Senator John DiSanto E-Newsletter

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Week of May 21, 2018

In this Edition:

  • DiSanto to Host Seminars on Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft
  • Committee Passes DiSanto Bill Authorizing Education Savings Accounts
  • Senate Approves Measure Targeting Domestic Violence in Front of Children
  • Senate Boosts Transparency on Government Spending for Contractors
  • Bills Provide More Flexibility for Cheaper Municipal Purchases
  • Bill Expands State Restitution Law
  • Other Bills Approved by the Senate
  • Committee Roundup
  • Keep Up with I-83 Capital Beltway Construction Projects
  • Employers: WEDnetPA Provides Employee Training to Boost Competitive Edge
  • Community Calendar
  • Up Next

DiSanto to Host Seminars on Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft

I will be hosting three seminars to provide constituents with tips to safeguard their identities. The free forums will feature Jerry Mitchell, Education and Outreach Specialist with the Office of the Attorney General.

I invite constituents to register for these free seminars to learn how to prevent identity theft, how to recognize the signs that their personal information may have been compromised, and the steps to take if they think their identity has been stolen.

June 5th
2 p.m. – 3 p.m.
Madeline L. Olewine Memorial Library
2410 North Third St., Harrisburg

June 14th
11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
William H. & Marion C. Alexander Family Library
200 West Second Street, Hummelstown

June 14th
2 p.m. – 3 p.m.
East Shore Area Library
4501 Ethel Street, Lower Paxton Township

For more information or to register please contact my office at 717-787-6801. Seating is limited.

Committee Passes DiSanto Bill Authorizing Education Savings Accounts

Legislation I am sponsoring to authorize education savings accounts (ESAs) for students in the lowest 15 percent performing public schools in the state was approved Tuesday by the Senate Education Committee.

Under Senate Bill 2, the state share of education dollars available for families with ESAs would average $5,700 and be deposited into restricted-use, online accounts controlled by parents and supervised by the state. The local school district would keep approximately two-thirds of their total per student funding despite no longer having to educate these students. This bill can reduce class sizes and increase per-student spending in underperforming school districts.

Participating families could spend ESA funds on a variety of educational services including: private school tuition, curriculum, certified tutoring, and approved therapies for students with special needs. Schools receiving ESA dollars will be subject to accountability and student achievement measures, the results of which will be publicly accessible.

I am grateful to my fellow members of the Education Committee for sending a lifeline to kids who, because of their zip code and modest family finances, may be trapped in a low performing school that isn’t meeting their educational needs.

ESAs fulfill the mission of public education, which is to ensure all children have access to a high-quality education and can reach their maximum potential. We should give kids in the poorest performing public schools a real opportunity to get the education that works for them. I call on the full Senate to take up this bill soon.

Senate Approves Measure Targeting Domestic Violence in Front of Children

The Senate approved legislation Wednesday that would lead to tougher sentences for crimes of domestic violence committed in front of children.

Senate Bill 1092 provides for a sentence enhancement within the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing’s guidelines for simple and aggravated assault.

According to research, half of domestic violence crimes were committed in the presence of at least one child. When these children grow up they are more likely to engage in dangerous behavior and are more likely to become an abuser or be abused themselves.

Under Senate Bill 1092, range of sentences would be based on such aggravating circumstances as the assault was committed against a family or household member and the defendant knew the crime was witnessed, either through sight or sound, by a minor who is also a family or household member of the defendant or the victim.

Passage of Senate Bill 1092 follows March’s Senate passage of a crime victims package targeting domestic abuse.

Senate Boosts Transparency on Government Spending for Contractors 

The Senate this week approved a measure that will increase government transparency by requiring the Department of Insurance to detail its spending for outside contractors.

Senate Bill 1031 requires the Department of Insurance to submit an annual report detailing its spending for third-party contractors to conduct fiscal examinations of insurance companies doing business in Pennsylvania.

Fiscal inspections are an important safeguard for consumers, to ensure that insurance companies are financially responsible. And, it is understandable that the Department may need to contract with outside agencies to perform those exams.

However, the Department must take every step possible to ensure those contractors are performing those duties in a responsible manner that does not place an undue burden on insurance companies, consumers, and taxpayers.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Bills Provide More Flexibility for Cheaper Municipal Purchases 

The Senate passed a package of bills on Tuesday to allow many Pennsylvania municipalities to purchase used equipment, vehicles and other personal property from volunteer emergency service organizations without competitive bidding.

Lifting that mandate would cut costs and ultimately save taxpayer money. The bills in the package are: Senate Bill 801 (boroughs and third-class cities), Senate Bill 802 (first-class townships), Senate Bill 803 (second-class townships), and Senate Bill 804 (incorporated towns).

Under the bills, a municipality – acting on behalf of its volunteer fire company — would be permitted to buy a used fire truck from a volunteer fire department serving a nearby municipality without public bidding. The municipality and the organization selling the equipment could agree to a lower than market price for the fire truck since both municipalities and departments would benefit from the transaction.

Municipalities would also save the advertising and administrative costs associated with preparing a notice for requests for bids. The average cost to publish in a medium size paper in the Legal Notice section for a full page is about $6,800, half-page $3,400 and quarter-page $1,700.

Bill Expands State Restitution Law

The Senate passed legislation on Tuesday that would allow governments, organizations and businesses to collect restitution if they’re victims of a crime.

Senate Bill 897 closes a loophole in state law that defines a victim specifically as an individual who has suffered physical or mental injury, death or the loss of earnings.  As a result of that limited definition, a recent Supreme Court ruling found that governmental entities and businesses are not eligible for reimbursement when they are victimized and suffer losses.

SB 897 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Other Bills Approved by the Senate

Senate Bill 189 amends Pennsylvania’s Crime Victims Act to allow victims to attend the entirety of criminal trials.

Senate Bill 257 increases parity in the eye care industry.

Senate Resolution 322 directs the Legislative Budget & Finance Committee to study the effectiveness of standardized testing.

Senate Bill 439 requires carbon monoxide detectors in child care facilities.

House Bill 566 provides for the suspension of services by a contractor or a subcontractor if timely payment is not received in accordance with the terms of a construction contract. The bill returns to the House of Representative for concurrence on Senate amendments. I voted against this bill because I believe the proposal unnecessarily interferes in private contracts and each party’s ability to negotiate their most favorable terms.

Senate Bill 652 enhances the penalties for those who criminally trespass on “critical infrastructure facilities.”

Senate Bill 1038 amends the Pennsylvania Election Code regarding residual funds.

Senate Bill 1101 reduces the need for some consumers to obtain a recovered theft vehicle title by creating a damage threshold that would trigger this requirement.

Senate Bill 1104 changes the certification requirements for vocational teachers.

House Bill 1952 addresses a state Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision that impacts Pennsylvania’s sexual offender registration act. The bill returns to the House of Representative for concurrence on Senate amendments.

Senate Bill 630 bill reforms insurance licensure requirements for travel agents. This bill was sent to the Governor for enactment.

Committee Roundup 

Agriculture & Rural Affairs

The Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee approved two bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 819 provides uniformity and protection for agritourism activities.

Senate Bill 1171 replaces the Nutrient Management Advisory Board with a new Farm Animal Advisory Board to give animal farmers greater input into environmental regulations.

Appropriations

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved 18 bills on Monday.

House Bill 99 allows boroughs to enter contracts or make purchases without advertising, bidding or price quotations in emergency situations.

Senate Bill 655 requires mandatory implementation of opioid prescribing guidelines developed by the Safe and Effective Prescribing Practices Task Force.

Senate Bill 771 amends the Borough Code and Third Class City Code to provide for concise publication of required annual financial reporting information, thus saving boroughs and cities, and their taxpayers, money.

Senate Bill 772 amends the First Class Township Code to provide for concise publication of required annual financial reporting information, thus saving boroughs and cities, and their taxpayers, money.

Senate Bill 773 amends state law regarding incorporated towns to provide for concise publication of required annual financial reporting information, thus saving boroughs and cities, and their taxpayers, money.

Senate Bill 801 allows boroughs and third-class cities to purchase used equipment, vehicles and other personal property from volunteer emergency service organizations without competitive bidding.

Senate Bill 802 allows first-class townships to purchase used equipment, vehicles and other personal property from volunteer emergency service organizations without competitive bidding.

Senate Bill 803 allows second-class townships to purchase used equipment, vehicles and other personal property from volunteer emergency service organizations without competitive bidding.

Senate Bill 804 allows incorporated towns to purchase used equipment, vehicles and other personal property from volunteer emergency service organizations without competitive bidding.

Senate Bill 947 increases the threshold for requiring public advertising for bids from $1,000 to $2,000 when boroughs and third-class cities sell their personal property.

Senate Bill 948 increases the threshold for requiring public advertising for bids from $1,000 to $2,000 when first-class townships sell their personal property.

Senate Bill 949 increases the threshold for requiring public advertising for bids from $1,000 to $2,000 when incorporated towns sell their personal property.

Senate Bill 1005 makes numerous changes to the County Code.

House Bill 1034 creates a standardized procedure for the way authorities handle funds and provides for audits and fiscal reports.

Senate Bill 1047 eliminates the Pittsburgh Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority.

Senate Bill 1104 changes the certification requirements for vocational teachers.

Senate Bill 1127 increases the penalties for the fraudulent traffic of food orders, otherwise more commonly known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits.

House Bill 1793 creates the Pennsylvania Commission for the United States Semiquincentennial.

The Appropriations Committee approved six bills on Tuesday.

House Bill 126 allows certain entities to have non-patient specific epinephrine auto-injectors.

Senate Bill 257 increases parity in the eye care industry.

Senate Bill 357 provides for the offense of Aggravated Assault by a Person in Custody if the individual tries to cause another person to come into contact with blood, seminal fluid, saliva, urine or feces by throwing, tossing, spitting or expelling such fluid or material.

Senate Bill 652 enhances the penalties for those who criminally trespass on “critical infrastructure facilities.”

Senate Bill 1092 amends the Crimes Code to create an offense for domestic violence in front of children.

House Bill 1917 provides for additional qualifications for the appointment, training, oversight and continuing education for humane society police officers.

On Wednesday, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Health & Human Services held a public hearing to hear from school officials on the importance of mental health services in ensuring school safety.

Hearing Video

Banking & Insurance

The Senate Appropriations Committee amended and approved House Bill 152 on Wednesday. The bill requires the Insurance Department to administer and maintain a database of life insurance policies to search for potential beneficiaries.

Education

The Senate Education Committee approved five measures on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 2 establishes education savings accounts. 

Senate Resolution 322 directs the Legislative Budget & Finance Committee to study the effectiveness of standardized testing.

House Bill 564 requires students to pass a test that is identical to the civics test produced by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services as a condition of high school graduation.

Senate Bill 1032 requires comprehensive financial reporting by the State Board of Education during the regulation process.

Senate Bill 1159 creates a centralized repository for student records of institutions licensed through the “Private Licensed School Board.”

Finance

The Senate Finance Committee approved three bills on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 37 provides for a sales tax exemption on the purchase of firearm safes and vaults.

House Bill 994 clarifies that the sales of telephones, telephone numbers, modems, tablets and related accessories, including cases, chargers, holsters, clips, hands free devices, screen protectors and batteries are not subject to the gross receipts tax.

Senate Bill 1058 changes the reporting standards by which securities are determined to be abandoned and unclaimed.

Health & Human Services

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee approved three bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 1001 empowers the Department of Health to declare public health emergencies in certain cases.

Senate Bill 1054 requires the licensing of prescribers of Suboxone, also known by its generic name – Buprenorphine.

Senate Bill 1089 addresses the disparity in access standard for substance abuse center services between urban and rural areas.

State Government

The Senate State Government Committee approved two bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 22 provides for a Redistricting Commission of independent citizens.

Senate Bill 1037 reforms and modernizes the Pennsylvania Civil Service Commission.

Transportation

The Senate Transportation Committee approved three bills on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 249 waives Turnpike tolls for emergency vehicles when either directly responding to an emergency situation or participating in the escort of a fallen firefighter, ambulance service or rescue squad member, law enforcement officer or armed service member killed in the line of duty.

Senate Bill 1156 renames roads and bridges.

House Bill 1646 increases the penalty for careless driving resulting in the death, serious bodily injury, or bodily injury to a pedestrian, or a person on roller skates, inline skates, a skateboard, motor-driven cycle, motorcycle, pedalcycle, motorized pedalcycle, pedalcycle with electric assist, an animal, an animal-drawn vehicle, a farm vehicle or a wheelchair.

On Tuesday, the committee met to consider the re-nomination of Pat Deon to the PA Turnpike Commission, and held a public hearing on Turnpike budget and program priorities.

Hearing Video

Keep Up with I-83 Capital Beltway Construction Projects

The I-83 corridor is undergoing significant upgrades that will lead to better roads but will require new traffic patterns and occasional delays during construction.

The projects address worsening roadway conditions, high traffic volumes and congestion, and safety. The roadway was designed more than 50 years ago and does not include the modern safety features needed for roadways that have many vehicles traveling at high speeds.

You can find the latest information on construction at I-83 Beltway.com. It covers several sections of the East Shore and West Shore, and includes construction timelines and projected dates of completion.

A new page has been added to the website to explain the transportation project development process.

Employers: WEDnetPA Provides Employee Training to Boost Competitive Edge

Successful companies are the key component to a healthy Pennsylvania economy. They employ residents, provide family sustaining wages, generate tax revenue and attract other companies to the Commonwealth.

The Department of Community and Economic Development’s Workforce and Economic Development Network of Pennsylvania, WEDnetPA, provides qualified employers training for new and existing employees. The training allows companies to stay competitive by keeping employee skills current and relevant.

Eligible in-state businesses and out-of-state companies relocating to Pennsylvania may apply to WEDnetPA to access training funds. The funding can be used for a wide range of training, categorized as either Essential Skills Training or Advanced Technology Training.

More information can be found at www.wednetpa.com.

Community Calendar

May 26-28 — Gamut Theatre Group’s Popcorn Hat Players will host KIDSFEST, the children’s section of Artsfest of greater Harrisburg.

June 16 – Elizabethville Area Community Alliance car show to raise funds for the Elizabethville Community Pool and Splash Pad project.

Up Next

The Senate returns to voting session on Monday, June 4 at 1 p.m. You can watch session live at SenatorDiSanto.com.

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