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Welcome to "Mike's Memo," an update on what's happening in the 48th Senatorial District and the State Capitol. If you haven't done so already, please take a moment to visit my website at www.senatorfolmer.com to learn more about my legislative priorities and issues that may affect you and your family.

Week of January 8, 2018

Congratulations to my colleague and friend, Senator Joe Scarnati, on being re-elected as the PA Senate President Pro Tempore.  He serves the position extremely well! 

Bills Signed into Law by the Governor
Act 58 House Bill 1388:  reauthorizes the PA Children’s Health Insurance Program;
Act 59 Senate Bill 446:  provides regulation and certification of drug and alcohol recovery and transition houses;
Act 60 House Bill 1915:  appropriates $115.2 Million to the PA Department of Labor & Industry for Unemployment Compensation operations and technology upgrades;
Act 61 House Bill 290:  changes to the Underground Storage Tank Indemnification Board;
Act 62 House Bill 425:  PACE/PACENET Social Security cost of living adjustment moratorium;
Act 64 House Bill 1019:  allows access to cemeteries on private lands;
Act 65 House Bill 1490:  gives the PA Public Utility Commission oversight over the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority;
Act 66 House Bill 411:  updates the Bingo Law;
Act 67 House Bill 561:  repeals the sunset provision for administrative subpoenas in child pornography investigations;
Act 68 House Bill 1139:  updates the Newborn Protection Act;
Act 69 House Bill 1231:  expands the PA Department of Military & Veterans Affairs’ Veterans Registry;
Act 70 House Bill 1234:  aligns lengths of stay in Ambulatory Surgery Centers with federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services;
Act 71 House Bill 1420:  aligns audit requirements for financial reports under the Solicitation of Funds for Charitable Purposes Act to federal law;
Act 72 House Bill 1421:  updates the Solicitation of Funds for Charitable Purposes Act relating to filing registration statements;
Act 75 House Bill 1902:  streamlines the PA Liquor Control Board licensing process;
Act 76 Senate Bill 252:  amends the Pittsburgh Parking Authority’s Enabling Act to support private development;
Act 77 Senate Bill 458:  strengthens penalties for illegal household movers;
Act 78 Senate Bill 629:  establishes the Uniform Voidable Transactions Act;
Act 79 Senate Bill 728:  exempts Schedule V epilepsy drugs under the PA Drug Monitoring Program;
Act 80 Senate Bill 736:  authorizes parking authorities in Pittsburgh and Cities of the Third Class to enforce and administer parking ordinances and resolutions;
Act 81 Senate Bill 751:  provides for licensure and regulation of non-bank mortgage servicers. 

Medical Marijuana Program Update
Patient, Caregiver and Physician Registry:  By the end of 2017, 10,532 patients registered with the program, as did 606 caregivers and 558 physicians.
Grower/Processor and Dispensary Operations:  Nine of the twelve grower/processors initially permitted by the PA Department of Health have been deemed operational, as has the first dispensary permittee.
Clinical Registrant/Academic Clinical Research Center Temporary Regulations:  A draft of temporary regulations relating to clinical registrants and academic clinical research centers is now available.  The draft can be viewed here, and feedback can be submitted here

Column:  Informed Consent
The ability to make decisions about what goes into our bodies is a basic human right.  This personal autonomy is challenged whenever government requires mandatory vaccinations.  Indeed, sticking needles into a human body is the very definition of intrusive. 

For this reason, I am introducing “Informed Consent” legislation to require patients and parents be given information before they consent to vaccinations.  Consistent with my successful medical cannabis initiative, I believe all medical decisions should be between a patient and their physician – including the right to informed consent or informed refusal in the use of vaccines. 

I am also introducing a Resolution calling upon Congress to repeal the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act.  This federal law prevents those harmed by a vaccine from suing pharmaceutical companies making these products.  I believe this Act violates patient’s rights by limiting options to refuse vaccinations or seek due process of law as guaranteed by the 5th Amendment to the US Constitution. 

My goal is to ensure people are first given an explanation of the potential benefits and the potential risks whenever a vaccine is administered.  Only then are people able to exercise their basic human right to decide whether or not to allow intrusion into their bodies. 

Informed Consent is already required for a number of medical treatments and procedures:  surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and blood transfusions.  My legislation would extend patients’ rights to Informed Consent to vaccinations by requiring them to be informed of the potential risks and benefits of the vaccinations they are being given.  More importantly, my legislation will require patients be given this information prior to their consenting to receive a vaccination. 

I believe Informed Consent should, at a minimum, mean the person from whom consent is being sought be given the opportunity to understand what they are being given, what the risks and benefits are, and other potential consequences of the procedure they are facing. 

Physicians and researchers are divided on the impacts of vaccines on children – especially the relationship of vaccines to autism – plus a number of other conditions and medical circumstances where vaccination may not be considered safe. 

From the 1940’s when the first autism cases were diagnosed to the 1980’s when the vaccine schedule was expanded, the rate of autism remained relatively stable.  In the early 1990’s, parents and physicians witnessed an alarming rise, which some call an epidemic, in autism rates.  In one decade, the rate of autism increased 500%:  from one in 2,500 to one in 500. 

A reanalysis of a 2004 CDC study showed a higher connection between incidences of autism for children receiving the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine prior to 36 months of age.  In 2008, the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program awarded a family roughly $1.5 Million for a vaccine’s role in an autism-related diagnosis. 

Until these issues are further researched and/or a Vaccine Safety Commission is established, I believe no patient or parent should be required to submit to a vaccination without Informed Consent. 

I hope my colleagues in the Senate and House will agree:  Informed Consent is a basic human right of consenting or refusing a medical treatment or procedure – including vaccinations.

Cheryl Batdorf, Lebanon Valley Chamber ATHENA Award Honoree
Cheryl Batdorf was recently recognized by the Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce as the 2017 ATHENA Award honoree.  Cheryl has proven herself to be a strong community leader and role model.  A graduate of Shippensburg University, she earned a master’s degree from Lebanon Valley College and a doctoral degree from Argosy University.  A Financial Advisor with Edward Jones in Lebanon, Cheryl has held positions in higher education at Lebanon Valley College, Harrisburg Area Community College and Millersville University.  Active in her community, she has served as President of the Community of Lebanon Association, a Board member of Junior Achievement of Central PA and a volunteer with the Lebanon County Commission for Women and Central PA Supports the Troops.  The Senate of PA congratulates Cheryl upon her richly deserved recognition and offers warmest wishes for every future success and happiness! 

The ATHENA Award began in 1982 through the dedicated efforts of Martha Mertz.  When she became a member of the Board of Directors of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce in Michigan, Ms. Mertz discovered that local professional women and businesswomen were not being recognized as community leaders.  Her initial concept for the ATHENA Award led to the development of ATHENA International, and the award now is conferred upon people throughout the world who actively assist women in their attainment of professional excellence and leadership skills.


Contact Information
Please feel free to contact me at any time on state-related issues that are of concern to you. I may be reached through my website or my Lebanon or Harrisburg offices.

When contacting my office by e-mail, mail, or telephone, please be sure to share your e-mail, telephone number, and address so that we can follow up with you in a timely manner. Many inquiries can be handled with a phone call or email.

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