Week of October 28, 2019
In This Edition:
Senate Approves Peyton’s Law Aimed at Protecting Student Athletes
On Wednesday, the Senate gave final approval to Senate Bill 836, known as Peyton’s Law, which aims to educate every student athlete and their parents about electrocardiogram (EKG) testing to detect underlying heart conditions that can lead to Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA).
Named in honor of Peyton Walker, a young woman from Camp Hill who died of SCA at the age of 19, SB 836 calls for the inclusion of information on a warning signs sheet that parents will receive regarding EKG testing as it relates to SCA and notification that they have the option to request an EKG in addition to the standard pre-participation physical.
Julie Walker, Peyton’s Mom and the Executive Director of The Peyton Walker Foundation, was in the Senate Gallery when the vote was taken. As she stood holding a picture of Peyton, the entire Senate rose and applauded her. I have never experienced such a moment in the Senate, and it was truly an honor to be a part of it.
Regan Bill is Topic of Senate Law & Justice Committee Hearing
On Tuesday, the Senate Law and Justice Committee, which I am a member of, held a hearing on several liquor reform proposals, including Senate Bill 896, legislation I am sponsoring related to “dead” liquor licenses.
Act 39 of 2016, allows expired restaurant liquor licenses – commonly referred to as “R” licenses – to be auctioned to the highest bidder within the county where the license is located.
Unfortunately, some counties, such as Cumberland, do not have any “R” licenses left to be auctioned while other counties have available licenses that are not receiving a single bid. Also, current law requires full payment from winning bidders to be submitted within two weeks, which prevents many small businesses from being able to participate.
SB 896 establishes a statewide “excess auction” that would occur once a year for the purpose of auctioning licenses that did not receive bids during the regular auction process. Entities from all counties would be eligible to bid on the available licenses, but no more than one license would be awarded within a county per year to ensure redistribution at a rate that does not disrupt current market value of licenses.
The bill also allows for full payment within six months, rather than the current two weeks, which will encourage small or independent restaurants to participate and help diversify licensed establishments within a county.
Other bills on the hearing agenda were:
SB 880 – Allowing restaurants and hotels to apply for an expanded license to sell spirits
SB 916 – Allowing distributors to apply for an expanded license to sell spirits
SB 548 – Establishing a franchise store system for the sale of spirits and wine
HB 1617 – Providing for the conversion of hotel liquor licenses into restaurant licenses
Click here to watch video from the hearing and to read testimony from presenters.
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 required upgrades. Among its provisions, the bill would:
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 Promoting Telemedicine in Pennsylvania
The Senate approved legislation on Wednesday aimed at promoting telemedicine in Pennsylvania as a way to overcome barriers to quality patient care created by distance and reduce the costs of those services.
Senate Bill 857 defines telemedicine as “the delivery of health care services provided through telecommunications technology to a patient by a healthcare practitioner who is at a different location.” It also establishes guidelines regarding who can provide telemedicine services and provides clarity regarding insurance company reimbursement for those services.
Telemedicine can help patients get the care they need. It allows for improved access and improved health outcomes in cost effective ways. Studies show that telemedicine saves time, money, and lives. With the rapidly rising cost of healthcare, and the fact that it is nonexistent in some places, the need for telemedicine continues to grow.
Senate Bill 857 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Legislation to Protect Health Care Practitioners and Technicians Passes Senate
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.
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 several bills on Tuesday including:
Senate Bill 841 reauthorizes the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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).
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 assistance from the Auditor General.
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.
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.
The Senate reconvenes on Monday, November 18th. You can watch session live at www.senatormikereganpa.com.