Both the Senate and the House of Representatives were in Harrisburg for three days of session, making this a busier week than we’ve seen in a while. On Monday, the House Labor and Industry Committee met to consider two bills, H.B. 861 (Grove, R-York), which would preempt local governments from passing state mandated labor policies, and H.B. 2571 (Klunk, R-York), which would make nonmembers of public-sector unions aware of their right to not contribute their “fair share fee” to the union. Both bills were reported out with the Democratic members voting in the negative.
The House Education Committee also met, and reported out S.B. 1095 (McGarrigle, R-Delaware), which would allow students to show readiness for graduation through tests or assignments other than the Keystone Exams; S.R. 228 (Eichelberger, R-Blair), which would establish a Global Education Task Force that would ensure students are ready to graduate and be competitive in the global economy; and H.B. 1822 (Schlossberg, D-Lehigh), which would require higher education institutions to establish student mental health and suicide prevention plans.
Also on Monday, the House Insurance Committee met to consider S.B. 1003 (White, R-Indiana), which would provide for reimbursement for emergency services where a person is not transported and the House Commerce Committee reported out H.B. 32 (Thomas, D-Philadelphia), which would create a commission to centralize the Commonwealth’s cybersecurity policies and oversee their implementation. Finally, the House Professional Licensure Committee reported out S.B. 780 (Vogel, R-Beaver), which would authorize healthcare providers to use telemedicine and require insurers to provide coverage and reimbursement for its use, and the House Transportation Committee reported out H.R. 1057 (Kaufer, R-Luzerne), which would direct the Legislative Budget & Finance Committee to conduct a study for the potential of a hyperloop rail system that would run from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia.
On the other side of the building, the Senate Appropriations Committee reported out three health care related bills: S.B. 623 (Yaw, R-Lycoming), which would update and revise the law to include the codification of Pennsylvania Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST); H.B. 353 (Nesbit, R-Erie), which would require the electronic prescribing of opioid medication; and H.B. 1613 (Cutler, R-Lancaster), which would reauthorize and modernize the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4). Also, the Senate Aging and Youth Committee reported out H.B. 1527 (Stephens, R-Montgomery), which would require mandated reporters to report incidents of child abuse against unidentifiable children, not just those under their care or supervision.
Tuesday brought another busy day, starting with the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, which reported out S.B. 652 (Regan, R-Cumberland), which would enhance penalties for those who criminally trespass on critical infrastructure facilities. The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee held a public hearing to review and discuss foreign influence on natural gas development in Pennsylvania and favorably voted on H.B. 2154 (Causer, R-McKean), which would update and modernize the Oil and Gas Act.
The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee reported out two bills on Tuesday: H.B. 2211 (Ward, R-Blair), which would expand the ability of pharmacists to provide cost-related prescription drug information to patients and H.B. 1013 (Barrar, R-Delaware), which would require emergency medical services agencies be reimbursed for services provided even if transport to a hospital does not take place. H.B. 1013 also addresses vision care in health insurance policies.
Also, the Senate Education Committee sent three bills to the floor for consideration: H.B. 1386 (Hill, R-York), which would modify the levels of teacher instructional certificates by grade and age; S.R. 292 (White, R-Indiana), which would direct the Joint State Government Commission to study immunization policies for students at institutions of higher education and S.R. 417 (Dinniman, D-Chester), which would direct the Joint State Government Commission to study secondary school start times.
The Senate Consumer Protection and professional Licensure Committee reported out H.B. 2075 (Charlton, R-Delaware), which would permit a water public utility to utilize rate recovery in order to recoup the costs of replacing customer-owned lead water service lines. The House Health Committee reported out H.B. 2520 (Jozwiak, R-Berks) which would establish an advisory council relating to Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANS) and Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders (PANDAS). In addition, the Senate Appropriations Committee reported out S.B. 899 (Mensch, R-Montgomery), which modernizes the Older Adults Protective Services Act, H.B. 104 (Godshall, R-Montgomery), which would provide additional transparency over municipal authority acquisitions and enhanced reporting requirements, and H.B. 1800 (Nelson, R-Westmoreland), which would allow pharmacies to synchronize multiple medication fill dates.
Finally, Senate Law and Justice Committee held a public hearing to consider the reappointment of Michael Negra to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. The nomination was unanimously returned to the full Senate favorably.
Tuesday brought some action on both the House and Senate floors, as well.
On the House floor:
- H.B. 126 (Warner, R-Fayette), which would provide training for epi-pen use and allows for more access to cancer clinical trials, unanimously passed with additional House amendments and will be considered by the Senate Rules and Executive Nominations Committee on Monday.
- H.B. 2473 (Godshall, R-Montgomery), which would make changes regarding assessments, accounts and audits of the Philadelphia Parking Authority, unanimously passed and heads to the Senate for consideration.
- S.B. 172 (Argall, R-Schuylkill), which would create an automated speed enforcement system pilot program for highway work zones, passed and will be considered by the Senate Rules and Executive Nominations Committee on Monday.
- S.B. 261 (Scarnati, R-Jefferson), which would allow individuals bringing a civil action arising from childhood sexual assault to have an additional two-year period to commence an action, passed with amendments and referred to the Senate Rules and Executive Nominations Committee.
The following bills passed finally in the Senate and head to the House for consideration:
- S.B. 31 (Scavello, R-Monroe), which would establish a spinal cord injury research program and allocate funding from the Tobacco Settlement Fund.
- SB 668 (Gordner, R-Columbia), which would modernize the Optometric Practice and Licensure Act.
- S.B. 1205 (Laughlin, R-Erie), which would provide the Insurance Commissioner with a summary of an insurer or insurance group’s corporate government structure, policies and practices.
This brings us to Wednesday, when the House Human Services Committee held a public hearing to learn more about the role and importance of short and long term licensed residential addiction treatment. The House Children and Youth Committee reported out H.B. 2641 (Stephens, R-Montgomery), which would increase the penalties for mandated reporters for failing to report suspected child abuse.
On the Senate Side, the Senate Transportation Committee reported out H.B. 1811 (Rothman, R-Cumberland), which would regulate the use of automated license plate readers. Also, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee reported out a number of health care related bills:
- H.B. 122 (Kaufer, R-Luzerne), which would establish a Project Lazarus Commission to review and make recommendations related to overdose prevention efforts.
- H.B. 1532 (Hill, R-York), which would provide Medicaid managed care organizations with the ability to query the Achieving Better Care by Monitoring All Prescription Program (ABC-MAP) electronic prescription monitoring system.
- H.B. 1884 (Quinn, R-Bucks), which would require a summary or impression of certain diagnostic imaging services to be sent directly to the patient within 20 days of the results being sent to the patient’s physician if the results include a significant abnormality.
- S.B. 1220 (Schwank, D-Berks), which would establish an advisory council relating to Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANS) and Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders (PANDAS).
- S.B. 1237 (Baker, R-Luzerne), which would establish the Rural Health Redesign Center Authority, aimed to promote access to high quality health care to residents of rural areas.
- S.B. 912 (Brooks, R-Erie) and H.B. 1829 (Bernstine, R-Lawrence), which would extend presumptive eligibility to those who meet the qualifications for Medicaid and who wish to remain in their own homes.
On the House floor, H.B. 2060 (Quinn, R-Bucks), which would provide for the relinquishment of firearms following a conviction of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence or the issuance of a protection from abuse order not based on a consent agreement, passed after much debate and heads to the Senate for consideration. The Senate Judiciary Committee will consider this legislation on Monday.
In the upper chamber, the Senate unanimously passed the following bills that will go to the House for their consideration:
- S.B. 1066 (Mensch, R-Montgomery), which would create a first-time homebuyers savings account program
- S.B. 1096 (Browne, R-Lehigh), which would authorize the use of highly automated work zone vehicles and platooning
- S.B. 1098 (Browne, R-Lehigh), which would provide for the use of stop-arm cameras on school buses
- S.B. 1181 (Reschenthaler, R-Allegheny), which would require depression screenings for students beginning in sixth grade
The Week Ahead
It’s an unusual schedule next week: the House will hold voting session on Monday, and then non-voting session on Tuesday, while the Senate has scheduled three session days.
On Monday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a public hearing on issues relating to the juvenile justice system. Also, the Senate Rules and Executive Nominations Committee will consider S.B. 180 (Greenleaf, R-Montgomery), which would make changes to various provisions regarding organ donation.
Tuesday, the Senate Education Committee will consider H.B. 2159 (Staats, R-Bucks), which would expand the current database that allows students to plan where courses, programs, certificates and diplomas transfer among public schools and institutions of higher education. The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on H.B. 1931 (Taylor, R-Philadelphia), which addresses illegal trespassing on residential properties.
On Wednesday, the Senate Finance Committee will consider H.B. 645 (O’Neill, R-Bucks), which would increase the allocation for the Neighborhood Assistance Tax Credit Program.
Full list of committee meetings:
Anticipated floor action:
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