Senator John DiSanto E-Newsletter

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Week of November 18, 2019

In this Update:

  • Senate Approves DiSanto Occupational Licensure Reform Bill
  • Senate Acts to Provide New Protections for Sexual Abuse Survivors, Statute of Limitations Reforms
  • DiSanto Convenes Voting Meeting to Strengthen Child Protections
  • Senate Approves Increase in State Minimum Wage
  • Legislation Cracking Down on Human Trafficking Approved by Senate
  • Senate Passes Bill to Prohibit Abortion Based Solely on Down Syndrome Diagnosis
  • Senate Acts to Generate New Private Resources to Fight Pediatric Cancer
  • Senate Passes Bill to Expand Job Training Opportunities and Protect Students
  • Senate Approves Bill to Make Online Training Available to Firefighters
  • DiSanto Schedules Tele-Town Hall for December 4
  • Other Bills Sent to the Governor
  • Other Bills sent to the House
  • Committee Roundup
  • Up Next

Senator DiSanto meets with local representatives of the Alzheimer’s Association to discuss updates to the Older Adults Protective Services Act.

Senate Approves DiSanto Occupational Licensure Reform Bill 

On Wednesday, the Senate unanimously approved my legislation to extend second chances for rehabilitated individuals seeking meaningful employment, while growing the commonwealth’s skilled workforce.

More than 1 in 5 jobs require a government issued license and, too often, qualified applicants are denied the right to work because of an old or irrelevant criminal record. My legislation provides balance and predictability to the occupational licensure process so that rehabilitated citizens have a fair chance to reintegrate into our communities.

Senate Bill 637 requires state licensing boards and commissions to apply a common set of rules when considering whether to deny, suspend, or revoke an occupational license on the basis of a criminal conviction. The proposal ends the practice of blanket prohibitions on job licenses for certain criminal records and eliminates undefined requirements that applicants present “good moral character.”

Senate Bill 637 provides a new level of transparency by making state boards and commissions publish the convictions they determine to be directly related to the duties, functions, and responsibilities of the occupation and requires individualized assessments of an applicant’s qualifications and fitness to perform the job. The bill also permits individuals unsure if their criminal record would prohibit them from obtaining an occupational license to petition a state licensing entity for a preliminary determination before investing the time and money into a job training program.

Senate Bill 637 has considerable bipartisan appeal in the General Assembly as well as a coalition of supportive stakeholders such as the Greater Harrisburg NAACP, the PA Chamber of Business and Industry, Community Legal Services, Americans for Tax Reform, the American Civil Liberties Union, Justice Action Network, and more. The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Senate Acts to Provide New Protections for Sexual Abuse Survivors, Statute of Limitations Reforms

The Senate approved a comprehensive package of bills Wednesday to support survivors of sexual abuse, including legislation to reform the statute of limitations to give survivors more time to come forward.

The package of legislation addresses all of the recommendations of a grand jury investigation that was released to the public last year. The bills are designed to ensure victims are supported and all perpetrators of sexual crimes against children are held responsible for their heinous actions.

The bills include:

  • House Bill 962, which would eliminate the criminal statute of limitations for the sexual abuse of a child, as well as associated crimes such as human trafficking. The bill also extends the deadline for civil actions from age 30 to age 55.
  • House Bill 963, which would amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to create a two-year window of time for retroactive lawsuits for victims whose statute of limitations has already expired. The legislation addresses concerns lawmakers raised last year about whether the two-year window was unconstitutional.
  • House Bill 1051, which clarifies mandatory reporting standards for suspected cases of abuse and increases penalties for mandated reporters who continue to fail to report suspected child abuse.
  • House Bill 1171, which ensures survivors who sign non-disclosure statements are not prohibited from speaking with law enforcement regarding their abuse.

The bills are a culmination of a years-long effort to create effective and permanent laws to ensure perpetrators of sexual offenses against young people are held accountable by the legal system.

The Senate passed a number of similar measures last year, including lifting the statute of limitations for all civil and criminal cases of child sex abuse.

DiSanto Convenes Voting Meeting to Strengthen Child Protections

As Chairman of the Senate Aging and Youth Committee, I held a voting meeting Monday to approve bills that strengthen penalties for failing to report child abuse and better track reports of infants born with drug or alcohol addiction.

House Bill 1051 was part of a sweeping package of bills later approved by the Senate to support survivors of sexual abuse, including legislation to reform the statute of limitations. HB 1051 clarifies mandatory reporting standards for suspected cases of abuse and increases penalties for mandated reporters who continue to fail to report suspected child abuse.

Reporting child abuse is not just a moral obligation, it is the law and this legislation clarifies and strengthens penalties for failing to protect children.

Senate Bill 368 requires the Department of Human Services to compile and publish online notification data from health care providers about the number of infants born affected by substance use or withdrawal symptoms resulting from prenatal drug or alcohol exposure.

In the midst of an opioid epidemic, this legislation will give lawmakers and the public insight on the trends of infants born with addiction so that we may focus on policies to decrease these numbers and devote proper resources for the care of these children. The bill advances to the full Senate for consideration.

Senate Approves Increase in State Minimum Wage

Legislation that would raise the state minimum wage to $9.50 per hour by 2022 was approved by the Senate on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 79 represents a compromise package that will phase in increases to the current $7.25 minimum wage rate incrementally as follows:

  • July 1, 2020: $8.00
  • January 1, 2021: $8.50
  • July 1, 2021: $9.00
  • January 1, 2022: $9.50

The federal minimum wage was last increased to $7.25 an hour in 2009. Pennsylvania is one of 21 states with a minimum wage set at the federal minimum. All of Pennsylvania’s neighboring states have higher minimum wages

This compromise represents a sound approach to raising the minimum wage in a manner that recognizes inflation has occurred since the previous increase, but not setting wages at a level that would eliminate the entry-level jobs currently available to those who need them.

Legislation Cracking Down on Human Trafficking Approved by Senate

The Senate on Wednesday passed legislation I am co-sponsoring that will combat human trafficking by enacting stronger penalties against all individuals who support the exploitation of victims.

Senate Bill 60 would increase penalties against any individual who patronizes a victim of human trafficking, including any individual who recruits, solicits, advertises, transports, or profits off a human trafficking victim. Tougher penalties are also levied for offenses committed against minors.

Human trafficking includes abhorrent crime of “sex slavery.” The average age a child is forced into sex slavery is 12 years old. This legislation builds on earlier efforts to shift the focus of state law from punishing the victims of trafficking to punishing those who traffic victims and those who would enable them.

Under the bill, the most serious offenders who directly participate in the trafficking of minors for prostitution and related crimes could face imprisonment of 40 years or more. Fines and penalties of up to $50,000 would be deposited into special funds to prevent human trafficking and support sexually exploited children. The bill was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Senate Passes Bill to Prohibit Abortion Based Solely on Down Syndrome Diagnosis

A bill that would prohibit the practice of selectively aborting babies based solely on a diagnosis of Down syndrome was approved by the Senate on Tuesday. Unfortunately, the measure was vetoed by the governor.

House Bill 321 would prohibit an abortion being deemed medically necessary based on a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome. Similar protections already exist to prevent babies from being aborted based solely on their gender.

Nothing in the bill would interfere with the existing ability of a woman to obtain an abortion in cases of rape, incest or endangerment to the mother. The bill is targeted only at protecting babies who would be aborted solely because of the possible presence of Down syndrome.

An estimated 67 percent of fetuses prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted in the United States.

Senate Acts to Generate New Private Resources to Fight Pediatric Cancer

The Senate approved a bill Monday that could generate up to $100 million in private donations over the next decade to support childhood cancer research.

Senate Bill 74 would create a tax credit program for qualifying donations to a Pennsylvania pediatric cancer research hospital. The credit would apply to donations made to:

  • The Center for Childhood Research, Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania.
  • Penn State Hershey Pediatric Hematology/Oncology.
  • Abramson Cancer Center, Penn Medicine.
  • The UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

According to the American Cancer Society, more children die from cancer than any other disease. However, the National Cancer Institute spends just 4 percent of its research dollars on pediatric cancer. Senate Bill 74 was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Senate Passes Bill to Expand Job Training Opportunities and Protect Students

On Monday, the Senate sent the governor a bill to expand the availability of job training programs, protect against improper school closures and help create a better system to maintain student records, and provide schools the ability to provide more institutional aid to students.

Senate Bill 456 would allow Private Licensed Schools, such as career and technical colleges and trade schools, to open a branch campus in a neighboring county or any other location within 60 miles of the main campus. Under current law, schools can only establish a branch campus in the same county as the primary campus.

The bill would also protect students against improper closures of schools by requiring potential school closures to be completed with proper notice to students, accreditors and the state, while also providing for a full teach-out, transfer and education succession plan for all enrolled students. Senate Bill 456 also gives schools the ability to provide direct institutional grants to students.

Senate Approves Bill to Make Online Training Available to Firefighters

The Senate gave final approval Monday to a measure to make firefighter training more accessible and affordable through online courses.

Senate Bill 146 ensures that online training would be voluntary and free to both career and volunteer firefighters. All available courses would be listed online and developed under the leadership of the state Fire Commissioner.

Training requirements are often cited as a barrier to recruitment and retention, particularly for volunteers, because they can be costly and time-consuming, often demanding travel and time away from work and family. Senate Bill 146 was sent to the governor to be signed into law.

DiSanto Schedules Tele-Town Hall for December 4

Because the Senate was in session until after 9:00 pm on November 20, my previously scheduled telephone town hall was postponed. The new date is December 4, 2019 from 6:00 – 7:00 pm.

Join me for this live telephone town hall to discuss important state-related issues impacting you and your neighbors in the 15th Senatorial District. You may listen in and ask me questions from the comfort of your own home via your telephone or live audio stream. Sign up here to register and receive a call for my next telephone town hall.

Other Bills Sent to the Governor

House Bill 17 establishes a 10-year time period for the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue to collect assessed personal income taxes.

House Bill 49 requires public schools to allow students to apply personal finance credits towards satisfying graduation requirements. It also clarifies the role of school police officers and extends the training deadline for school security personnel.

House Bill 57 disbands various outdated boards, commissions, committees and other entities.

House Bill 97 prohibits the sale, purchase or use of nicotine products or nicotine delivery systems by minors or pupils in schools.

House Bill 227 clarifies that school director candidates will be required to submit 10 signatures for nomination.

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

Senate Bill 317 amends the Second Class Township Code regarding mandatory annual budget requirements.

Senate Bill 473 increases the minimum legal sales age for tobacco products to 21 years of age. Senate Bill 572 establishes a procedure for prescribers to enter into treatment agreements with a patient prior to prescribing an opioid treatment course for chronic pain.

Senate Bill 733 provides for the Pennsylvania Gaming Economic Development and Tourism Fund Capital Budget for 2019.

House Bill 754 ensures 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.

House Bill 917 repeals Act 598 of 1929, an act authorizing municipalities, other than townships, to acquire, operate and maintain a hospital.

House Bill 947 sets the hours of operation for breweries, distilleries and limited distilleries.

House Bill 956 amends the State Lottery Law to lower the mandated margin rate of return from 25 percent to 20 percent for the five-year period beginning June 30, 2019 and ending on June 30, 2024.

House Bill 1203 requires that the annual audit of an authority must comply with state and federal standards and allows the incorporating municipality to request assistance from the Auditor General.

House Bill 1402 amends the Crimes Code to add a new offense of sexual extortion.

House Bill 1410 amends the Transit Revitalization Investment District Act by providing for military installation remediation and polyfluoroalkyl substances remediation.

House Bill 1547renames several roads and bridges and designates the interchange of U.S. Route 422 with Pennsylvania Route 66 in Manor Township, Armstrong County, as the Senator Donald C. White Interchange.

House Bill 1772 allows a property owner to use identifying purple paint marks on trees or posts to provide notice not to trespass on the property.

House Bill 1896 authorizes the release of a use restriction and reversionary interest affecting land in East Vincent Township, Chester County, conveys property in Centre County and addresses an easement in Chester County.

House Bill 1982 allows participating employers in SERS to pre-fund all or a portion of their “unfunded actuarial liability.”

Other Bills sent to the House

Senate Bill 60 combats human trafficking.

Senate Bill 67 addresses the adoption of the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact to allow for tele-psychological practice across state lines and temporary in-person services.

Senate Bill 327 requires executive, independent and state-affiliated agencies to report their space usage to the Department of General Services on an annual basis.

Senate Bill 596 establishes the Pennsylvania Clean Transportation Infrastructure Act. Senate Bill 637 creates a set of rules for consideration of criminal records in occupational licensure.

Senate Bill 842 will allow for the omission of health care workers’ last names from their identification badges.

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.

Senate Bill 906 institutes a moratorium on the closing of the Polk and White Haven State Centers.

House Bill 1542 addresses special occasion liquor permits. The bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.

Committee Roundup

Bills approved in committees & committee hearings.

Aging & Youth

Senate Bill 368 mandates real-time reporting of infants born with an opioid addiction and high susceptibility of withdrawal conditions.

House Bill 1051 increases the offense of willfully failing to report suspected child abuse by a mandated reporter when it is a “continuing course of action” from a first-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony.

Appropriations

House Bill 17 establishes a 10-year time period for the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue to collect assessed personal income taxes.

Senate Bill 74 allows companies to apply for a tax credit after making an eligible donation to a Pennsylvania pediatric cancer research hospital.

Senate Bill 596 establishes the Pennsylvania Clean Transportation Infrastructure Act.

Senate Bill 842 allows the omission of health care workers’ last names from identification badges.

Senate Bill 850 establishes the Community Integrated Schools for Success pilot program.

House Bill 956 amends the State Lottery Law to lower the margin rate of return from 25 percent to 20 percent for a five-year period beginning June 30, 2019 and ending on June 30, 2024.

House Bill 1203 requires that the annual audit of an authority must comply with state and federal standards and allows the incorporating municipality to request assistance from the Auditor General.

House Bill 17 establishes a 10-year time period for the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue to collect assessed personal income taxes.

Senate Bill 60 addresses human trafficking.

Senate Bill 79 incrementally increases the minimum wage.

House Bill 97 prohibits the sale, purchase or use of nicotine products or nicotine delivery systems by minors or pupils in schools.

House Bill 355 amends the Public School Code regarding ethics and transparency requirements for charter schools.

Senate Bill 637 creates a set of rules for consideration of criminal records for occupational licensure.

House Bill 962 eliminates the criminal statute of limitations for the sexual abuse of a child, as well as associated crimes such as human trafficking. The bill also extends the deadline for civil actions from age 30 to age 55.

House Bill 963 amends the Pennsylvania Constitution to create a two-year window for retroactive lawsuits from victims whose statute of limitations has already expired.

House Bill 1051 increases the offense of willfully failing to report suspected child abuse by a mandated reporter when it is a “continuing course of action” from a first-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony.

House Bill 1542 addresses special occasion liquor permits.

House Bill 1982 allows participating employers in SERS to pre-fund all or a portion of their “unfunded actuarial liability.”

Banking & Insurance

House Bill 427 provides health insurance coverage requirements for stage four, advanced metastatic cancer.

Senate Bill 595 provides insurance coverage for breast density screenings.

Communications & Technology

Senate Bill 810 consolidates the administration and management of the Commonwealth’s information technology under the Office of Information Technology.

Community, Economic & Recreational Development

House Bill 1045 requires the Commonwealth Financing Authority board to meet the second Tuesday of every other month, beginning with January, rather than at the call of the chairperson.

Education

House Bill 355 amends the Public School Code regarding ethics and transparency requirements for charter schools.

Environmental Resources & Energy

House Bill 476 amends the Solid Waste Management Act to require the Department of Environmental Protection to notify municipalities when certain violations occur.

Senate Bill 679 directs the Environmental Quality Board to develop regulations that authorize counties to adopt a program for stream cleaning and maintenance and the removal of obstructions and flood-related hazards from local waterways.

Senate Bill 766 updates the state’s household hazardous waste collection program.

Finance

House Bill 1100 establishes the Energy and Fertilizer Manufacturing Tax Credit program.

House Bill 1982 allows participating employers in SERS to pre-fund all or a portion of their “unfunded actuarial liability.”

Game & Fisheries

House Bill 102 provides for expanded availability of hunter education courses in public schools.

Senate Bill 377 increases the fine and the penalty for killing or unlawfully taking a bald or golden eagle.

House Bill 584 provides an exemption from fishing license requirements for therapeutic recreation programs.

House Bill 617 provides for a discounted hunting license for volunteer Hunter Trapper Education instructors.

House Bill 1772 allows a property owner to use identifying purple paint marks on trees or posts to provide notice not to trespass on the property.

Health & Human Services

House Bill 321 prohibits an abortion based solely on a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome.

Senate Bill 606 provides for the authority to prescribe or personally furnish antibiotics to treat sexually transmitted infections.

House Bill 1001 establishes standards for licensure and regulation of (human) milk banks.

House Bill 1058 establishes the Compassion and Care for Medically Challenging Pregnancies Act.

House Bill 1662 amends the Methadone Death and Incident Review Act to include deaths and incidents attributable to any medication approved for the treatment of opioid use disorder and renames it the Medication Death and Incident Review Act.

On Wednesday, the committee and the Senate Transportation Committee held a joint hearing on the Medical Assistance Transportation Program. Hearing Video & Written Testimony

Judiciary

House Bill 97 prohibits the sale, purchase or use of nicotine products or nicotine delivery systems by minors or pupils in schools.

Senate Bill 809 establishes a Legislative Conduct Review Board.

House Bill 962 eliminates the criminal statute of limitations for the sexual abuse of a child, as well as associated crimes such as human trafficking. The bill also extends the deadline for civil actions from age 30 to age 55.

House Bill 963 amends the Pennsylvania Constitution to create a two-year window for retroactive lawsuits from victims whose statute of limitations has already expired.

House Bill 1171 ensures survivors who sign non-disclosure statements are not prohibited from speaking with law enforcement regarding their abuse.
On Tuesday the committee held a public hearing to consider the reappointment of John P. Williams as a member of the Board of Pardons. Hearing Video

Law & Justice

House Bill 1542 addresses special occasion liquor permits.

Labor & Industry

Senate Bill 79 incrementally increases the minimum wage.

House Bill 422 creates an “on-the-job” trainee classification for each building code official certification.

Senate Bill 594 requires employers who have a certified safety committee as part of their workers’ compensation program to include information about the risks associated with the use of opioids.

State Government

Senate Resolution 179 urges Congress to make daylight savings time permanent in the United States.

Senate Bill 417 requires successful write-in candidates receive at least the same number of votes as would be required to file nomination petitions.

Senate Bill 779 moves Pennsylvania’s Presidential primary election day to the third Tuesday of March.

House Bill 1896 authorizes the release of a use restriction and reversionary interest affecting land in East Vincent Township, Chester County.

On Monday, the committee held a public hearing on the nomination of Kathy Boockvar for Secretary of the Commonwealth. Hearing Video. On Tuesday, the committee held a confirmation hearing to consider the reappointment of Richard Steigerwald as a member of the State Athletic Commission. Hearing Video

Transportation

Senate Bill 773 increases penalties for those who have multiple DUI convictions and targets offenders who repeatedly drive drunk with high Blood Alcohol Content levels in their systems.

Senate Bill 954 reinstates the requirement for registration stickers on license plates.

On Tuesday, the committee held a public hearing on the re-nomination of William Lieberman as Commissioner of the PA Turnpike Commission. Hearing Video

Urban Affairs & Housing

On Wednesday, the committee held a public hearing on Senate Bill 802 (data collection on common interest ownership communities). Hearing Video & Written Testimony

Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness

Senate Bill 276 increases the monthly pension amounts for the Blind Veterans Pension Program and the Amputee and Paralyzed Veterans Pension Program.

House Bill 630 provides employment protections to Pennsylvania residents who are members of a National Guard or Reserve unit in another state.

Senate Bill 952 amends the Veterans Preference Law.

Senate Bill 957 directs the Department of Military & Veterans Affairs to create logos to promote veteran-owned businesses.

House Bill 1050 guarantees in-state tuition rates for reassigned military families.

Up Next

The Senate returns to voting session on December 18. You can watch session live at SenatorDiSanto.com.

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