In this Edition:
Senate Acts to Protect Gun Owners’ Rights
The Senate on Tuesday approved legislation I am co-sponsoring to protect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners.
Senate Bill 5 prevents local jurisdictions from imposing firearms ordinances more restrictive than laws passed by the General Assembly. The measure now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Bill 5 permits individuals and organizations to take court action to block restrictive local firearms ordinances that run counter to the Second Amendment of the US Constitution as well as the protections explicitly set by Pennsylvania’s Constitution and state laws.
Senate Approves Full Practice Authority for Nurse Practitioners
The Senate on Wednesday took a major step to improve access to quality healthcare services in rural areas by approving a bill to give full practice authority to Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs).
Senate Bill 25 amends the Professional Nursing Law to permit qualified APRNs to practice in their field of specialty independent of a physician after they fulfill a three-year, 3,600-hour collaboration agreement with a doctor. Current law requires nurse practitioners to practice under a collaboration agreement at all times.
Several statewide and national advocacy organizations support full practice authority for nurse practitioners, including the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania, the National Academy of Medicine, AARP and the National Governors’ Association. Twenty-two states and Washington, D.C. have already adopted full practice authority for APRNs.
SB 25 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Legislation to Protect Child Victims of Human Trafficking Passes Senate
On Tuesday, the Senate approved “Safe Harbor” legislation to require that sexually exploited children be diverted from the criminal justice system to more appropriate human services.
More than 100,000 children are exploited through prostitution in the United States each year. Adults psychologically manipulate these children, often with the use of illegal drugs. As a consequence, children have been charged with prostitution, drug possession, loitering, and other offenses that are inherently related to prostitution.
Senate Bill 554 would require law enforcement to report to the Department of Human Services any encounter with a minor who has been subject to sexual exploitation. The Department will develop and implement a statewide protocol to deliver safe long-term housing, education, life-skills training, and counseling to the children who have been exploited.
Senate Adopts Mensch Resolution Recognizing Pennsylvania Community College Month
On Wednesday, I joined Senator Lisa Boscola (D-Lehigh, Northampton), my Co-Chair on the bipartisan Community College Caucus, to introduce a joint resolution recognizing the month of April 2017 as “Pennsylvania Community College Month” in Pennsylvania. The resolution encourages residents to recognize, appreciate, and support the contributions these institutions make to their communities and the Commonwealth.
The resolution was unanimously adopted by the Senate.
Community Colleges fill an essential role in the state’s education continuum. They provide the educational building blocks for students who are looking to enhance their existing careers and they provide an excellent opportunity for first time college students to get a great education, for a reasonable tuition. Community Colleges ultimately are economic engines, helping our local, county and state economic growth.
The resolution recognizes Pennsylvania Community Colleges for providing accessible and affordable higher education, work force training and transfer opportunities for millions of Pennsylvania residents. Pennsylvania community colleges serve more than 327,000 students.
Community colleges continue to graduate students in many of the high-demand and high-growth industries vital to the State’s economy, particularly in health care, public safety, manufacturing and energy. More than 1,120 employers throughout this Commonwealth have contracted with community colleges to provide training for more employees, and 48,349 employees have been trained by community colleges throughout Pennsylvania.
Other Bills Approved by the Senate and Sent to the House
Senate Resolution 6 updates the comprehensive study of fire and EMS issues completed in 2004.
Senate Bill 8 reforms state law regarding the seizure and forfeiture of property. I am co-sponsoring this measure.
Senate Bill 95 addresses lawsuits filed against a person or organization for statements made or positions taken in connection with a matter of public interest or regulation. I am co-sponsoring this measure.
Senate Bill 260 addresses representation of crime victims on the Victims’ Services Advisory Committee within the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. I am co-sponsoring this measure.
Senate Bill 399 clarifies the Second Class Township Code to stipulate that township supervisors shall not hold any other elective township office or appointed position in the township that is prohibited by the code or any other state law. I am co-sponsoring this measure.
Committee Votes to Make Government Employee Contract Negotiations Public
The Senate State Government Committee approved three bills Tuesday that would improve transparency of the process of negotiating the salaries and benefits of government and school employees.
Collective bargaining negotiations for public employee salaries and benefits are currently exempt from government transparency laws.
Senate Bill 503 would remove the exemption of collective bargaining from the Sunshine Act. Senate Bill 504 would add collective bargaining to the classification of information that is available to the public under the state’s Right to Know Law.
In addition, Senate Bill 168 would require any proposed collective bargaining agreement to be made available on the public employers’ publicly accessible Internet website within 48 hours.
The bills were sent to the full Senate for consideration.
Agriculture & Rural Affairs
The Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee and the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education, Workforce, Community and Economic Development held a joint public hearing Tuesday on the proposed PA Farm Show Complex lease/leaseback plan. You can view the hearing here.
The Senate Appropriations Committee approved three bills on Monday.
Senate Bill 25 amends the state’s Professional Nursing Law to provide for the licensure of certified nurse practitioners by the State Board of Nursing.
Senate Bill 201 provides for “like-kind” exchange tax deferrals.
House Bill 224 provides civil immunity to trained school bus drivers who administer epinephrine auto-injectors (epi-pens) to students.
Banking & Insurance
The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee approved two bills on Tuesday.
Senate Bill 143 makes changes to the Underground Storage Tank Indemnification Board.
Senate Bill 630 reforms insurance licensure requirements for travel agents.
Community, Economic, & Recreational Development Committee
The Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee approved House Bill 151 on Wednesday. The bill defines “agent” as it relates to applications for grants from the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority.
Environmental Resources & Energy
The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee approved four measures on Tuesday.
Senate Resolution 33 establishes a task force to study lead exposure in Pennsylvania.
Senate Bill 144 amends Act 537 (Pennsylvania Sewage Facilities Act) to allow the use of “alternative systems” for planning purposes.
Senate Bill 497 eliminates the “waste” designation for steel slag when it is sold as a commodity and is not a discarded material.
Senate Bill 646 amends Act 101 of 1988, the Municipal Waste Planning Recycling and Waste Reduction Act.
The Senate Finance Committee approved four bills on Wednesday.
Senate Bill 300 prioritizes the allocation of public funds for family planning purposes.
Senate Bill 508 eliminates the 40 percent wholesale tax on vaping products and replaces it with a 5-cents per milliliter retail tax on e-liquid.
Senate Bill 611 amends the Public Employee Pension Forfeiture Act to require pension forfeiture if a public employee or public official is convicted, pleads guilty, or no defense to any felony offense related to his or her employment.
Senate Bill 627 ensures that all air freight companies are treated equally under Pennsylvania tax law.
Health & Human Services
The Health and Human Services Committee approved two bills on Tuesday.
House Bill 23 adds acute stroke-ready hospitals and comprehensive stroke centers to the provisions of the Primary Stroke Center Recognition Act.
Senate Bill 200 would include postpartum depression as an “at risk category” for early intervention tracking under Act 212 of 1990 (Early Intervention Services System Act).
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved five bills on Tuesday.
Senate Bill 434 would reduce the allotted period of time that is necessary in order to acquire a title of a blighted or abandoned property through adverse possession under various situations and circumstances.
Senate Bill 461 would modernize and strengthen the use of DNA technology to better fight violent crime in Pennsylvania.
Senate Bill 496 provides additional sentencing provisions for trespassing at gaming establishments.
Senate Bill 510 increases the penalty for threatening law enforcement officers, sheriffs, or members of their family.
Senate Bill 577 bans the sale, possession, or distribution of shark fins.
Labor & Industry
The Senate State Government Committee approved five bills on Tuesday.
Senate Bill 168 provides for public notice of collective bargaining agreements prior to approval.
Senate Bill 353 is a land conveyance bill.
Senate Bill 503 removes the exemption of collective bargaining from the Sunshine Act.
Senate Bill 504 removes the exemption of collective bargaining from the Right to Know Law.
Senate Bill 539 recognizes and preserves the Pennsylvania State Area of the Medal of Honor Grove in Schuylkill Township, Chester County.
The Senate Transportation Committee approved four bills on Tuesday.
Senate Bill 332 would make it a summary offense to smoke in a vehicle in which children 12 years of age and younger are being transported.
Senate Bill 589 increases the maximum allowable gross weight for commercial vehicles powered by natural gas from 80,000 pounds to 82,000 pounds.
Senate Bill 614 designates the Diamondville Bridge in Cherryhill Township, Indiana County, as the Sgt. Robert Eugene Goodlin Memorial Bridge.
Senate Bill 648 creates a Distracted Driving Awareness Plate for passenger cars and trucks.
The committee also held a public hearing PennDOT’s Twelve Year Program, which prioritiezes road and bridge construction projects. You can view the hearing and read testimony from Transportation Secretary Leslie Richards here.
The Senate will reconvene Monday, May 8 at 1 p.m. You can watch session live at PASenateGOP.com.
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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