Week of June 3, 2019
In This Edition:
Family GI Bill Passes Senate, Goes to House
On Tuesday, the Senate passed Senate Bill 589, my legislation establishing the “Pennsylvania GI Bill for Families.” This initiative will enable men and women in our National Guard to earn higher education benefits for their spouse and/or children by committing to a second enlistment of six years.
Overall, the program will provide for five years of higher education at the State System of Higher Education tuition rate. While Guard enlistment rates are steady, re-enlistment numbers are starting to drop off. When a Guard member completes their initial six year enlistment, they are likely to have started a family and a career. As such, the GI Bill for Families will help incentivize Guard members to re-up for another six years while providing a benefit not only to the member but the family that sacrifices just as much when a service member is at Guard training or deployed.
To learn more, click here.
Regan School Safety Update Advances in Senate
On Tuesday, my School Safety update legislation, Senate Bill 621, was amended on the Senate floor and was then referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday.
Many of our school districts in Pennsylvania are anxious for this legislation to pass, so they can make decisions regarding the school security personnel for next school year.
Last year’s Act 44 mistakenly omitted Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs from language allowing schools to enter into an agreement for the purpose of having a School Resource Officer. Schools within six counties, including Cumberland County, were already utilizing deputy sheriffs in this capacity prior to Act 44 and all of a sudden found themselves out of compliance with the law.
Further, the Department of Education issued their own interpretation of Act 44 with regard to armed school security personnel, specifically stating that security guards could not be armed. Once again, schools found themselves out of compliance.
The intent of the law was to enable schools to make the best decisions to ensure the safety of their students and staff, many of which already had armed security guards.
Because of both of these issues that have arisen, I introduced Senate Bill 621, which has evolved to insure all school security personnel – School Resource Officers, School Police Officers, and School Security Guards – all have a baseline level of training for the purpose of working in a school environment – and so our schools can continue protecting their students and staff at the same level they had been all along.
Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee Approves Two Bills
On Tuesday, the Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee, which I chair, took up two measures.
Senate Bill 223, sponsored by Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York), would codify into law the Physician General’s Standing Order allowing EMS providers to leave a dose of Naloxone after there is an opioid overdose. Since January 2018, when the Governor made Naloxone available to EMS to distribute under his emergency declaration, EMS providers have administered 18,560 doses of Naloxone, leaving behind 657 doses. SB 223 allows this to continue, regardless of whether or not the Governor has declared a state of emergency.
The Committee also approved House Bill 807, sponsored by Representative Frank Ryan (R-Lebanon), which makes the pay of the State Adjutant General and three National Guard Officers, be commensurate with federal base pay.
Currently, the National Guard’s Adjutant General and uniformed Deputy Adjutant Generals earn significantly less than their Federal counterparts, though they maintain the same military standards and comparable senior executive responsibilities. Additionally, the position of Deputy Adjutant General for the Army has been vacant for nearly three years, most likely due to the fact that many of the top candidates are unable to take large pay cuts to serve in the Guard rather than within the Federal military.
To watch video of the Committee meeting, click here.
Motorcyclists Rally for Legislation
On Monday, I joined members of ABATE of Pennsylvania for their annual Motorcyclist Rights Rally held in Harrisburg.
It was a pleasure to stand with colleagues and fellow riders in support of legislation, including House Bill 26, which would add motorcycles to the Automobile Lemon Law, as well as a proposal from Senator Camera Bartolotta to help prevent one of the most dangerous and preventable hazards for motorcyclists – grass clippings on roadways.
Regan Participates in Disabled American Veterans Van Drive-Away
On Tuesday, I, along with my fellow Chairs of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committees and Erik Weller, the Deputy Adjutant General for Veterans Affairs, participated in the Disabled American Veterans’ (DAV) “Van Drive-Away” at the State Capitol’s Soldiers Grove.
Across the nation, the DAV coordinates transportation for disabled veterans, providing rides from their homes to Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities. In 2018, DAV volunteers drove 1.2 million miles to transport 39,962 disabled veterans to their medical appointments.
The 2018-19 State Budget earmarked $336,000 for the DAV to purchase seven new vans, and Tuesday’s event was the official launching of the new vans into the fleet. This money was a small token of appreciation that we as legislators could provide to recognize the service and sacrifice of our veterans who have given us our freedom and protected us through thick and thin.
This service is so vital, particularly for veterans in rural areas who must travel long distances for their treatment that they so richly deserve. I commend the volunteers that drive our veterans around out of the goodness of their hearts.
To watch video of the Drive-Away event, click here.
Senate Library Unveils Exhibit Recognizing Military Service of Current and Past Senators
On Wednesday, Senator Pam Iovino and I helped unveil the Senate Library’s new Exhibit, “We Remember: Service to the State and Nation,” which highlights the military service of current and past Senators.
We recognized current Senators – Senator Ryan Aument (U.S. Army), Senator Pam Iovino (U.S. Navy), Senator Bob Mensch (U.S. Army Reserves, Engineers), Senator Gene Yaw (U.S. Army), and incoming Senator-Elect Doug Mastriano (U.S. Army).
We also recognized former Senator John Pippy (U.S. Army, 1992-2004, & PA National Guard, 2004-Present), the family of Senator Thomas V. Cooper (U.S. Army, 1861-1864), the family of Senator Freeman Hankins (U.S. Army, 1945-1946), and the family of Senator Jeanette Reibman (U.S. War Department and U.S. War Production Board, 1940-1944).
The Exhibit will be on display in the Senate Library until September 17, 2019. I encourage you to plan a visit to the Capitol and to stop by the Senate Library while you are in the building.
To watch my floor remark, click here.
Senate Approves Criminal Justice Reform Measures
The Senate approved a bipartisan package of criminal justice reforms on Wednesday that will reduce prison and probation costs, better protect crime victims and strengthen public safety.
Senate Bill 500 creates a County Adult Probation and Parole Advisory Committee to help counties better assess the unique risks and needs of probationers to reduce incarceration and cut costs to taxpayers.
Senate Bill 501 streamlines the placement of offenders in drug treatment programs and other intermediate punishment programs, and improve and expedite the parole process for non-violent offenders.
Senate Bill 502 improves communications with crime victims and ensure they receive any compensation they are owed.
The bills build on the success of Justice Reinvestment Initiative measures approved in 2012 to reduce prison costs to taxpayers and reinvest the savings in programs to improve public safety. Over the past six years, the inmate population in state prisons has been reduced by more than 4,000, and the crime rate has decreased by approximately 18 percent, saving $400 million in projected costs to taxpayers.
Senate Passes Price Gouging Act Fix
Senate Bill 139 amends the Pennsylvania Price Gouging Act to ensure that a Governor’s emergency declaration does not place an undue and unnecessary burden on operations and businesses outside of and unrelated to the disaster.
Current law is in place to prevent price gouging during a state of emergency that would typically be declared after a natural disaster, for example, where necessities such as bottled water are scarce and in demand. Unfortunately, with the Governor’s ongoing emergency declaration for the opioid crisis, businesses are limited in their ability to raise prices on certain products simply because of the price gouging law as it relates to emergency declarations.
Bill Expanding CPR Training in Schools Sent to Governor
The Senate gave final approval on Tuesday to a bill aimed at saving lives through greater education and training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
Senate Bill 115 would strengthen academic guidelines in schools for CPR training in grades nine through 12, while adding hands-only CPR instruction to Pennsylvania’s education curriculum. The bill now goes to the governor for his signature.
Other bills sent to the Governor this week include:
House Bill 275, which changes the name of the “Early Intervention Program” under the Municipalities Financial Recovery Act to the “Strategic Management Planning Program.”
Senate Bill 441, which 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.
The Senate reconvenes on Monday, June 10th at 1pm and will also convene on Tuesday and Wednesday at 11am. You can watch session live on my website: www.senatormikereganpa.com