Senator John DiSanto E-Newsletter

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Week of June 3, 2019

In this Update:

  • DiSanto Telephone Town Hall set for June 12
  • DiSanto’s Aging & Youth Committee Passes Key Adoption and Prescription Assistance Legislation
  • Senate Passes “GI Bill for Families”
  • Senate Approves Criminal Justice Reform Measures
  • Senate Targets Domestic Violence with Bill on Classification of Strangulation Crime
  • Other Bills Approved by the Senate and sent to the House
  • Senate Bill Expanding CPR Training in Schools set for Enactment
  • Other Bills sent to the Governor
  • Committee Roundup
  • Community Spotlight
  • Community Calendar
  • Next Week

Senator DiSanto speaks to fellow motorcyclists during a rally at the Pennsylvania Capitol this week.

DiSanto to Host Telephone Town Hall June 12

You’re invited to take part in my telephone town hall with local residents next Wednesday, June 12, at 6 p.m.

The tele-town hall gives residents a chance to discuss state issues with me from the comfort of their homes. Your input is extremely important and I am looking forward to the conversation.

Residents who are interested in participating in the telephone town hall meeting can sign up here.

DiSanto’s Aging & Youth Committee Passes Key Adoption and Prescription Assistance Legislation

On Monday, I chaired a Senate Aging and Youth Committee meeting to consider bills that will re-establish adoption subsidies for foster youth as well as proposals to further assist Pennsylvania seniors with the cost of prescription medications.

Senate Bill 669 reinstates the Kinship Care and Subsidized Permanent Legal Custodianship Program. These programs encourage and promote the placement of children who haven’t found permanent adoptive homes.

I was pleased to introduce and advance this key legislation that builds positive connections between a child and their extended family network. By ensuring federal adoption subsidies continue to support kinship care, we maintain important family connections.

The three remaining bills considered by the committee ensure more Pennsylvania seniors are able to benefit from PACE and PACENET, which provide critical assistance with the cost of medications. These programs have helped millions of older Pennsylvanians afford prescription drugs and are regarded as national models for pharmaceutical assistance programs.

HB 375 and HB 684 exclude from the definition of income any veterans’ disability payments or principal and interest accrued from savings bonds when determining eligibility for the programs. HB 754 extends a moratorium on increases in income due to a Social Security cost-of-living increase impacting eligiblity, in order to prevent nearly 10,000 seniors from becoming ineligible for PACE and PACENET.

All four bills received the committee’s unanimous support and advance to the full Senate for consideration.

Senate Passes “GI Bill for Families”

The Pennsylvania Senate unanimously passed legislation on Tuesday that would provide free college education to the spouse or child of Pennsylvania National Guard members who re-enlist.

Senate Bill 589 would establish a “Pennsylvania GI Bill for Families” to provide five years’ worth of higher education benefits to the spouse and/or children of a Pennsylvania National Guard member who commits to serve another six years.

This program is aimed at increasing the retention rates in the National Guard and attract transitioning military service members to Pennsylvania. The National Guard Educational Assistance Program provides men and women a free college education – based on the tuition rate at the State System of Higher Education – in exchange for a six-year commitment in the Pennsylvania National Guard.

Since 1996, more than 50,000 Army and Air Guard members – or nearly 2,500 a year – have taken advantage of this program. In return, our Pennsylvania National Guard — the second-largest in the nation at 18,500 members — has remained strong, both at home and abroad. Pennsylvania’s program was the first in the nation and has been replicated across the states.

Senate Approves Criminal Justice Reform Measures

The Senate approved a bipartisan package of criminal justice reforms on Wednesday that will reduce prison and probation costs, better protect crime victims and strengthen public safety.

Senate Bill 500 creates a County Adult Probation and Parole Advisory Committee to help counties better assess the unique risks and needs of probationers to reduce incarceration and cut costs to taxpayers.

Senate Bill 501 streamlines the placement of offenders in drug treatment programs and other intermediate punishment programs, and improve and expedite the parole process for non-violent offenders.

Senate Bill 502 improves communications with crime victims and ensure they receive any compensation they are owed.

The bills build on the success of Justice Reinvestment Initiative measures approved in 2012 to reduce prison costs to taxpayers and reinvest the savings in programs to improve public safety.

Over the past six years, the inmate population in state prisons has been reduced by more than 4,000, and the crime rate has decreased by approximately 18 percent, saving $400 million in projected costs to taxpayers.

Senate Targets Domestic Violence with Bill on Classification of Strangulation Crime

The Senate passed a measure on Monday that would allow cases of strangulation to be considered in sentencing for subsequent crimes and in child custody proceedings.

The General Assembly approved a law in 2016 that created the criminal offense of strangulation. Senate Bill 275 would fully integrate that offense in Pennsylvania’s laws to ensure strangulation is classified in the same way as other similar violent crimes.

Nearly half of all domestic violence homicide victims had previously experienced at least one episode of attempted strangulation, and 47 percent of female domestic violence victims report being choked.

The measure is supported by the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association, the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape.

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

Other Bills Approved by the Senate and sent to the House

 Senate Bill 139 amends the Pennsylvania Price Gouging Act to ensure that a Governor’s emergency declaration does not place an undue and unnecessary burden on operations and businesses outside of and unrelated to the disaster.

House Bill 223 conveys land in Asylum Township, Bradford County, to French Azilum, Inc. The bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.

Senate Bill 538 conveys to the Cumberland Valley Rails-to-Trails Council a permanent easement for land owned by Shippensburg University for a parking lot.

Senate Bill 617 conveys land in the Borough of Lewistown to Mifflin County.

Senate Bill Expanding CPR Training in Schools set for Enactment

The Senate gave final approval on Tuesday to a bill aimed at saving lives through greater education and training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Senate Bill 115 would strengthen academic guidelines in schools for CPR training in grades nine through 12, while adding hands-only CPR instruction to Pennsylvania’s education curriculum. The bill now goes to the governor for his signature.

This legislation is a top priority of the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association. It is also supported by the Pennsylvania State Education Association, Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Athletic Trainers Society and Independence Blue Cross.

Other Bills sent to the Governor

House Bill 275, which changes the name of the “Early Intervention Program” under the Municipalities Financial Recovery Act to the “Strategic Management Planning Program.”

Senate Bill 441, which designates the State Route 2087 bridge over the East Branch Codorus Creek in York County as the Sgt. Christopher M. Wrinkle and Tosca Memorial Bridge.

Committee Roundup

Aging & Youth

House Bill 375 eliminates state veterans’ benefits from the definition of “income” for PACE and PACENET eligibility determinations.

Senate Bill 669 reinstates permanent legal custodian and adoption assistance subsidies to children from 18 to 21 years of age.

House Bill 684 excludes the principal and interest accrued from savings bonds in the determination of eligibility for PACE and PACENET.

House Bill 754 provides that PACE and PACENET enrollees will not lose their benefits if they exceed the maximum income limit due solely to a Social Security cost-of-living adjustment.

Agriculture & Rural Affairs

House Bill 370 addresses provisions for farmland preservation.

House Bill 404 adds Ailanthus Altissima (commonly known as tree of heaven and favored food of the Spotted Lanternfly) to the Noxious Weed List.

Senate Bill 634 creates a “Conservation Excellence Grant Program” to provide financial and technical assistance to farmers to install and implement best management practices.

Appropriations

Senate Bill 112 limits prescriptions for a controlled substance containing an opioid to seven days unless there is a medical emergency that puts the patients’ health or safety at risk.

Senate Bill 139 amends the Pennsylvania Price Gouging Act to ensure that a Governor’s emergency declaration does not place an undue and unnecessary burden on operations and businesses outside of and unrelated to the disaster.

House Bill 318 prohibits telemarketing on legal holidays and provides robocall requirements.

Senate Bill 500 creates a County Adult Probation and Parole Advisory Committee.

Senate Bill 501 streamlines the process for placement in intermediate punishment, allows parole agents to quickly detain parolees for violations, and streamlines the process for paroling people who receive a short sentence to prison.

Senate Bill 502 amends the Crime Victims Act to better provide information and compensation to victims.

Senate Bill 543 provides a rate increase for the River Pilots who navigate trade vessels along the Delaware River and its navigable tributaries.

House Bill 547 amends the First Class Township Code to allow townships to set their annual assessment of the property tax millage rate by resolution.

House Bill 548 amends the Borough Code and the Third Class City Code to enable boroughs and third class cities to assess their annual property tax millage rate by resolution.

Senate Bill 589 creates the Military Family Education Program – or “PA Family GI Bill” – that will allow Guard members to earn educational benefits for their spouse and/or children by committing to a second six-year enlistment.

Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure

Senate Bill 356 provides for professional license portability for military spouses.

Senate Bill 698 amends the Medical Practice Act to let physicians use a designee to input information about written agreements into the Department of State’s new online PALS licensing system.

Senate Bill 699 amends the Osteopathic Practice Act to let physicians use a designee to input information about written agreements into the Department of State’s new online PALS licensing system.

House Bill 1166 increases the fees paid for river pilot services on the Delaware River and Bay beginning in 2020.

House Bill 1172 establishes an endorsement process for boards and commissions under the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs for the issuance of licenses to applicants who are licensed to practice in another state.

Education

Senate Bill 462 repeals outdated School Code provisions.

Senate Bill 536 creates the Public Higher Education Commission.

Senate Bill 590 creates the Charter School Funding Advisory Commission.

Senate Bill 700 implements recommendations from the Public School Building Construction and Reconstruction (PlanCon) Advisory Committee.

The Education Committee also approved two bills on Wednesday.

House Bill 800 makes changes to the Educational Improvement Tax Credit and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit programs concerning definitions and limitations.

House Bill 1210 repeals outdated School Code provisions.

Environmental Resources & Energy

Senate Bill 108 creates the Pennsylvania Keystone Tree Fund.

Senate Bill 305 declares that a ban implemented by the Delaware River Basin Commission will constitute a taking that must be paid for by the Commission.

Senate Bill 575 creates a nutrient procurement program.

Senate Bill 619 amends the Clean Streams Law to address accidental discharges or spills of substances.

On Wednesday, the committee held a public hearing on the use of third parties to review DEP permits. Hearing Video & Written Testimony

Finance

Senate Bill 116 amends the state Constitution to establish the “Taxpayer Protection Act.”

Senate Bill 712 extends the authority of the State Treasurer to invest funds in the State Treasury according to the prudent person investment standard until 2024.

Health & Human Services

Senate Bill 314 creates the Pennsylvania Rural Health Redesign Center Authority and the Pennsylvania Rural Health Redesign Center Fund.

Senate Bill 432 allows Medicaid Managed Care Organizations to have access to information in the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.

Senate Bill 454 increases transparency on rates for autism and intellectual disability services.

Senate Bill 569 limits the use of fentanyl to only operating rooms.

Senate Bill 572 requires patients prescribed opioids to enter into treatment agreements with a prescriber to ensure they understand the risks of addiction and dangers of overdose.

Senate Bill 633 provides the Governor with the power to declare public health emergencies.

Senate Bill 675 provides for the licensure of office-based Suboxone prescribers and ensures that patients receive addiction counseling and treatment.

Senate Bill 695 reauthorizes certain provisions of the Human Services Code before they sunset on June 30, 2019.

House Bill 856 reinstates adoption and permanent legal custodian subsidies.

Judiciary

Senate Bill 93 makes the delivery or distribution of an illicit drug that results in “serious bodily injury” to the user a second-degree felony.

Senate Bill 107 protects employees at non-secure youth shelters against assault and abuse.

Senate Bill 351 provides that an assault against a health care practitioner would be considered an aggravated assault.

Law & Justice

On Monday, the Senate Law and Justice Committee and House Liquor Control Committee held a public hearing on flexible pricing of wine and spirits though the PA Liquor Control Board. Hearing Video

State Government

House Bill 619 establishes June 19 as “Juneteenth National Freedom Day.”

Senate Bill 701 provides for the conveyance of the former Allentown State Hospital property.

On Tuesday, the committee held a confirmation hearing to consider the nomination of Kathy Boockvar as the Secretary of the Commonwealth. Hearing Video

Urban Affairs and Housing Committee

On Wednesday, the Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee held a public hearing on PA Housing Finance Agency programs. Hearing Video

Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness

Senate Bill 223 allows Emergency Medical Services providers to leave a dose of naloxone with a caregiver of a patient who overdosed on opioids.

House Bill 807 requires the compensation of general officers to be commensurate with Federal military base pay.

Community Spotlight

Venturing is a co-ed program that began in 1998 through the Boy Scouts of America for young adults aged 14-21. Venturing is 100% youth led, with guidance from adult advisors. The Venturing program emphasizes Adventure, Leadership, Personal Growth and Service. Venturing Crew 35, chartered by the Linglestown Fire Company, started in 2017 to serve the Harrisburg area.   For more information or to get involved, visit www.venturing.org or email: ebelfantisr@gmail.com. You can also find out more about their high adventure activities by searching Facebook for Venturing Crew 35 Harrisburg.

Community Calendar

June 11 – Dauphin County Voting System Expo & Open House, Susquehanna Twp High School Gymnasium, 4 – 8 pm. Call 717-780-6300 by June 10 to RSVP.

June 11 – Unveiling of the Iconic Orator’s Pedestal, “A Gathering at the Crossroads,” 4 p.m. in the Atrium of Strawberry Square. This pedestal will become part of a monument commemorating the residents of the Old Eighth Ward of Harrisburg.

June 15 – Elizabethville Area Community Alliance Car Show, Ritescreen Parking Lot. For more information, visit Facebook @Elizabethvillepool.

If you’d like your community organization or event featured in Community Spotlight or Calendar, please send request for consideration to jdisanto@pasen.gov.

Next Week

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

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