other disease. However, the National Cancer Institute spends just 4 percent of its research dollars on pediatric cancer.
Minimum Wage Increase
The Senate approved legislation on Wednesday that would phase in a higher minimum wage over the next three years. Senate Bill 79 would increase the current $7.25 minimum wage rate incrementally to $9.50 by January 2022. Currently, Pennsylvania is one of 21 states whose minimum wage is set at the federal minimum.
Senate Bills 74 and 79 now go to the House of Representatives for consideration, along with the following:
Senate Bill 60, which addresses human trafficking.
Senate Bill 67, which authorizes the adoption of the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact to allow for tele-psychological practice across state lines and temporary in-person services.
Senate Bill 327, which requires state agencies to report their space usage to the Department of General Services on an annual basis.
Senate Bill 596, which establishes the Pennsylvania Clean Transportation Infrastructure Act to create an electric charging station network across the state.
Senate Bill 637, which ensures criminal records do not automatically preclude an applicant seeking an occupational license from the state.
Senate Bill 842, which will allow for the omission of health care workers’ last names from their identification badges.
Senate Bill 906, which institutes a moratorium on the closing of the Polk and White Haven State Centers.
Aging & Youth
The Senate Aging & Youth Committee approved two bills on Monday.
Senate Bill 368 mandates real-time reporting of infants born with an opioid addiction and high susceptibility of withdrawal conditions.
House Bill 1051 increases the offense of willfully failing to report suspected child abuse by a mandated reporter when it is a “continuing course of action” from a first-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony.
Banking & Insurance
The Senate Banking & Insurance Committee approved two bills on Tuesday.
House Bill 427 provides health insurance coverage requirements for stage four, advanced metastatic cancer.
Senate Bill 595 provides insurance coverage for breast density screenings.
Communications & Technology
The Senate Communications & Technology Committee approved Senate Bill 810 on Tuesday. The bill consolidates the administration and management of the Commonwealth’s information technology under the Office of Information Technology.
Community, Economic & Recreational Development
The Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee approved House Bill 1045 on Tuesday. The bill requires the Commonwealth Financing Authority board to meet the second Tuesday of every other month, beginning with January, rather than at the call of the chairperson.
The Senate Education Committee approved House Bill 355 on Tuesday. The bill amends the Public School Code regarding ethics and transparency requirements for charter schools.
Environmental Resources & Energy
The Senate Environmental Resources & Energy Committee approved three bills on Tuesday.
House Bill 476 amends the Solid Waste Management Act to require the Department of Environmental Protection to notify municipalities when certain violations occur.
Senate Bill 679 directs the Environmental Quality Board to develop regulations that authorize counties to adopt a program for stream cleaning and maintenance and the removal of obstructions and flood-related hazards from local waterways.
Senate Bill 766 updates the state’s household hazardous waste collection program.
The Senate Finance Committee approved two bills on Tuesday.
House Bill 1100 establishes the Energy and Fertilizer Manufacturing Tax Credit program.
House Bill 1982 allows participating employers in SERS to pre-fund all or a portion of their “unfunded actuarial liability.”
Game & Fisheries
The Senate Game & Fisheries Committee approved House Bill 1772 on Tuesday. The bill allows a property owner to use identifying purple paint marks on trees or posts to provide notice not to trespass on the property.
The Game & Fisheries Committee approved four bills on Wednesday.
House Bill 102 provides for expanded availability of hunter education courses in public schools.
Senate Bill 377 increases the fine and the penalty for killing or unlawfully taking a bald or golden eagle.
House Bill 584 provides an exemption from fishing license requirements for therapeutic recreation programs.
House Bill 617 provides for a discounted hunting license for volunteer Hunter Trapper Education instructors.
Health & Human Services
The Senate Health & Human Services Committee approved five bills on Monday.
House Bill 321 prohibits an abortion based solely on a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome.
Senate Bill 606 provides for the authority to prescribe or personally furnish antibiotics to treat sexually transmitted infections in a patient’s partner.
House Bill 1001 establishes the Keystone Mothers’ Milk Bank Act and sets standards for licensure and regulation of human milk banks.
House Bill 1058 establishes the Compassion and Care for Medically Challenging Pregnancies Act.
House Bill 1662 amends the Methadone Death and Incident Review Act to include deaths and incidents attributable to any medication approved for the treatment of opioid use disorder and renames it the Medication Death and Incident Review Act.
Labor & Industry
The Senate Labor & Industry Committee approved three bills on Monday.
Senate Bill 79 incrementally increases the minimum wage.
House Bill 422 creates an “on-the-job” trainee classification for each building code official certification.
Senate Bill 594 requires employers who have a certified safety committee as part of their workers’ compensation program to include information about the risks associated with the use of opioids.
The Senate State Government Committee approved four measures on Monday.
Senate Resolution 179 urges Congress to make daylight savings time permanent in the United States.
Senate Bill 417 requires successful write-in candidates receive at least the same number of votes as would be required to file nomination petitions.
Senate Bill 779 moves Pennsylvania’s Presidential primary election day to the third Tuesday of March.
House Bill 1896 authorizes the release of a use restriction and reversionary interest affecting land in East Vincent Township, Chester County.
The Senate Transportation Committee approved Senate Bill 954 on Tuesday. The bill reinstates the requirement for registration stickers on license plates.
The Transportation Committee approved Senate Bill 773 on Thursday. The bill increases penalties for those who have multiple DUI convictions and targets offenders who repeatedly drive drunk with high Blood Alcohol Content levels in their systems.
December 12th, I will be holding my sixth and final roundtable on the topic of Veterans Suicide. The event will be held in the Lehigh Valley, and will be livestreamed. Follow me on Facebook to tune in.
The Senate will reconvene on Wednesday, December 18, 2019.
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