Week of March 25, 2019
In this Edition:
Regan Announces State Funding For 31st District Infrastructure Projects
On Tuesday, I had the pleasure of announcing that the 31st Senatorial District has been awarded $7.85 million in state grants and low interest loans for four projects that will improve local transportation networks, pedestrian safety, and community access to recreation areas, while encouraging economic development.
The grants were awarded by the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) through its Multimodal Transportation Fund and the Business in Our Sites Grants/Loans Program, which was created as part of Pennsylvania’s 2013 Transportation Funding Plan (Act 89). The CFA was established in 2004 as an independent agency of the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) to administer Pennsylvania’s economic stimulus packages.
To read my full press release with details about the projects receiving funding, click here.
Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Holds Hearing on Converting Military Credentials into Professional Licensure
On Monday, the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, which I chair, held a hearing on the conversion of military credentials into professional licenses or certifications for veterans.
Act 23 of 2015 called on several state agencies to consider a veteran’s military education, training, and experience for the purpose of receiving possible waivers from requirements for professional credentials.
At Monday’s hearing, the Departments of Banking & Securities, Education, Insurance, Labor & Industry, Military & Veterans Affairs, State, and the State Police testified on the licenses and certifications offered under their agencies and what they are currently doing to assist veterans.
The agencies also weighed in on legislation that my colleague Senator Camera Bartolotta (R-Washington) is introducing to expand upon Act 23. I look forward to working with Senator Bartolotta to simplify the process of converting veterans’ military credentials into professional certifications or licensure.
Testifying are (from left to right): Allen McCormack (Concerned Veterans of America – PA), Matt Shafer (Council of State Governments), and Harold Cooney (Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense).
Finally, we heard from representatives of the Community College Association of PA (Community College of Allegheny County) and the PA State System of Higher Education (Indiana University of PA) about how they assist veterans enrolling in or returning to their institutions.
Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Advances Nomination of Adjutant General and Promotion of Officers
Adjutant General Anthony Carrelli being sworn in for his Confirmation Hearing.
On Tuesday, the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee held a Confirmation Hearing for Major General Anthony Carrelli to serve another term as Adjutant General of the PA Department of Military & Veterans Affairs.
A graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, General Carrelli has had a distinguished career, including service as an active duty pilot. As Adjutant General, he is responsible for command, control, and supervision of the Pennsylvania Army and Air National Guards, six state veterans homes, and programs for Pennsylvania’s more than 800,000 veterans.
General Carrelli was unanimously recommended for approval.
In addition, the Committee unanimously recommended approval of the following military officers for promotion:
*Brig. Gen. Mark D. McCormack (PA Army National Guard) – Nominated for Major General
All in all, the eight officers that came before us represented 237 years of experience. I am grateful for their service and look forward to working with them to ensure that our National Guard has everything they need to do their job both in the Commonwealth and abroad.
Brig. Gen. Mark Schindler, Brig. Gen. Michael Regan, Jr., Rep. Steve Barrar (Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee), Maj. Gen. Anthony Carrelli (Adjutant General), Col. Jeffrey Heasley, Sen. Regan, Brig. Gen. Mark McCormack, and Col. Edwards Little
Senate Approves Regan’s 911 Reauthorization Measure
The law was last updated through Act 12 of 2015 when significant changes were made to ensure that each county 911 center or public safety answering point was equipped with technology to handle and respond to calls for help, regardless of the type of device the caller is using.
Act 12 established a standardized monthly fee of $1.65 set on all communication devices and established a distribution formula for the funds with 83% going to county 911 centers, 15% designated for major statewide programs, and 2% for the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency’s (PEMA) administration of the program.
The 2015 updates also consolidated the number of call centers to 67 county-based 911 centers or public safety answering points, called for an inventory of county 911 equipment and software, established a 911 Advisory Board, and required biennial performance audits of county 911 centers.
It took some time for the 2015 law to be fully implemented, but it has been working and great progress has been made. Most notably, county 911 costs are now funded at 90% instead of 40% and county 911 centers are now more prepared to handle a call no matter what method is being used by a caller, whether it is a landline, cell phone, or even text.
Unfortunately, the current law is set to expire on June 30, 2019, hence the reason Senator Williams, the Minority Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee, and I have introduced SB 127.
In addition to extending the law by two years, our legislation would permit PEMA to purchase a system where individuals can have their disabilities associated with a phone number, so that when they call 911, the operator can better assess the situation for that individual.
Senate Bill 127 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
March as American Red Cross Month in Pennsylvania
This week, the Senate adopted Senate Resolution 61, which I introduced along with Senator Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) designating March as American Red Cross Month in Pennsylvania. On Wednesday, I participated in a press event at the Capitol for the Red Cross and to recognize its 6,000 volunteers.
As I stated at the event, our American Red Cross volunteers know no season. They are with Pennsylvanians when they lose power in a winter snowstorm, are flooded out of homes in the spring, experience a fire in the summer, or are displaced by a hurricane in the fall.
In 1995, as a U.S. Marshall, I was asked to assist with the aftermath of Hurricane Marilyn in the Virgin Islands, which resulted in 13 fatalities and $2.5 billion worth of damages. I saw the Red Cross in action then, and I continue to have the utmost respect for all they do to help Pennsylvania residents when they are facing the absolute worst circumstances.
Female Veterans Recognized
Senator Regan with Col. (R) Teresa A. Gallagher, currently employed at the New Cumberland Army Depot
On Wednesday, I attended a ceremony at the Governor’s Mansion recognizing several outstanding female veterans from across the state for their past service to our nation, as well as their current service to our veterans’ community.
I am deeply honored to serve as Chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee, which provides me many such opportunities to meet and thank our veterans.
Senate Approves Bill to Prevent Child Heatstroke Deaths in Vehicles
The Senate approved legislation on Monday that provides immunity to individuals who rescue children who have been left unattended in hot cars.
Senate Bill 49 extends “Good Samaritan” civil liability to a person who, in an effort to save a child, breaks a window or forcibly enters a locked vehicle. The bill is numbered in memory of the 49 children who died last year from vehicular heatstroke. The law would bring Pennsylvania in line with 19 other states that give immunity to bystanders who help children locked in hot vehicles.
The Senate approved additional legislation including the following:
Senate Bill 86 amends the Newborn Protection Act to add urgent care centers to the list of “safe havens” where a parent may surrender a newborn.
Senate Bill 115 provides for CPR instruction in grades 9-12.
Senate Bill 298 transfers “Stolen Valor” fines to the Pennsylvania Veterans’ Trust Fund.
A recap of activity by the Senate committees I serve on.
Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure
The Senate Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure Committee approved three bills on Wednesday.
Senate Bill 25 amends the Professional Nursing Law to provide for licensure as an advanced practice registered nurse-certified nurse practitioner (APRN-CNP), which would allow an APRN-CNP to practice independently.
Senate Bill 112 limits prescriptions for a controlled substance containing an opioid to seven days unless there is a medical emergency that puts the patients’ health or safety at risk.
Senate Bill 217 removes Philadelphia’s exemption from the Assessors Certification Act of 1992.
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved nine bills on Wednesday.
Senate Bill 123 limits parole re-application for sexually violent offenders.
Senate Bill 149 amends the state Constitution to create a crime victims’ “Bill of Rights.”
Senate Bill 337 establishes sextortion as a specific criminal offense with consequences comparable to other sexual offenses.
Senate Bill 396 prohibits the sale of electronic nicotine delivery systems and alternative nicotine products to minors.
Senate Bill 399 provides for a comprehensive bill of rights for survivors of sexual assault.
Senate Bill 425 amends Pennsylvania’s Crime Victims Act to allow victims to attend the entirety of criminal trials.
Senate Bill 431 shields rape victims from irrelevant cross examination.
Senate Bill 469 addresses testimony by those with intellectual disabilities or autism.
Senate Bill 479 expands the Tender Years Exception for out-of-court statements to include additional serious sexual offenses.
The Senate Local Government Committee approved five bills on Tuesday.
Senate Bill 110 amends the Home Rule Law to require a four-year window between attempts to change to a Home Rule municipality.
House Bill 264 adds fiscal procedures for the collection of monies by municipal authorities.
House Bill 275 changes the name of the “Early Intervention Program” under the Municipalities Financial Recovery Act to the “Strategic Management Planning Program.”
Senate Bill 316 allows newly elected Second Class Township Supervisors to attend conferences, institutes, schools and conventions prior to officially taking office.
Senate Bill 317 amends the Second Class Township Code regarding mandatory annual budget requirements.
Other Committee Action
The Senate Finance Committee approved two bills on Wednesday.
Senate Bill 83 exempts volunteer fire companies from paying sales tax on food and beverages sold for fundraising efforts.
Senate Bill 471 establishes a sales and use tax exemption for certain equipment purchased by data centers and their tenants.
The Senate Transportation Committee approved four bills on Wednesday.
Senate Bill 109 requires passengers of a vehicle to render aid to anyone injured in an accident.
Senate Bill 338 increases the allowable width for farm equipment on roads.
Senate Bill 397 designates the interchange of the Mon-Fayette Expressway, Pennsylvania Route 43 and U.S. Route 119 in Fayette County as the Senator Richard A. Kasunic Interchange.
Senate Bill 441 designates the State Route 2087 bridge over the East Branch Codorus Creek in York County as the Sgt. Christopher M. Wrinkle and Tosca Memorial Bridge.
Urban Affairs & Housing
The Senate Urban Affairs & Housing Committee approved three bills on Wednesday.
Senate Bill 30 creates a state housing tax credit.
Senate Bill 174 provides for the tax sale of abandoned properties.
Senate Bill 309 creates First-time Homebuyers Savings Accounts.
The Senate and House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committees will be holding a joint informational meeting on Monday, April 1st to review the Senate Resolution 6 (Fire & EMS) Commission Final Report.
The Senate will return to session on Monday, April 8, 2019. You can watch session live on my website.