In this Edition:
Senate Approves Mensch Resolution Recognizing “Community College Completion Week” in Pennsylvania
The Senate unanimously adopted my resolution that designates the week of October 16, 2017 as “Community College Completion Week” in Pennsylvania. He is co-chair of the bi-partisan Community College Caucus.
The vision of Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges is to increase the workforce readiness skills and educational attainment level of Pennsylvanians to create a productive workforce and vibrant economy. These community colleges embrace the comprehensive mission of what it means to be a community college: to provide high-quality, affordable and accessible higher education and workforce training.
There are many benefits to earning a community college degree or certificate. Students with a degree or certificate regularly earn $250k more over a lifetime than someone with only a high school degree.
Welfare Reform Bill Sent to Governor
Legislation targeting fraud, waste and abuse in Pennsylvania’s public welfare system was signed in the Senate and House this week and sent to the Governor.
House Bill 59, a comprehensive Human Services Code bill, includes reforms that are projected to save hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ dollars. The measure also addresses Pennsylvania’s opioid crisis by requiring the Department of Human Services to submit a federal waiver so federal dollars can be used for opioid addiction treatment after 15 days of inpatient treatment, which is currently prohibited. It also extends provider submissions for child welfare placement costs, preserving nearly $31 million in federal Title IV-E placement maintenance funds.
Additional Measures Set for Enactment
House Bill 16 amends the Local Tax Collection Law to prohibit tax payments to an account in an individual’s name and requires the creation of a separate account to be used solely for tax purposes.
House Bill 176 exempts roadside agricultural stands from the Uniform Construction Code.
House Bill 1287 is a land conveyance bill.
House Bill 1288 adds optometrists to the list of medical providers who may certify an application for a disability placard or registration plate.
Senate Approves Legislation to Combat Opioid Addiction
The Senate approved legislation on Wednesday combating the state’s growing opioid addiction crisis.
Senate Bill 472 limits the prescription for a controlled substance containing an opioid to seven days unless there is a medical emergency that puts the patient’s health or safety at risk. The bill also requires prescribers to discuss the risks of addiction and dangers of overdoses associated with the medication with the patient or family.
The bill is the latest of a number of measures approved by the Senate in recent years that focus on heroin and opioid addiction. Senate Bill 472 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Bill to Make Grants for Distance Education Permanent Approved by Senate
The Senate on Tuesday approved legislation I’m co-sponsoring that would permanently allow for distance education to be included in the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) State Grant Program.
In 2013, the General Assembly approved legislation creating a five year pilot program permitting students who take the majority of their courses online to apply for PHEAA grants. Senate Bill 53 would make the pilot program permanent.
Senate Acts to Improve Disabled Parking Access
Legislation I’m co-sponsoring to improve accessibility and strengthen enforcement measures of parking spaces for persons with disabilities was approved by the Senate on Tuesday.
Senate Bill 888 would address deficiencies in current law pertaining to penalties and enforcement of parking spaces for persons with disabilities. Under the legislation, violators who illegally park in parking spaces or block access aisles designated for persons with disabilities will be subject to towing, charged with a summary offense and susceptible to increased fines.
A key provision creates parking regulations for access aisles. In order to accommodate vehicles equipped with ramps, wheelchair lifts and other devices, parking spaces that are designated for persons with disabilities include access aisles, generally marked with diagonal lines adjoining the space. These parking spaces and access aisles are necessary to improve mobility for persons with disabilities to access medical appointments, shopping centers and other locations.
Additional Bills Approved by the Senate and Sent to the House
Senate Bill 499 would allow the Board of Prison Inspectors in Eighth Class counties to meet less frequently.
Senate Bill 552 redirects funds from the Veterans Trust Fund that came from the Pennsylvania Monuments License Registration Plate to the new Pennsylvania Veterans' Monuments and Memorial Trust Fund and would require those funds be used for the operation and maintenance of monuments designated by Department of Military & Veterans Affairs in consultation with the State Veterans’ Commission.
Senate Bill 663 amends the Uniform Construction Code Act to require a municipality to contract with at least three third party agencies.
Senate Bill 728 exempts Schedule V epilepsy drugs currently included in the state’s prescription drug monitoring program requirements.
House Bill 790 establishes the Controlled Plant and Noxious Weed Act to provide for the regulation of noxious weeds and controlled plants and repeals the Noxious Weed Control Law. The bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.
Senate Bill 887 is a highway renaming bill.
Mensch Chairs Hearing on State Police Coverage of Municipalities
The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Infrastructure, Environment and Government Operations held a public hearing Tuesday on municipal coverage by the Pennsylvania State Police. The hearing focused on how to pay for the coverage State Police provide to Pennsylvania municipalities without local police departments. The panel heard from law enforcement testifiers, and will feature testimony from municipalities at a future date.
Legislative Budget and Finance Committee
The Legislative Budget and Finance Committee, which I chair, met Wednesday to release two reports: A review of the PA One Call System, and An Assessment of Fees Charged by PA County Recorders of Deeds.
The Legislative Budget and Finance Committee is a bipartisan legislative service agency that conducts studies and make recommendations aimed at eliminating unnecessary expenditures and assuring that state funds are being expended in accordance with legislative intent and law.
Agriculture & Rural Affairs
The Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee and the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee held an informational meeting Wednesday on the problems caused by the Spotted Lanternfly in parts of Pennsylvania. Video
The Senate Appropriations Committee approved four bills on Monday.
Senate Bill 53 would permanently allow for distance education inclusion in the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency State Grant Program.
House Bill 165 creates the Pennsylvania Achievement Medal and the Pennsylvania Veterans Service Award and adds those two new decorations to the list of existing medals, badges, and awards that are authorized and presented by the Governor in the name of the Commonwealth.
Senate Bill 676 addresses ongoing funding deficiencies in the Workers’ Compensation Uninsured Employers Guarantee Fund.
House Bill 790 establishes the Controlled Plant and Noxious Weed Act to provide for the regulation of noxious weeds and controlled plants and repeals the Noxious Weed Control Law.
Banking & Insurance
The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee approved three bills on Wednesday.
Senate Bill 877 amends the Insurance Department Act to allow producers and insurers to spend as much as $100 in marketing insurance to a client or prospective client.
Senate Bill 878 amends the Insurance Company Law to allow producers and insurers to spend as much as $100 in marketing insurance to a client or prospective client.
House Bill 1388 changes the expiration date of CHIP from December 31, 2017 to December 31, 2019 and prohibits the use of funds for sex change procedures.
Consumer Affairs & Professional Licensure
The Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee, approved three bills on Tuesday.
Senate Bill 384 removes the current exemption for Philadelphia from the Assessors Certification Act of 1992.
Senate Bill 892 amends the Chiropractic Practice Act to provide clarity on the topic of clinical training.
House Bill 1019 establishes procedures for the sale and purchase of a cemetery and reasonable access guidelines.
Environmental Resources & Energy
The Senate Environmental Resources & Energy Committee approved two measures on Tuesday.
Senate Resolution 168 directs the Joint State Government Commission to establish an advisory committee to analyze the potential impact of removing Cambria County from the emissions testing program.
Senate Bill 799 would improve water quality and help Pennsylvania meet federal pollution reduction mandates in the Chesapeake Bay watershed at a reduced cost to taxpayers.
The committee also held a public hearing on fees being charged to manage the state’s two public pension funds: Public School Employees’ Retirement System and the State Employees’ Retirement System. Watch
Health & Human Services
The Health and Human Services Committee approved three bills on Tuesday.
Senate Bill 179 creates a statewide voluntary reporting system to identify available psychiatric beds.
Senate Bill 439 requires carbon monoxide detectors in child care facilities if the facility uses a fossil fuel-burning heater or appliance or has an attached garage.
Senate Bill 674 implements automatic scheduling changes for controlled substances.
The Senate Local Government Committee, which I chair, held a public hearing Tuesday on beverage tax imposed in the City of Philadelphia. The hearing is being held at the request of Senator Anthony Williams (D-Philadelphia/Delaware). Hearing Video & Testimony
The Senate State Government Committee approved five bills on Tuesday.
Senate Bill 99 sets regulations for containers or bins placed in outdoor locations by organizations to collect donated clothing or other items for charitable purposes.
Senate Bill 563 requires the Department of State to develop a secure online system for military and overseas voters to electronically return absentee ballots.
Senate Bill 817 extends a lease.
Senate Bill 900 transfers a property title.
Senate Bill 921 conveys a property.
The committee also considered the nomination of Greg Fajt to serve on the Pennsylvania Board of Claims. Video
Urban Affairs & Housing
The Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee approved two bills on Wednesday.
Senate Bill 851 amends the Real Estate Tax Sale Law to clarify ownership of properties that are in the delinquent tax sale process.
Senate Bill 919 allows a tenant of a housing authority unit, who is a victim of domestic or sexual violence, to be relocated to another unit.
Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness
The Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee approved three measures on Tuesday.
Senate Resolution 5 establishes a Women’s Veterans’ Health Care task force to address the needs of Pennsylvania’s growing female veteran population.
Senate Bill 798 allows the appointment of a one-star or two-star military officer to the Military Enhancement Commission.
House Bill 1231 establishes a veterans’ registry, within the Department of Veterans Affairs, to provide veterans with information regarding state benefits, programs, and services.
The Senate returns to session Monday at 1 p.m. You can watch it live at SenatorMensch.com.
You can find a schedule of Senate committee meetings and hearings here.
Twitter and Facebook: I post regular updates on legislative action, committee developments, useful state-related information, happenings in the 24th Senatorial District and more on Twitter @SenatorMensch and on my Facebook page.If you find this e-newsletter useful, I invite you to visit my website www.senatormensch.com for more information about your state government.
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