2017-2018 Senate Action


Reform 

Act 5 of 2017 (Corman) reforms state public pensions to save more than $5 billion and shield taxpayers from $20 billion or more in additional liabilities.

Act 13 of 2017 (Folmer) reforms state law regarding the seizure and forfeiture of property.

Act 21 of 2017 (Gordner) streamlines Second Class Township government by exempting property under $2,000 from the bidding process.

Act 28 of 2017 (Gordner) stipulates that township supervisors shall not hold any other elective township office or appointed position in the township that is prohibited by state law.

Act 29 of 2017 (Aument) creates an independent Office of Inspector General and gives Pennsylvania’s top fraud, waste and abuse investigator more authority.

Act 36 of 2017 updates the Pennsylvania Construction Code Act to reform the code review process used by the Uniform Construction Code Review and Advisory Council to update the UCC.

Act 38 of 2017 prevents tax collection fraud by prohibiting tax payments to an account in an individual’s name and requires the creation of a separate account to be used solely for tax purposes.

Act 48 of 2017 (Mensch) requires private sector-style performance-based budget reviews for all state departments and agencies at least once every five years.

Act 60 of 2017 provides a total of $115.2 million in funding over four years for UC operations and technological upgrades and requires the Department of Labor and Industry to end its reliance on transfers into the Service and Infrastructure Improvement Fund.

Senate Bill 6 (Regan) establishes the Public Assistance Integrity Act to eradicate waste, fraud, and abuse within the state Public Welfare Code. 

Senate Bill 166 (Eichelberger) prevents the taxpayer-funded collection of money for government union political activity.

Senate Bill 169 (Laughlin) requires lobbyists to register and file reports electronically through a computerized system developed by the Pennsylvania Department of State.

Senate Bill 170 (Rafferty) requires comprehensive reform measures at the Delaware River Port Authority.

Senate Bill 171 (Rafferty) requires Senate confirmation of the Chief Executive Officer of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.

Senate Bill 178 (Scavello) updates and modernizes the state History Code.

Senate Bill 181 (Mensch) implements Performance Based Budgeting to require justification of state government spending.

Senate Bill 522 and Senate Bill 523 (Greenleaf) merge the Department of Corrections and the Board of Probation and Parole as the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Senate Bill 529 (Wagner) provides those with low-level, nonviolent criminal records a mechanism to have their record sealed from public view.

Senate Bill 561 (DiSanto) requires the approval of the General Assembly and the Governor for all new regulations with an economic impact or cost exceeding $1 million to the Commonwealth, its political subdivisions, and the private sector.

Senate Bill 676 (Gordner) addresses ongoing funding deficiencies in the Workers’ Compensation Uninsured Employers Guarantee Fund.

House Bill 59 (Human Services Code) targets fraud, waste and abuse in Pennsylvania’s public welfare system and includes reforms to save hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ dollars.  (Vetoed by Governor.)

House Bill 1175 amends state law relating to lobbying disclosure to provide for an electronic registration filing system and to increase fines and penalties for violations of the act.

House Bill 1285 proposes to amend the state constitution to increase the allowable homestead exclusion to 100 percent to effectively eliminate school property taxes. (Adopted and approved by voters.)

Public Safety 

Act 3 of 2017 (Ward) gives residents the option to get a state driver’s license or photo ID card that meets security requirements imposed by the federal REAL ID law.

Act 20 of 2017 (Rafferty) increases fines and suspends the licenses of repeat offenders of Pennsylvania’s “Steer Clear” law. 

Act 22 of 2017 (Greenleaf) allows police officers to use body-worn cameras to record statements and actions at a crime scene.

Act 30 of 2017 (Rafferty) provides for chemical testing and other measures related to driving after imbibing alcohol or using drugs.

Act 49 of 2017 (Greenleaf) adds Court of Common Pleas judges in Bucks, Cumberland, Delaware, Montgomery, Washington and Wayne counties.

Act 50 of 2017 (Baker) transfers enforcement authority for the Pennsylvania One Call System from the Department of Labor and Industry to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.

Act 51 of 2017 (Ward) provides broader representation of crime victims on the state Victims’ Services Advisory Committee.

Act 66 of 2017 amends the state Bingo Law to increase the monetary limits for payouts and jackpots, enabling fire companies and other non-profits to raise more funds for their charitable purposes.

Senate Bill 5 (Langerholc) prevents local jurisdictions from imposing firearms ordinances more restrictive than laws passed by the General Assembly. 

Senate Bill 10 (Reschenthaler) requires municipalities to report illegal immigrants who are arrested and pose a danger to Pennsylvania communities and residents.

Senate Bill 251 (Vulakovich) allows Pennsylvania municipal police departments to use radar as a means of speed enforcement.

Senate Bill 461 (Killion) modernizes and strengthens the use of DNA technology to better fight violent crime in Pennsylvania. 

Senate Bill 449 (Bartolotta) allows Magisterial District Judges to use a risk assessment tool when determining bail in domestic violence cases. 

Senate Bill 510 (Reschenthaler) increases the penalty for threating law enforcement officers, sheriffs or members of their family. 

Senate Bill 662 (Bartolotta) strengthens penalties on drug dealers for the delivery or distribution of an illicit drug that results in serious bodily injury to the user.

Senate Resolution 6 (Vulakovich) updates the comprehensive study of fire and EMS issues completed in 2004.

Senate Resolution 75 (Mensch) directs a review how Pennsylvania accounts for and analyzes forensic evidence kits (rape kits).

Health Care

Act 4 of 2017 improves care for stroke victims by adding acute stroke-ready hospitals and comprehensive stroke centers to the provisions of the Primary Stroke Center Recognition Act.

Act 14 of 2017 establishes a Rare Disease Advisory Council in the Department of Health.

Act 33 of 2017 allows eligible patients to request and use investigational drugs, biological products and medical devices not yet approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as long as the patient has a terminal illness and passes other requirements.

Act 39 of 2017 allows taxpayers to designate a portion of their state income tax refund for pediatric cancer research beginning with tax year 2018 filings.

Act 59 of 2017 (McGarrigle) establishes standards and criteria for the operation of addiction recovery houses.

Act 62 of 2017 extends protections to seniors enrolled in PACE and PACENET prescription drug programs who would lose eligibility due to increases in income from Social Security cost-of-living adjustments.

Act 79 of 2017 (Yaw) exempts three Schedule V epilepsy drugs, which have no history of abuse, from state prescription drug monitoring requirements.

Senate Bill 3 (Brooks) amends the Abortion Control Act to reduce the maximum gestational age for legal abortions from 24 to 20 weeks and prohibits dismemberment abortion. (Vetoed by Governor)

Senate Bill 25 (Bartolotta) gives full practice authority to Advanced Practice Registered Nurses.

Senate Bill 180 (Greenleaf) establishes the Donate Life PA Act to improve the communication process between county coroners or medical examiners and organ procurement organizations.

Senate Bill 542 (Browne) permits pharmacists to dispense emergency prescription refills for up to 30 days pursuant to certain restrictions.

Education

Act 2 of 2017 provides immunity from lawsuits to school bus drivers and crossing guards who administer an epinephrine auto-injector, or “epi-pen,” to assist a student who is experiencing an allergic reaction.

Act 6 of 2017 eliminates the statutory requirement for the development and implementation of Keystone Exams in English Composition, Algebra II, Geometry, U.S. History, Chemistry, Civics and Government, and World History.  

Act 55 of 2017 (Public School Code amendments)

  • Increases the amount of Educational Improvement Tax Credits (EITC) provided to scholarship organizations by $10 million.
  • Offers agricultural educational resources and programming for K-12 students.
  • Allow professional school employees to be suspended for economic reasons.
  • Require any professional school employee suspensions to be based on performance ratings instead of seniority.
  • Delays the use of the Keystone Exams as a graduation requirement an additional year until the 2019-2020 school year.
  • Requires the Department of Education to submit to the General Assembly any state plan for complying with the Federal Every Student Succeeds Act.
  • Requires that a school district identified for financial watch status and receiving educational access program funding be placed under the supervision of a financial administrator.
  • Allows principals to conduct a school security drill on response to armed intruders, rather than a fire drill or natural disaster drill.
  • Requires instruction in grades 6-12 on prevention of opioid abuse, with an emphasis on the connection between prescription opioid abuse and addiction to other drugs, including heroin.

Senate Bill 53 (Greenleaf) makes permanent the authorizing of distance education in the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency State Grant Program.

Senate Bill 227 (Eichelberger) delays the use of the Keystone Exams as a graduation requirement until the 2019-2020 school year, gives school boards new options to manage superintendent contracts, and makes additional changes to the Public School Code.

Senate Bill 383 (White) gives school boards the option of allowing licensed and trained staff to carry firearms on school property.

Senate Bill 592 (Stefano) requires school boards to publicly disclose employment information before hiring a district superintendent, assistant district superintendent or principal.

Senate Resolution 34 (Argall) requires the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee (LBFC) to study the future and sustainability of the 14 state-owned universities across the state.

Children and Families 

Act 12 of 2017 establishes the crime of Endangering the Welfare of a Child to reflect the degree of risk and the age of the child victim in the penalty grading.

Act 58 of 2017 changes the expiration date of the Children’s Health Insurance Program from December 31, 2017, to December 31, 2019. 

Act 68 of 2017 amends the Newborn Protection Act to expand the list of caregivers to whom a parent may surrender a newborn to include emergency service providers, and provides for a program to install incubators so that newborns who are surrendered may be kept safely in a controlled environment.  

Senate Bill 113 (Eichelberger) allows family members to have access and visitation rights with regard to a family member who is incapacitated and under court-appointed guardianship.

Senate Bill 211 (Browne) enhances the PA 2-1-1 system connecting people in need to health and human service assistance.

Senate Bill 261 (Scarnati) eliminates the statute of limitations for child sex abuse crimes and gives victims additional time to file civil actions against their abuser.

Senate Bill 530 (Killion) updates the Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists and Professional Counselors Act to provide better treatment for individuals who need services, clarify who may provide those services, and define who may call themselves a licensed clinical social worker.

Senate Bill 554 (Greenleaf) requires that sexually exploited children be diverted from the criminal justice system to more appropriate human services.

Senate Bill 677 (Baker) establishes the Pennsylvania ABLE Savings Program Tax Exemption Act, allowing families to set aside tax-exempt funds for costs related to the disability of a family member.

Senate Bill 472 (Yaw) combats the state’s growing opioid addiction crisis by limiting opioid prescriptions to seven days unless there is a medical emergency.

Senate Bill 844 (White) expands legal standing for grandparents and other individual seeking custody of children of addicted parents.

Transportation 

Act 20 of 2017  (Rafferty) increases fines and suspend the licenses of repeat offenders of Pennsylvania’s “Steer Clear” law.

Act 31 of 2017 (Langerholc) boosts the use of natural gas by increasing the maximum allowable gross weight for commercial vehicles powered by natural gas from 80,000 pounds to 82,000 pounds.

Act 37 of 2017 adds optometrists to the list of medical providers who may certify an application for a disability placard or registration plate.

Act 80 of 2017 (Martin) authorizes parking authorities in cities of the second class A and third class to enforce and administer parking ordinances and resolutions to alleviate the burden on magisterial court justices, reduce backlogs and quicken the collection of violation fees.

Senate Bill 172 (Argall) provides a three-year trial period for PENNDOT to place speed cameras in active work zones on limited access highways.

Senate Bill 564 (Yaw) requires PENNDOT to include protective fencing as part of new bridge projects and major renovations of existing bridges over interstate highways.

Senate Bill 888 (Rafferty) improves accessibility and strengthens enforcement measures of parking spaces for persons with disabilities.

Senate Resolution 76 (Vulakovich) directs the Pennsylvania Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to study the feasibility of increasing passenger rail service between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg.

Agriculture & Outdoor Recreation

Act 35 of 2017 exempts roadside agricultural stands from the Uniform Construction Code.

Act 46 of 2017 establishes the Controlled Plant and Noxious Weed Act to take a proactive approach to controlling existing and potentially noxious weeds, maximizing invasive species control resources and protecting Commonwealth lands.

Senate Bill 30 (Eichelberger) gives the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission the authority to establish the fees that it charges for licenses.

Senate Bill 123 (Scavello) allows Pennsylvanians to engage in falconry on Sundays.

Senate Bill 135 (Scavello) would permit the use of a leashed tracking dog to track white-tailed deer to recover an animal which has been legally harvested or wounded.

Senate Bill 192 (Stefano) allows Pennsylvania Game Commission establish the fees that it charges for hunting and fur-taking licenses while ensuring legislative oversight of the organization.

Jobs

Act 1 of 2017 (Ward) provides emergency funding to ease the hardships of Pennsylvania’s unemployed workers when Governor Wolf closed three Unemployment Compensation Service Centers.

Senate Bill 241 (McGarrigle) strengthens Pennsylvania’s Equal Pay Law by allowing employers to determine wages based on the level or amount of education, training or experience, and prohibits employer discrimination against an employee who files a complaint.

Environment & Energy

Senate Bill 138 (Yaw) gives natural gas royalty interest owners the opportunity to inspect records of the gas company to verify proper payment and requires that proceeds be paid within 90 days unless otherwise stated in the lease.

Senate Bill 139 (Yaw) prohibits natural gas companies from retaliating against a royalty owner by terminating the lease agreement or ceasing development simply because the landowner questions the accuracy of the royalty payments.

Senate Bill 431 (Scavello) targets illegal dumps and roadside waste by increasing fines for littering. 

Senate Bill 646 (Killion) amends the Municipal Waste Planning, Recycling and Waste Reduction Act to extend the sunset date for the recycling fee for municipal waste landfills and resource recovery facilities to 2021.

Community Development

Act 26 of 2017 (Yaw) provides for the use of alternate on-lot sewage systems for a new land development.

Act 66 of 2017 amends the state Bingo Law to increase the monetary limits for payouts and jackpots, enabling non-profits to raise more funds for their charitable purposes.

Act 76 of 2017 (Vulakovich) amends the Pittsburgh Parking Authority’s enabling act to assist in supporting private development.

Senate Bill 434 (Argall) reduces the allotted period of time that is necessary in order to acquire a title of a blighted or abandoned property through adverse possession under various situations and circumstances.

Senate Bill 667 (Stefano) provides local redevelopment authorities with greater authority and additional resources to combat neighborhood blight.  

Veterans 

Act 9 of 2017 makes it a crime for anyone to fraudulently present themselves as a soldier or a veteran of any branch of the armed forces, or to be the recipient of a service medal or other military decoration.

Act 54 of 2017 (Hutchinson) establishes uniform residential qualifications of office for persons seeking election or appointment to a municipal elected office where recent service in the military might interfere with the person’s ability to satisfy residency requirements.

Act 56 of 2017 creates the Pennsylvania Achievement Medal and the Pennsylvania Veterans Service Award and adds them to the list of awards that the Governor may present in the name of the Commonwealth.

Act 69 of 2017 establishes a state veterans’ registry to provide veterans with information regarding state benefits, programs and services.

Senate Bill 552 (Aument) establishes the Pennsylvania Veterans’ Monuments and Memorial Trust Fund for the operation and maintenance of monuments

Senate Bill 540 (Mensch) allows students who are performing at events and funerals honoring our veterans to be excused from school, and allow that time to be counted toward volunteering or community service requirements. 

Senate Bill 625 (Brooks), Senate Bill 822 require the flying of a POW/MIA flag at rest areas, welcome centers and state-owned properties.

Consumer Protection 

Act 77 of 2017 (Argall) imposes fines on household goods moving companies that fail to register with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission or carry adequate insurance to protect property.

Act 78 of 2017 (Reschenthaler) improves and modernizes existing Pennsylvania law on fraudulent transfers.

Animal Protection

Act 10 of 2017 strengthens existing animal abuse laws and makes it easier to prosecute a person who knowingly mistreats, abuses or neglects an animal.