Senator Scott Hutchinson E-Newsletter

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Harrisburg Happenings

A report on legislative actions from the Session Week of October 28, 2019

Dear Friend,

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 October 28, 2019.

If you find this e-newsletter useful, I invite you to visit my website www.senatorscotthutchinson.com for more information about your state government. If you do not wish to receive these e-newsletters, please click the “unsubscribe” button at the bottom of the page. If you would like to contact my office, please go to my website and click the “contact” button. Please do not “reply” directly to this e-mail.

Sincerely,

Scott

Senate Recognizes International Data Center Day

10/29/19 – International Data Center Day in PA

The Senate adopted Senate Resolution 264 on Tuesday. This Resolution, which I introduced, recognized October 29, 2019 as International Data Center Day in Pennsylvania.

International Data Center Day is designed to create awareness of the data center industry and to inspire the next generation of talent and provides the industry an opportunity to open their doors and show, in a collaborative effort, what data centers are, why they are so important to our connected world, and the wide array of career opportunities that are part of the data center industry.

I have seen firsthand the impact the data center industry can have on a community. Iron Mountain, a data center located in Boyers, has provided high-quality family sustaining jobs to many in our area. This data center, and others like it, will be a staple of tomorrow’s economy.

Introducing a Special Guest in the Senate

10/29/19 – Introduction of Royale Jadyn Reno-Gaus

I was pleased to introduce Royale Jadyn Reno-Gaus, a student at the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, to the Senate on Tuesday.

Comprehensive Election Code Modernization Sent to Governor

The Senate sent legislation to the Governor on Tuesday that will bring the most comprehensive changes to Pennsylvania’s election laws in more than eight decades.

Senate Bill 421 also provides $90 million in funding to replace county voting machines, boosting election security and ensuring that local taxpayers do not have to pick up the tab for the required upgrades. Among its provisions, the bill would:

  • Extend the deadline for absentee ballots, from the Friday before Election Day until 8 p.m. on Election Day.
  • Push back the voter registration deadline from 30 days before an election to 15 days.
  • Allow voters to request and submit an absentee ballot by mail without providing a reason.
  • Create a permanent mail-in voter list.
  • Eliminate antiquated straight-party voting, something that 40 states have already done.

Other bills receiving final legislative approval and sent to the Governor this week include:

House Bill 374, which establishes the Keystone Tree Restricted Account and allows for $3 contributions to the account when electronically renewing a driver’s license.

House Bill 407, which provides a standard definition for the term “blighted property.”

House Bill 510, which amends Title 53 (Municipalities Generally) regarding intergovernmental cooperation.

House Bill 511, which amends the Second Class Township Code, providing for intergovernmental cooperation.

House Bill 512, which amends Title 11 (Cities) providing for municipal authorities and cooperation with other political subdivisions.

Senate Bill 694, which allows gas well bores to cross multiple units provided that the operator has the right to drill wells on the units.

House Bill 1016, which describes the conditions under which the state Insurance Commissioner may declare a domestic society to be in a hazardous condition and may take actions and sets a process to liquidate fraternal benefit societies.

Senate Approves Bill to Protect Health Care Practitioners and Technicians

The Senate voted on Monday to extend new protections to members of the healthcare community by increasing the penalty for an assault on a health care practitioner, while in the performance of duty, from a misdemeanor to a second degree felony.

Existing state law already provides stiffer penalties for assaults against EMS personnel, including doctors, residents, nurses, paramedics and other members of the health care community. Senate Bill 351 extends the same protections to a broader range of health care practitioners, including social workers, pharmacists, audiologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, athletic trainers, dietitian-nutritionists, massage therapists, optometrists, podiatrists, physician assistants and respiratory therapists.

A number of health care technicians are also covered by the bill, such as cardiac device specialists, diagnostic medical sonographers, cardiac sonographers, exercise physiologists, vascular technologists, pharmacy technicians and physical therapy aides.

Senate Votes to Strengthen Older Adult Protective Services

Legislation to better protect Pennsylvania’s senior citizen population by overhauling the Older Adult Protective Services Act (OAPSA) was approved by the Senate on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 819 amends the OAPSA to address the rise of financial exploitation of older Pennsylvanians by giving financial institutions tools to intervene if they suspect an elder is being victimized. The measure provides mandatory reporters (physicians, health care providers and police) with a procedure for reporting suspected physical abuse and gives them the tools to work together during the investigation process.

Bill to Prevent Student Athlete Sudden Cardiac Arrest Deaths Advances

The Senate approved legislation on Wednesday to help student athletes and their parents take steps to prevent Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). Senate Bill 836 would inform student athletes and their parents about the importance of electrocardiogram (EKG) testing to detect underlying heart conditions that can lead to SCA. The measure also would ensure they are notified of the option to request an EKG in addition to the standard physical examination.

Currently, student athletes and parents receive an SCA symptoms and warning signs information sheet each school year, which must be signed and returned prior to participation in athletic activities.

Eight additional bills were approved by the Senate this week and sent to the House for consideration.

Senate Bill 320 enacts the Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act.

Senate Bill 332 increases the service charge for bad checks.

Senate Bill 352 provides local taxing authorities with the option to designate deteriorated areas within their communities and offer an incentive to developers and property owners who are approved to rebuild or improve the blighted property.

Senate Bill 841 reauthorizes the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council.

Senate Bill 905 is the Fiscal Year 2019-20 Capital Budget Project Itemization Act.

Senate Bill 919 establishes statewide uniform requirements restricting the use of Class B firefighting foams containing added PFAS chemistries for training, restricting their use in testing, while also allowing for continued sale and use against real-world fires.

Committee Roundup

Appropriations

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved seven bills on Monday.

Senate Bill 67 addresses the adoption of the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact to allow for tele-psychological practice across state lines and temporary in-person services.

House Bill 305 directs the Department of General Services to include, in its surveys and inventories of Commonwealth real estate structures and assets, information on the possible use of such assets for fixed or mobile broadband services.

Senate Bill 327 requires executive, independent and state-affiliated agencies to report their space usage to the Department of General Services on an annual basis.

Senate Bill 352 provides local taxing authorities with the option to designate deteriorated areas within their communities and offer an incentive to developers and property owners who are approved to rebuild or improve the blighted property.

House Bill 374 establishes the Keystone Tree Restricted Account and allows for $3 contributions to the account when electronically renewing a driver’s license.

Senate Bill 905 is the Fiscal Year 2019-20 Capital Budget Project Itemization Act.

House Bill 1016 describes the conditions under which the state Insurance Commissioner may declare a domestic society to be in a hazardous condition and may take actions and sets a process to liquidate fraternal benefit societies.

The Appropriations Committee approved six bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 836 amends Act 59 to require information be provided to student athletes regarding electrocardiogram testing and that they be notified of the option to request an electrocardiogram.

Senate Bill 841 reauthorizes the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council.

Senate Bill 857 promotes telemedicine in Pennsylvania.

Senate Bill 906 institutes a moratorium on the closing of the Polk and White Haven State Centers.

Senate Bill 919 establishes statewide uniform requirements restricting the use of Class B firefighting foams containing added PFAS chemistries for training, restricting their use in testing, while also allowing for continued sale and use against real-world fires.

House Bill 1410 amends the Transit Revitalization Investment District Act (Act 238 of 2004) by providing for military installation remediation and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances remediation.

Banking & Insurance

The Senate Banking & Insurance Committee approved Senate Bill 857 on Monday. The bill promotes telemedicine in Pennsylvania.

Community, Economic & Recreational Development

The Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee approved three bills on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 570 provides additional funding for distressed municipalities under Act 47.

Senate Bill 784 makes several changes to the Small Games of Chance Act.

House Bill 1325 provides for an evaluation for a gambling disorder for individuals who are charged with criminal trespass and violate the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board self-exclusion list.

Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure

The Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure Committee approved three bills on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 596 establishes the Pennsylvania Clean Transportation Infrastructure Act.

Senate Bill 637 creates a set of rules for consideration of criminal records in occupational licensure.

Senate Bill 640 authorizes the Commonwealth to join the interstate Physical Therapist Compact.

Education

The Senate Education Committee approved two bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 530 requires that a student who is convicted or adjudicated delinquent of sexual assault to be removed from the school building, if they are enrolled in the same school as the victim.

Senate Bill 850 establishes the Community Integrated Schools for Success pilot program. 

Finance

The Senate Finance Committee approved Senate Bill 931 on Wednesday. The bill would allow participating employers in the State Employee Retirement System to pre-fund all or a portion of their “unfunded actuarial liability.”

Health & Human Services

The Senate Health & Human Services Committee approved Senate Bill 841 on Monday. The bill reauthorizes the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council.

Judiciary

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved four bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 647 allows for a $5 surcharge to be added to DUI fines to provide additional funding to the State Police for the training of state and local Drug Recognition Experts.

Senate Bill 902 amends the County Code to clarify succession for a First Assistant District Attorney upon a vacancy of the office of District Attorney in Fourth through Eighth Class counties.

Senate Bill 924 provides for guardianship of medically disabled adult children.

House Bill 1402 amends the Crimes Code to add a new offense of sexual extortion.

Labor & Industry

The Senate Labor & Industry Committee approved four bills on Tuesday.

House Bill 68 amends the Unemployment Compensation Law to extend the time for an employer to request relief from charges from 15 to 21 days.

House Bill 280 amends the Unemployment Compensation Law to increase the time allotted for parties to appeal the determination of an Unemployment Compensation Service Center and the decision of an Unemployment Compensation referee from 15 days to 21 days.

House Bill 1522 amends the Child Labor Act to modify volunteer junior firefighter training requirements.

House Bill 1537 amends the Unemployment Compensation Law to provide additional flexibility for the scheduled drawdown of dollars allocated for the Benefit Modernization project.

The Labor & Industry Committee approved Senate Bill 922 on Wednesday. The bill clarifies language in the Worker’s Compensation Act in light of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision in Whitmoyer v. WCAB (Mt. Country Meats).

Local Government

The Senate Local Government Committee approved House Bill 1203 on Tuesday. The bill requires that the annual audit of an authority comply with state and federal standards and allows the incorporating municipality to request additional audits. 

Rules & Executive Nominations

The Senate Rules & Executive Nominations Committee approved Senate Bill 733 on Monday. The bill provides for the Pennsylvania Gaming Economic Development and Tourism Fund Capital Budget for 2019.

The Rules & Executive Nominations Committee approved two bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 421 modernizes Pennsylvania’s election process.

Senate Bill 694 allows gas well bores to cross multiple units provided the operator has the right to drill wells on the units.

State Government

The Senate State Government Committee approved three measures on Tuesday.

House Bill 57 disbands various outdated boards, commissions, committees and other entities.

Senate Resolution 153 urges Congress to ratify the United-States-Mexico-Canada Agreement on trade.

Senate Bill 895 conveys property in Benner Township, Centre County to the Centre County Industrial Development Corporation.

Transportation

The Senate Transportation Committee approved four bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 132 waives the duplicate driver license fee for veterans.

Senate Bill 489 provides a reduction in license plate registration fees for veterans.

Senate Bill 858 reduces transfers from the Motor License Fund to the State Police.

Senate Bill 927 addresses the verification process for a veteran’s designation on driver licenses.

The Transportation Committee approved House Bill 1547 on Wednesday. The bill renames several highways and bridges.

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