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Senator John DiSanto

Week of December 11, 2017

In this Issue:

  • Ceremony Honoring Vietnam Veterans Scheduled for Jan. 9
  • Bill Setting Standards for PA Addiction Recovery Houses Set for Enactment
  • UC System Upgrades Measure Sent to Governor
  • Bills Sent to Governor as Legislature Closes Out 2017
  • Senate Approves Bill Restoring “Standing” for Grandparents
  • Bills Approved by the Senate and Sent to the House
  • Committee Roundup
  • Up Next

Ceremony Honoring Vietnam Veterans Scheduled for Jan. 9 

On January 9, 2018, I will be joining Dauphin County Commissioners Jeff Haste, Mike Pries and George P. Hartwick, III, and U.S. Senator Pat Toomey’s office to honor local veterans of the Vietnam War. 

The ceremony will be held at the American Legion Post 272, 505 N. Mountain Rd., in Linglestown. Doors will open at 11:30 a.m., and the ceremony will begin at noon. 

During the ceremony, veterans will be presented a commemorative pin and a certificate of recognition. To be eligible, the recipient must be a living veteran who served on active duty in the U.S. armed forces between Feb. 28, 1961 and May 7, 1975, regardless of service location. 

Eligible veterans are asked to call Colleen Washinger, of Dauphin County Veterans Affairs, at 717-780-6356 by December 22.   

As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, it is important to take this opportunity to show our appreciation for the Americans who served on active duty during these wartime years. I am honored to recognize the contribution and sacrifices of these veterans on behalf of their country. 


Bill Setting Standards for PA Addiction Recovery Houses Set for Enactment 

Legislation to establish quality standards for addiction recovery houses in Pennsylvania received final approval Wednesday and will be sent to Gov. Wolf to be signed into law.

Senate Bill 446 calls for the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) to establish standards for the licensure or certification of recovery houses that receive funds or referrals from DDAP or a federal, state or other county agency. Recovery house provide support for those suffering from addiction after they leave inpatient treatment or correctional facilities.  

Lawmakers acted after news articles brought to light cases of facility operators fueling addictions, exploiting residents and employing counselors who use drugs.  

State license or certification will be for a period of one year. Under Senate Bill 446, DDAP must maintain a registry on its publicly accessible website of all licensed or certified drug and alcohol recovery houses in the Commonwealth and update the registry annually.


UC System Measure Sent to Governor 

The Senate gave final approval Wednesday to legislation that provides $115.2 million in funding over four years for Unemployment Compensation (UC) program operations and technological upgrades. The measure now goes to the Governor for enactment.

I voted against this legislation, House Bill 1915, because the Department of Labor and Industry has utterly failed to be accountable for hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars. During the presentation of his audit of the UC Call Center system, Auditor General DePasquale criticized the department for being dysfunctional and incompetent and for wasting taxpayer money. 

This additional four years of funding perpetuates what was supposed to be “temporary” funding, yet the department has provided no plan to end its reliance on supplemental taxpayer money. There is clearly more interest in making this issue go away, at whatever cost, than there is in demanding a department overhaul. 

This is simply unacceptable and a disservice to taxpayers. 

The legislature should have instead authorized shorter-term funding and continued to press for answers and accountability because the department has been completely unable to hold itself accountable. Taxpayers, employers and the unemployed deserve an efficiently run and effectively administered unemployment compensation system.


Bills Sent to Governor as Legislature Closes Out 2017 

Senate Bill 3 amends the Abortion Control Act to reduce the maximum gestational age for legal abortions from 24 to 20 weeks and prohibits dismemberment abortion.

Senate Bill 252 amends the Pittsburgh Parking Authority’s enabling act to assist in supporting private development.

House Bill 411 amends the state Bingo Law to increase the monetary limits for payouts and jackpots.

Senate Bill 458 provides new penalties for illegal household goods movers. 

House Bill 561 amends the Crimes Code to repeal a sunset provision relating to the issuance of administrative subpoenas in an investigation involving child sexual exploitation or abuse.

Senate Bill 629 updates the Uniform Fraudulent Transfers Act.

Senate Bill 728 exempts Schedule V epilepsy drugs currently included in the state’s prescription drug monitoring program requirements.

Senate Bill 736 authorizes parking authorities in Second Class A and Third Class cities to enforce and administer parking ordinances and resolutions.

Senate Bill 921 conveys properties in Lehigh and McKean counties.

House Bill 1139 amends the Newborn Protection Act to expand the list of caregivers to whom a parent may surrender a newborn and provides for a program to install incubators so that newborns who are surrendered may be kept safely in a controlled environment.  

House Bill 1231 establishes a veterans’ registry, within the Department of Veterans Affairs, to provide veterans with information regarding state benefits, programs, and services.

House Bill 1234 amends the definition of ambulatory surgical facility in the Health Care Facilities Act to reflect that surgical procedures in the facility may not exceed 24 hours.

House Bill 1388 changes the expiration date of the Children’s Health Insurance Program from December 31, 2017, to December 31, 2019.  

House Bill 1420 sets new auditing thresholds for charitable organizations that receive annual contributions.

House Bill 1421 makes changes to the filing time frame for Charitable Organizations, Professional Fundraising Counsels and Professional Solicitors.

House Bill 1431 renames highways.

House Bill 1778 renames a bridge in Philadelphia.

House Bill 1902 makes various changes to the state Liquor Code.


Senate Approves Bill Restoring “Standing” for Grandparents

Legislation expanding the legal standing for individuals seeking to gain custody of children in cases where no biological or adoptive parent has custody was approved by the Senate on Tuesday and sent to the House of Representatives for consideration. 

Senate Bill 844 addresses the devastating toll of the opioid crisis on families across the Commonwealth, which can be especially heart-wrenching when it involves the innocent children of addicts left without care. Often, grandparents are called upon to care for those children -- even though they have little to no legal standing under current state law. 

When the Legislature amended the grandparent custody and visitation statute in 2010, a grandparent’s right or “standing” to file for custody of a grandchild became more limited, essentially removing what was once an automatic right. As a result, there have been instances where custody was awarded to a boyfriend or girlfriend, even though the grandparents had been involved throughout the child’s life. 

Under SB 844, grandparents or other third parties would be allowed to file for legal custody in cases where the parents are deceased or absent, provided they can show that they have a sustained, substantial and sincere interest in the welfare of the child.


Bills Approved by the Senate and Sent to the House

Senate Bill 196 allows judges to order an electronic monitoring device on a defendant in a protection from abuse order.

Senate Bill 354  strengthens licensee reporting requirements to the Department of State.

Senate Bill 764 creates a recreational vehicle (RV) specific law which would govern RV dealers, manufacturers, and salespeople.

Senate Bill 798 allows the appointment of a one-star or two-star military officer to the Military Enhancement Commission.

Senate Bill 892 amends the Chiropractic Practice Act to provide clarity on the topic of clinical training.

House Bill 1175 amends state law relating to lobbying disclosure to provide for an electronic registration filing system and to increase fines and penalties for violations of the act. The bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.

House Bill 1602 renames several bridges. The bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.


Committee Roundup 

Appropriations

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved nine bills on Monday.

Senate Bill 196 allows judges to order an electronic monitoring device on a defendant in a protection from abuse order.

Senate Bill 653 further consolidates the collection of local, non-property taxes, at the county level.

Senate Bill 796 exempts CDL licensees from the change of address fees if they have not actually moved from their home and the change of address is due to a governmental action beyond their control.

Senate Bill 799 creates a program for municipalities to meet their taxpayer-funded Chesapeake Bay nutrient reduction mandates.

Senate Bill 827 gives individuals the power to plan for the management and disposition of their digital assets by providing instructions in a will, trust, or power of attorney.

House Bill 1175 amends state law relating to lobbying disclosure to provide for an electronic registration filing system and to increase fines and penalties for violations of the act.

House Bill 1231 establishes a veterans’ registry, within the Department of Veterans Affairs, to provide veterans with information regarding state benefits, programs, and services.

House Bill 1234 amends the definition of ambulatory surgical facility in the Health Care Facilities Act to reflect that surgical procedures in the facility may not exceed 24 hours.

House Bill 1448  charges the Department of Education with providing information on its website to compare institutions of higher education.

The Appropriations Committee approved five bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 892 amends the Chiropractic Practice Act to provide clarity on the topic of clinical training.

House Bill 1420 sets new auditing thresholds for charitable organizations that receive annual contributions.

House Bill 1421 makes changes to the filing time frame for Charitable Organizations, Professional Fundraising Counsels and Professional Solicitors.

House Bill 1902 makes various changes to the state Liquor Code.

House Bill 1915 provides multi-year funding for the Unemployment Compensation program to end its reliance on the supplemental transfers to the Service and Infrastructure Improvement Fund. 

Banking & Insurance

The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee approved two bills on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 637 establishes a Pharmaceutical Transparency Commission to review drug prices in Pennsylvania and requires pharmaceutical companies to disclose information about their pricing.

Senate Bill 1003 would require insurance companies and Medicaid to reimburse emergency medical services agencies for services provided even when transport to a hospital does not take place. 

The committee held a public hearing Tuesday on Senate Bill 926. The legislation provides for a direct primary care model of health care, where patients receive access to their physician for a flat monthly fee. Hearing Video & Testimony 

Education

The Senate Education Committee approved two measures on Tuesday.

Senate Resolution 248 urges the Department of Education of the Commonwealth to develop alternatives to Keystone Exams for Federal accountability purposes.

Senate Bill 955 establishes a pilot program providing grants to community colleges to partner with secondary schools to train students in fire services. 

Game & Fisheries

The Senate Game and Fisheries Committee, which I chair, approved House Bill 359 on Wednesday. The bill addresses penalties for hunters who mistakenly kill an animal. 

Health & Human Services

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee approved three bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 623 updates and revises Pennsylvania law to include the codification of Pennsylvania Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment to be used by medical professionals. 

Senate Bill 938 reforms expungement guidelines for the Statewide Database of Protective Services within the Department of Human Services and County Child Protective Services Databases.

Senate Bill 978 addresses drug disposal after hospice care. 

Law & Justice

The Senate Law and Justice Committee approved House Bill 1902 on Monday. The bill makes various changes to the state Liquor Code. 

Local Government

The Senate Local Government Committee approved three bills on Tuesday.

House Bill 99 allows boroughs to make contracts or purchases without requiring advertising, bidding or price quotations in situations deemed emergencies.

Senate Bill 597 authorizes the Auditor General to conduct audits of county and municipal authorities.

Senate Bill 979 permits a municipal or regional police officer, who has been employed with a department full-time for at least six months, to purchase previous full- or part-time police employment for pension benefit purposes. 

Labor & Industry

The Senate Labor and Industry Committee approved House Bill 1915 on Monday. The bill provides multi-year funding for the Unemployment Compensation program with supplemental transfers to the Service and Infrastructure Improvement Fund. 

Majority Policy Committee 

The Senate Majority Policy Committee held a public hearing Tuesday on the Laurel Pipeline, a 90-mile stretch of pipeline between Pittsburgh and Altoona. 

Texas-based Buckeye Partners, the owner of the Laurel Pipeline, has asked the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to consider reversing the flow of gasoline in the pipeline, in the process moving up to 40,000 barrels of gasoline and diesel fuel through the line each day toward central Pennsylvania. The line currently moves petroleum products from east to west. Hearing Video & Written Testimony 

State Government

The Senate State Government Committee approved four bills on Tuesday,

House Bill 444 amends the Election Code to change the information required to be printed on a nominating petition for school director from “residence” to “address where he is duly registered and enrolled.”

Senate Bill 761 amends the state Constitution to allow gubernatorial candidates to select their running mate as Lieutenant Governor.

Senate Bill 762 mandates an external performance audit of the Pennsylvania Statewide Uniform Registry of Electors and the process by which voter registrations records are entered and maintained.

House Bill 1787 authorizes the conveyance of two parcels located in the Borough of Kane, McKean County. 

Transportation

The Senate Transportation Committee approved five bills on Wednesday

Senate Bill 55 reduces the percentage of service-connected disability required for a veteran to qualify for a severely disabled veteran license plate from 100 percent to at least 75 percent disability.

Senate Bill 898 exempts municipal trucks from state bonding requirements when these vehicles are traveling in order to maintain local roads. 

Senate Bill 961 increases the penalties for someone convicted of vehicular homicide while DUI who has had prior offenses for DUI. 

Senate Bill 973 renames a bridge.

Senate Bill 974 renames a bridge. 

The committee held a public hearing Tuesday with the Senate State Government Committee on Motor Voter, Unlawful Voting and Cyber Security. Hearing Video & Written Testimony 

Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness

The Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee approved two measures on Wednesday.

House Bill 204 directs the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to serve as a liaison and provide administrative support for the Civil Air Patrol.

Senate Resolution 237 urging counties and local law enforcement, public safety and emergency services to work with the State Police to facilitate the rollout of the new P25 Pa-Star Net radio system. 



  

East Hanover Elementary Students visit the Capitol
 


Up Next

The Senate will reconvene on Tuesday, January 2, 2018. You can watch live at PASenateGOP.com.


For more information on issues of importance to central Pennsylvania, please visit www.senatordisanto.com and connect with me on Facebook and Twitter.

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