I am pleased to send you my Session Wrap Up e-newsletter. This e-newsletter features events and legislative activities from the Session Day of April 20, 2020.
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Committee Approves My Bill to Aid First Responders Impacted by COVID-19
On Monday, the Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee reported out my legislation that would establish a special one-time grant program for Pennsylvania’s volunteer fire companies and EMS squads as they address the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.
Recognizing that the ongoing response to the COVID-19 outbreak is placing a severe financial crisis on those vital first responders, Senate Bill 1122 provides for a one-time grant to each fire and EMS Company matching the ones previously approved by PEMA and the Office of the State Fire Commissioner for the 2019-20 Fiscal Year.
Seven Republicans voted for the bill and four Democrats voted against the measure. I never imagined partisanship would ever transcend into providing essential funding to our local volunteer fire departments and EMS programs, but today it did. Nevertheless, I will continue to support our dedicated first responders, especially as they serve our citizens during one of the most trying times in our nation’s history. Audio
Many of these great organizations struggle financially under normal circumstances and the current situation has certainly exacerbated that need. It is incumbent on the Commonwealth to support our volunteer fire companies and EMS agencies as they continue to protect and serve our communities during these challenging times.
“Facing the State” to Discuss COVID-19 Impact
I had the privilege this past weekend of appearing on the Face the State television show on CBS-21 (Harrisburg) this past weekend to discuss the impact the COVID-19 shutdown has had on the construction industry as well as Senate Bill 1122, my legislation to provide grants to first responders.
Telemedicine Bill Sent to Governor
As Pennsylvania continues to cope with the impact of COVID-19, the Senate gave final approval on Tuesday to a bill promoting telemedicine as a way to overcome barriers to quality patient care created by distance and reduce the costs of those services.
Senate Bill 857, which now goes to the Governor, sets guidelines regarding who can provide telemedicine services and provides clarity regarding insurance company reimbursement for those services. While Senate Bill 857 makes substantial changes in the health care industry, physicians and other health practitioners delivering telemedicine services would still be required to follow standard state licensure and medical practice laws and requirements in Pennsylvania. Click here for audio of my comments on the bill.
Bill Aiding First Responders, Guard Impacted by COVID-19 Sent to Governor
The Senate approved a bill on Tuesday that would provide benefits to law enforcement officers and members of the National Guard on active duty who are incapacitated due to COVID-19. The measure now goes to the Governor.
House Bill 1869 authorizes state compensation for 60 days for those who contract or are diagnosed with COVID-19 or are subject to quarantine resulting from exposure to COVID-19. The bill also authorizes the Department of Health to grant waivers or exceptions from state EMS staffing requirements on a case-by-case basis.
Also receiving final legislative approval this week was House Bill 752, which removes a restriction on Game Fund money used for the purchase of land in a Second Class County.
Senate Sends Six Bills to House
The Senate approved six bills this week and sent the measures to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Bill 417 requires successful write-in candidates receive at least the same number of write-in votes as would be required if they had filed nomination petitions.
Senate Bill 462 repeals outdated School Code provisions.
Senate Bill 647 allows for a $5 surcharge to be added to DUI fines to provide additional funding to the State Police for the training of state and local Drug Recognition Experts.
Senate Bill 997 clarifies military service credit for retirement purposes for Pennsylvania State Police members.
Senate Bill 1027 extends the sunset of the Geospatial Coordinating Board by four years – from June 30, 2020 — and makes minor adjustments to the authorizing statute.
Senate Bill 1108 amends the General Appropriation Act of 2019 to add federal appropriations for Fiscal Year 2019-20.
In addition to Senate Bill 647, Senate Bill 997 and Senate Bill 1108, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved 12 other bills on Tuesday.
House Bill 102 provides for expanded availability of hunter education courses in public schools.
Senate Bill 368 mandates real-time reporting of infants born with an opioid addiction and high susceptibility of withdrawal conditions.
Senate Bill 530 requires that a student who is convicted or adjudicated delinquent of sexual assault to be removed from the school building, if they are enrolled in the same school district.
Senate Bill 532 designates March 6 as First Gulf War Veterans Day; October 7 as Afghanistan War Veterans Day; and December 18 as Second Gulf War Veterans Day,
Senate Bill 606 provides for the authority to prescribe or personally furnish antibiotics to treat sexually transmitted infections without having examined the individual for whom the drug is intended.
Senate Bill 927 addresses the verification process for a veteran’s designation on driver licenses.
Senate Bill 935 amends the Fire and Panic Act regarding smoke detectors.
Senate Bill 968 consolidates the Department of Corrections with the Board of Probation and Parole.
Senate Bill 969 amends the Crime Victims Act to make technical changes related to the consolidation of the Department of Corrections and the Board of Probation and Parole.
Senate Bill 976 adds Veterans Courts to the list of problem-solving courts that may be established by a court of common pleas and by the Municipal Court of Philadelphia.
Senate Bill 1030 amends the Pennsylvania Sewage Facilities Act (Act 537).
House Bill 1050 guarantees in-state tuition rates for reassigned military families.
Health & Human Services
The Senate Health & Human Services Committee approved three bills on Monday.
Senate Bill 273 removes the cap on funds which can be obtained by federally qualified health centers.
Senate Bill 959 dedicates additional Medicaid funding for ventilator and tracheostomy services.
Senate Bill 1110 requires the Department of Health to notify county commissioners or their designated county emergency management coordinator of the municipality in which there is any confirmed communicable disease cases, such as COVID-19.
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved three bills on Monday.
House Bill 360 makes 18 the minimum age for obtaining a marriage license.
Senate Bill 1119 provides guidance during a judicial emergency.
Senate Bill 1120 provides guidance during a judicial emergency.
Rules & Executive Nominations
The Senate Rules & Executive Nominations Committee approved Senate Bill 857 on Tuesday.
Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness
In addition to Senate Bill 1122, the Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee approved two other bills on Monday.
Senate Bill 1076 removes the sunset provision for the Military Family Relief Assistance Program.
House Bill 1838 increases the funding for and modifies the eligible uses of money deposited in the Emergency Medical Services Operating Fund.
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