A report on the Session Week of September 21, 2020
I am pleased to send you my Session Wrap Up e-newsletter. This e-newsletter features events and legislative activities from the Session Week of September 21, 2020.
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Court Rejects Wolf’s COVID-19 Ruling Stay Request
On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge William S. Stickman IV rejected the Wolf Administration’s request for a stay of his previous ruling that shutdown orders requiring people to stay home and placed limits on public gatherings were unconstitutional.
The ruling reaffirms the court’s position from September 14 that the Administration’s shutdown orders and limitations on public gatherings violated our basic right to free assembly, due process and equal protection. By rejecting the stay, Judge Stickman ruled that the state Attorney General failed to present sufficient evidence to the contrary.
The Governor’s overreach in issuing his orders is clear and this ruling unequivocally affirms that. Our communities must continue to be vigilant and we must continue to take the appropriate preventative steps to curb the spread of the virus, but those efforts should be made with appropriate input from elected leaders at the state, county and local levels. Unilateral, arbitrary executive rulings that fail to account for the individual and specific conditions of counties and communities are direct violations of the rights of Pennsylvanians. Most importantly, it’s clear that limitations on public gatherings cannot be more restrictive than the “gatherings” that take place every day in the businesses around our communities.
I appreciate the court’s initial September 14 ruling and applaud the decision Judge Stickman handed down on Tuesday. It’s well past time that all parties cooperatively work together to address the pandemic.
Senate Approves “Move Over” Bill to Improve Highway Safety
Legislation rebranding and strengthening the state’s Steer Clear Law to better protect tow truck drivers, law enforcement and other first responders was unanimously approved by the Senate on Tuesday.
Senate Bill 1281 rebrands the “Steer Clear Law” as the “Move Over Law” to clarify how motorists should react when approaching or passing an emergency response area. It would establish a new point system for a “Move Over” violation; double the fines for a summary offense; strengthen public awareness by requiring PennDOT to educate the public throughout the year; and implement new requirements for drivers approaching an emergency response area.
According to PA State Police, 7,075 citations were issued in 2018-19 for Steer Clear/Move Over violations, in addition to 3,204 warnings. Already in 2020, 35 first responders have been killed nationwide while working roadside incidents: 17 tow operators/mechanics or Department of Transportation workers, 12 law enforcement officers and three fire/EMS personnel.
The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Approves Bills Addressing COVID-19 Pandemic
The Senate approved three bills this week addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.
Senate Bill 1164 amends the County Code to clarify that all deaths in a county suspected of COVID-19 shall be referred to the county coroner for investigation.
Senate Bill 1189 requires nursing homes to follow CDC guidelines immediately upon the issuance of an emergency proclamation by the Governor.
House Bill 2513 allows restaurants, clubs and bars to use 50 percent of their indoor seating capacity while adhering to CDC and state COVID-19 guidance.
Senate Passes Measure Prohibiting Phone Number Spoofing
Telemarketers would be prohibited from spoofing phone numbers to fool consumers under a bill approved by the Senate on Monday. Telemarketers frequently spoof phone numbers to make it appear as if their call originates in the same area as the recipient.
Senate Bill 764 would prevent any individual or entity from engaging in caller ID spoofing in order to defraud, cause harm or obtain anything of value from another person. The legislation would also prohibit telemarketing and robocalls between the hours of 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Other bills approved by the Senate this week and sent to the House include:
Senate Bill 85, which provides for license fee exemptions for service dogs used by a fire department, sheriff’s office or in the performance of rescue services or medical emergency services. Currently, the fee exemption exists only for any municipal or State police department or agency.
Senate Bill 395, which requires the POW-MIA flag to be flown at welcome centers, rest stops and service plazas along the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
Senate Bill 487, which updates the Breach of Personal Information Notification Act to require state agencies victimized by a breach involving personally identifiable information to report the incident to those affected within seven days.
Senate Bill 881, which directs a portion of the state-allocated farmland preservation funding to be set aside annually for use by land trusts.
Senate Bill 1190, which conveys a property in Conewango Township, Warren County.
Senate Bill 1241, which directs the Department of General Services to conduct an annual survey of state facility usage.
Senate Bill 1280, which conveys a property partially in the City of Washington and partially in South Strabane Township, Washington County.
Senate Bill 1309, which conveys a tract of unimproved land in Manheim Township, Lancaster County.
Two Bills Sent to Governor’s Desk
Two bills received final legislative approval this week and were sent to the Governor’s desk for enactment into law.
House Bill 2487 freezes the annual cost of living adjustment for judges, members of the General Assembly, elected officers of the Commonwealth and Executive department heads for the annual periods beginning either Dec. 1, 2020 or Jan. 1, 2021.
Senate Bill 902 amends the County Code to clarify succession for a First Assistant District Attorney upon a vacancy of the office of District Attorney in Fourth through Eighth Class counties.
Aging & Youth
The Senate Aging & Youth Committee approved two bills on Monday.
Senate Bill 983 expands Pennsylvania’s Newborn Child Screening and Follow-up Program by merging the mandatory and supplemental disorder lists.
Senate Bill 1279 allows for Designated Essential Family Caregivers in long-term care facilities.
Agriculture & Rural Affairs
The Senate Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee approved two bills on Tuesday.
House Bill 1224 gives the Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board the authority to coordinate with the Department of Revenue to collect and distribute premiums on milk.
Senate Bill 1330 provides for milk “sell by date” and “best by date” labeling.
In addition to Senate Bill 395, Senate Bill 1189 , Senate Bill 1241, Senate Bill 1281, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved seven bills on Monday.
House Bill 21 requires the licensure of home inspectors and repeals the Home Inspection Law.
House Bill 30 allows contributions of $6 to the Governor Robert P. Casey Memorial Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Trust Fund when renewing a vehicle registration for two years.
Senate Bill 810 consolidates the administration and management of the Commonwealth’s information technology under the Office of Information Technology.
Senate Bill 890 creates a new category under Medical Assistance for Workers with Disabilities.
House Bill 1034 amends the Consolidated County Assessment Law to more precisely define changes to real property that could occur without authorizing the assessment office to adjust an assessment, and to increase the value of other improvements that may occur before the assessment office is required to be notified.
House Bill 1838 increases the funding for and modifies the eligible uses of money deposited in the Emergency Medical Services Operating Fund.
House Bill 2073 modernizes and recodifies the First Class Township Code.
In addition to Senate Bill 487 and Senate Bill 1164, the Appropriations Committee approved four bills on Tuesday.
Senate Bill 1033 adds a new judge for the Columbia and Montour Judicial District and for Huntingdon County.
Senate Bill 1075 increases the penalties for child pornography and sexual abuse of children, when the victim is known to the defendant.
Banking & Insurance
The Senate Banking & Insurance Committee approved two bills on Monday.
House Bill 858 creates the Incentive-based Savings Program Act to authorize and permit financial institutions to conduct savings promotion programs.
House Bill 1769 amends the Charitable Gift Annuity Exemption Act to define “derisking annuity contracts.”
Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure
The Senate Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure Committee approved five bills on Tuesday.
Senate Bill 391 updates the Optometric Practice and Licensure Act.
House Bill 770 requires pharmacy technicians to register with the State Board of Pharmacy.
Senate Bill 1112 addresses regulations applicable to landline telephone companies.
House Bill 1534 amends the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law to update definitions and provide consumer protections with a focus on pyramid schemes.
House Bill 1947 reduces the graduate medical training required for international medical graduates from three years to two years to modernize the licensure process.
The Senate Education Committee approved four bills on Tuesday.
House Bill 703 requires school districts and charter schools to publish on their websites an e-mail address for each member of their school boards of directors and trustees.
Senate Bill 1251 establishes an Assessment Testing Select Committee to study federal testing requirements.
Senate Bill 1252 ensures that — through assistance of volunteer teaching corps — all school children can continue education efforts during mandatory school closures.
Senate Bill 1268 enables temporary nurse aides hired during the COVID-19 emergency declaration to transition to certified nurse aides.
Health & Human Services
The Senate Health & Human Services Committee approved three bills on Tuesday.
House Bill 924 creates the Living Donor Protection Act.
House Bill 1220 creates the CMV Education and Newborn Screening Act.
House Bill 2305 waives fees and parental consent requirements for homeless and foster youth applying for birth certificates.
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Senate Bill 1075 on Monday. The bill increases the penalties for child pornography and sexual abuse of children, when the victim is known to the defendant.
The Senate Local Government Committee approved Senate Bill 1296 on Monday. The bill prohibits a Fourth Class County from purchasing a property in a Third Class City if the property is located in an area targeted for revitalization, unless the city and school district have passed a resolution approving the purchase.
Rules & Executive Nominations
The Senate Rules & Executive Nominations Committee approved Senate Resolution 384 on Tuesday. The Resolution extends the temporary emergency Rules of the Senate. The Resolution was later adopted by the Senate.
The Senate State Government Committee approved two measures on Tuesday.
Senate Resolution 377 calls for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution establishing term limits for members of Congress.
Senate Bill 1242 provides for legislative and congressional redistricting.
Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness
The Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee approved two bills on Monday.
Senate Bill 1246 creates a statewide system of medals to honor the service of law enforcement officers.
House Bill 2022 establishes the Veterans’ Outreach and Support Network Program to provide veterans and family members additional services when transitioning from military service to civilian life.
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