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Senator Don White

Harrisburg Happenings
A Report on the Legislative Session of
October 16, 2017

Dear Friend,

I am pleased to send you my Session Wrap Up e-newsletter. This e-newsletter features legislative activities during the Session Week of October 16, 2017.

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Don White

Bill Extends CHIP, Bars Funding for Sex Change Procedures

The Senate Banking & Insurance Committee, which I chair, approved legislation on Wednesday that would extend the life of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) while prohibiting the use of funds for sex change procedures. Audio

House Bill 1388, which was passed in the Committee by a bipartisan 14-1 vote and now goes to the full Senate for consideration, changes the expiration date of CHIP from December 31, 2017 to December 31, 2019 and makes a clarifying exemption to the program’s expiration if federal funding for the program extends beyond December 31, 2019.

Pennsylvania’s CHIP program is one of the Commonwealth’s true success stories and has served as a model for similar programs across the country. Tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians lead healthy and productive lives because of the essential medical services they received as children through CHIP, and thousands of young people are today benefitting from the program.

Prior to its vote, the Committee amended the bill with my amendment that prohibits the use of CHIP money to pay for gender or sex reassignment surgery or gender or sex transition services, including, but not limited to: physician’s services, inpatient and outpatient hospital services, prescribed drugs, and/or counseling services.

 It is completely inappropriate to use state funds to pay for sex change operations for children. I believe that is a position that is strongly endorsed by a vast majority of Pennsylvanians. I strongly support CHIP. This program provides vital health care services for Pennsylvania’s children. It is irresponsible to allow its limited resources to be used for sex change procedures.

This restriction for CHIP is in line with current state regulations that prohibit the use of Medicaid funding for sex change procedures. Pennsylvania law already prohibits our largest state health care program from using taxpayer money for these services. It only makes sense to define in statute that this restriction includes CHIP as well.

CHIP is supported by both state and federal funding and provides insurance coverage to uninsured children and teens (up to age 19) whose families earn too much to qualify for Medical Assistance, but cannot afford private insurance. There are about 175,000 Pennsylvania children enrolled in CHIP.

The Committee also approved Senate Bill 877  and Senate Bill 878, two bills I introduced to amend the Independent Department Act and the Insurance Company Law to allow insurance companies to spend as much as $100 in marketing their products to a client or prospective client.

These bills would allow reasonable, practical marketing in a competitive field without jeopardizing the pricing integrity of insurance. This would let a company offer a coffee or gas card to consumers who request a quote or submit an application. 

Smith Replaces Mack on State System Board of Governors

I am pleased to report that the Senate unanimously confirmed the appointment of Punxsutawney native Sam Smith to serve on the Board of Governors for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) on Tuesday.

Smith replaces Indiana resident Jonathan Mack on the 20-member Board of Governors, which is responsible for planning and coordinating development and operation of PASSHE and its 14 universities including Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP).

I want to thank and commend Jon for his service on the PASSHE Board. He has been a strong advocate for IUP, its staff and its students.

I’ve known and worked with Sam for many years and I believe he will be an excellent addition to the PASSHE Board and a strong advocate for IUP. That advocacy will be especially important in these turbulent times as PASSHE addresses enrollment changes and funding issues.

Smith is a graduate of Punxsutawney Area High School and Penn State University. He was elected to the state House of Representatives in 1986 and served as Republican Floor Leader (2003-10) and later as Speaker of the House (2011-14) before retiring at the end of 2014. He is currently Chairman of IUP’s Council of Trustees

Mack is a partner with Marcus & Mack, P.C., of Indiana. He received his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Toledo School of Law and bachelor’s degree from Dickinson College, where he graduated cum laude. He is currently Vice Chairman of IUP’s Council of Trustees. 

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.

Four additional measures received final legislative approval this week and were sent to the Governor.

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 addressing 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.

Eight additional bills were approved by the Senate this week and sent to the House.

Senate Bill 53 would permanently allow for distance education inclusion in the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency State Grant Program.

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 requires a municipality to contract with at least three third party agencies and amends the Uniform Construction Code Act to eliminate the current “monopoly.”

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.

Senate Bill 888 would improve access to disabled parking spaces by prohibiting the obstruction of access aisles and strengthening enforcement measures. 

Committee Roundup


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. 

Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure

The Senate Consumer Protection & 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 Senate Finance Committee approved House Bill 984 on Tuesday. The bill extends the income tax donation check-off box for the Military Family Relief Program until January 1, 2023. 

Health & Human Services

The Senate Health & 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. 

State Government

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. 

Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness

The Senate Veterans Affairs & 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. 

Urban Affairs & Housing

The Senate Urban Affairs & 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.

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