A report on legislative actions from the Session Week of April 28, 2020
I am pleased to send you my Session Wrap Up e-newsletter. This e-newsletter features events and legislative activities from the Session Week of April 28, 2020.
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Finance Committee Approves Measure to Aid Senior Citizens
The Senate Finance Committee, which I chair, approved a bill on Wednesday that would expedite payments from the Property Tax Rent Rebate Program and create a Senior Tax Reduction Incentive Volunteer Exchange (STRIVE) program, according to Committee Chairman Senator Scott Hutchinson (R-21)
Under House Bill 1076 , a measure introduced by Representative Tim Hennessey (R-26), Property Tax Rent Rebate claims could be paid immediately if funds are available. Under current law, claims cannot be paid prior to July 1.
STRIVE would allow school districts to establish a program benefitting taxpayers 60 years or older who provide volunteer service to the school district by granting a reduction in their property taxes. The volunteer services provided by participants in the program may not replace or supplant existing job positions and school districts would be permitted to seek private and public funding sources to support the program.
Audio from the Finance Committee meeting.
Senate Approves Bill Requiring Reporting of COVID-19 Cases
The Senate approved a bill on Wednesday that would require the state to notify local first responders of COVID-19 cases in their communities.
Senate Bill 1110 requires that when the state is under a disaster emergency, the Department of Health or local health authority must release individually identifiable health information to 911 centers, law enforcement officers, fire department personnel and emergency medical services personnel within 24 hours of receiving information of a confirmed case of a communicable disease.
The bill was amended prior to final passage to require real-time reporting of COVID-19 cases and deaths in Pennsylvania’s nursing and personal care homes and assisted living facilities. More than 60 percent of COVID-19 deaths in the Commonwealth have occurred in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and personal care homes. Pennsylvania has approximately 700 nursing homes with more than 88,000 beds and more than 1,200 licensed personal care homes serving approximately 46,500 residents.
Senate Bill 1110 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Approves Bills to Improve Day Care Safety
The Senate approved two bills on Wednesday to improve safety in state-regulated daycare facilities.
Senate Bill 934 requires the Department of Human Services to include the inspection of all smoke detectors in their annual inspection of child care facilities. Senate Bill 935 amends the state Fire and Panic Act regarding smoke detectors.
The legislation designates the locations where smoke detectors must be installed and requires that they are interconnected so that if one is triggered, they all go off. Child care facilities will be subject to legal penalties in cases where a smoke detector is found to have been tampered with or disabled. The measures were introduced in response to a tragic fire that claimed the lives of five young children in Erie last year. Only one smoke detector was found in that home and it was in the attic.
The bills now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Approves Bill Authorizing Electronic Notarizations
The Senate approved Senate Bill 1097 on Tuesday, a measure that allows for the electronic notarization of documents. Act 15 of 2020 provides for electronic notarization, but that provision expires 60 days after the COVID-19 Emergency Declaration is lifted. More than 20 states allow electronic notarization. Senate Bill 1097 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Six additional bills were approved by the Senate and sent to the House.
House Bill 360 makes 18 the minimum age for obtaining a marriage license. The bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.
Senate Bill 368 mandates real-time reporting of infants born with an opioid addiction and high susceptibility of withdrawal conditions.
Senate Bill 863 provides campground owners with certain rights, similar to the rights of hotelkeepers.
Senate Bill 1030 amends the Pennsylvania Sewage Facilities Act (Act 537).
Senate Bill 1119 provides guidance during a judicial emergency declaration.
Senate Bill 1120 provides guidance during a judicial emergency declaration.
Senate Bill 107 protects employees at non-secure youth shelters against assault and abuse.
Senate Bill 276 increases the monthly pension amounts for the Blind Veterans Pension Program and the Amputee and Paralyzed Veterans Pension Program from $150 to $180.
Senate Bill 377 increases the fine and the penalty for killing or unlawfully taking a bald or golden eagle.
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.
Senate Bill 763 provides the Department of Environmental Protection with greater flexibility in controlling the costs in meeting the data analysis report requirements outlined in the Bituminous Mine Subsidence and Land Conservation Act.
Senate Bill 915 amends the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes to set clear standards for the application of fertilizer to turf and provide for labels and labeling and the disposition of funds.
Senate Bill 952 amends the Veterans Preference Law.
Senate Bill 957 directs the Department of Military & Veterans Affairs to create logos to promote veteran-owned businesses.
House Bill 1036 amends the Borough Code to address ballot questions for a decrease in size of a borough council.
The Appropriations Committee approved two bills on Wednesday.
Senate Bill 331 creates three grants of $150,000 which would be distributed to three community colleges or State System of Higher Education universities to establish fire training programs for students in high school during the school year.
Senate Bill 959 dedicates additional Medicaid funding for ventilator and tracheostomy services.
Health & Human Services
The Senate Health & Human Services Committee approved two bills on Tuesday.
House Bill 943 creates the Consumer Prescription Drug Pricing and Freedom Disclosure Act to stop pharmacy benefit managers from barring pharmacies from informing customers when they can save money on a drug by paying with cash instead of using health insurance.
Senate Bill 1123 amends the Administrative Code to address the state Department of Health’s role in supporting county efforts to initiate COVID-19 antibody point-of-contact tests.
In addition to approving Senate Bill 1119 and Senate Bill 1120 on Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved House Bill 1538. The bill requires those individuals designated as Sexually Violent Predators to wait three years before re-applying for parole.
Rules & Executive Nominations
The Senate Rules & Executive Nominations Committee approved Senate Bill 413 on Tuesday.
The Senate Transportation Committee approved two bills on Tuesday.
House Bill 632 allows a licensed dealer or insurer to use a secure power of attorney that may be signed electronically, and does not have to be notarized, when transferring a vehicle.
Senate Bill 1128 limits the ability of the Commonwealth to suspend an operating license.