Senate Republican News Brief

“These children are victims, not criminals.  There is no such thing as a child prostitute.”

Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery) on Senate passage of his legislation requiring that sexually exploited children be diverted from the criminal justice system to more appropriate human services.


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Senate Session Today at 1 p.m.

Senate Bill 143 replaces the Middle Atlantic Truck Stop Operators with the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association on the Underground Storage Tank Indemnification Board.  Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) 

Senate Bill 201 removes unfair tax obstacles for small businesses, allowing them to create jobs. Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon) 

Senate Bill 222 adds judges to the courts of common pleas in Bucks, Cumberland, Delaware, Montgomery, Washington and Wayne counties. Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery) 

Senate Bill 242  – transfers enforcement authority of the Pennsylvania One Call System from the Department of Labor and Industry to the Public Utility Commission, and removes several excavation work exemptions. Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) 

Senate Bill 269  – amends the Uniform Construction Code to reform the Review and Advisory Council. Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) 

Senate Bill 354 – strengthens licensee reporting requirements to the Department of State’s Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs’ 29 licensing boards and licensee suspensions. Sen. Tommy Tomlinson (R-Bucks) 

Senate Bill 497 – eliminates the waste designation for steel slag under certain conditions. Sen. Elder Vogel (R-Beaver) 

Senate Bill 560 enables police officers to use body-worn cameras. Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery) 

Senate Bill 651 – 2017 Capital Projects Itemization Bill. Sen. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh)

Committee Hearings Streamed Live at PASenateGOP.com:

Tuesday, May 9 9 a.m. N. Office Bldg. Hearing Rm. 1
Senate State Government Committee, Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon) Chair
SB 527 (Independent Office of Inspector General)

Tuesday, May 9 9 a.m. East Wing, Hearing Room 8E-A
Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) Chair
Nomination of Patrick McDonnell for DEP Secretary

Wednesday, May 10 9:30 a.m. East Wing, Hearing Room 8E-B
Center for Rural Pennsylvania, Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) Chair
Grandparent Caregivers of Children Due to Heroin/Opioid Addiction

Wednesday, May 10 9:30 a.m. N. Office Bldg. Hearing Rm. 1
Senate Law and Justice Committee, Sen. Chuck McIlhinney (R-Bucks) Chair, and House Liquor Control Committee
Joint Public Hearing on Pricing

Full Senate Committee Schedule

Review

Senate Acts to Protect Second Amendment Rights 

The Senate approved legislation April 25 to protect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners. 

Senate Bill 5, sponsored by Sen. Wayne Langerholc (R-Cambria), prevents local jurisdictions from imposing firearms ordinances more restrictive than laws passed by the General Assembly. The measure now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration. 

Senate Bill 5 permits individuals and organizations to take court action to block restrictive local firearms ordinances that run counter to the Second Amendment of the US Constitution as well as the protections explicitly set by Pennsylvania’s Constitution and state laws. 

Senator Langerholc: “When local governments enact regulations that clearly exceed state law, law-abiding citizens comply while criminals don’t, leaving innocent people unarmed and unprotected.” More 

Legislation to Protect Child Victims of Human Trafficking Passes Senate 

The Senate on April 25 approved “Safe Harbor” legislation sponsored by Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery) to require that sexually exploited children be diverted from the criminal justice system to more appropriate human services. 

More than 100,000 children are exploited through prostitution in the United States each year.  Adults psychologically manipulate these children, often with the use of illegal drugs.  As a consequence, children have been charged with prostitution, drug possession, loitering, and other offenses that are inherently related to prostitution. 

Senate Bill 554 would require law enforcement to report to the Department of Human Services any encounter with a minor who has been subject to sexual exploitation.  The Department will develop and implement a statewide protocol to deliver safe long-term housing, education, life-skills training, and counseling to the children who have been exploited. More 

Measure Calling for Fire/EMS Review Receives Final Approval 

A measure introduced by Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee Chairman Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny) calling for a comprehensive review of Pennsylvania’s volunteer fire departments and EMS organizations received final legislative approval April 26. 

The Senate unanimously concurred in House amendments to Senate Resolution 6, which authorizes a follow-up to a comprehensive study of fire and EMS issues completed in 2004. 

SR 6 establishes a 39-member commission made up of legislators, first responders and representatives from municipalities. The commission would provide its recommendations by June 30, 2018. More 

Senate Approves Asset Forfeiture Reform 

The Senate on April 26 overwhelmingly passed legislation sponsored by Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon) and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) to reform Pennsylvania’s Asset Forfeiture Law. 

Key reforms in Senate Bill 8 include:  

  • Higher burdens of proof imposed on the Commonwealth.
  • Protections for third party owners by placing additional burdens of proof on the Commonwealth.
  • Improved transparency in auditing and reporting at both the county and state levels.
  • Specific and additional protection in real property cases by prohibiting the pre-forfeiture seizure of real property without a hearing.
  • Additional procedural protections for property owners, such as returning property to the forfeiture proceeding if there is undue hardship, and an extra level of protection for anyone acquitted of a related crime who is trying to get their property back. 

Senate Bill 8 was sent to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for consideration. More 

Senate Approves Full Practice Authority for Nurse Practitioners 

The Senate on April 26 took a major step to improve access to quality healthcare services in rural areas by approving a bill to give full practice authority to Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs). 

Senate Bill 25, sponsored by Sen. Camera Bartolotta (R-Washington), amends the Professional Nursing Law to permit qualified APRNs to practice in their field of specialty independent of a physician after they fulfill a three-year, 3,600-hour collaboration agreement with a doctor. Current law requires nurse practitioners to practice under a collaboration agreement at all times. 

Studies have shown that patients who are treated by APRNs have similar health outcomes to patients who are treated by physicians. Nearly 35 percent of Pennsylvanians live in an area or population group that has inadequate primary care access. Twenty-two states and Washington, D.C. have already adopted full practice authority for APRNs. SB 25 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration. More

Committee Round-Up 

Agriculture & Rural Affairs 

The Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, chaired by Sen. Elder Vogel (R-Beaver), and the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education, Workforce, Community and Economic Development held a joint public hearing April 25 on the proposed PA Farm Show Complex lease/leaseback plan. You can view the hearing here

Appropriations 

The Senate Appropriations Committee, chaired by Sen. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh), approved three bills on April 24. 

Senate Bill 25  amends the state’s Professional Nursing Law to provide for the licensure of certified nurse practitioners by the State Board of Nursing.
Senate Bill 201 provides for “like-kind” exchange tax deferrals.
House Bill 224  provides civil immunity to trained school bus drivers who administer epinephrine auto-injectors (epi-pens) to students. 

Banking & Insurance 

The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee, chaired by Sen. Don White (R-Indiana), approved two bills on April 25. 

Senate Bill 143 makes changes to the Underground Storage Tank Indemnification Board.
Senate Bill 630 reforms insurance licensure requirements for travel agents. 

Community, Economic, & Recreational Development Committee 

The Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee, chaired by Sen. Mario Scavello (R-Monroe), approved House Bill 151 on April 26. The bill defines “agent” as it relates to applications for grants from the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority. 

Environmental Resources & Energy 

The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, chaired by Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming), approved four measures on April 25. 

Senate Resolution 33 establishes a task force to study lead exposure in Pennsylvania.
Senate Bill 144 amends Act 537 (Pennsylvania Sewage Facilities Act) to allow the use of “alternative systems” for planning purposes.
Senate Bill 497 eliminates the “waste” designation for steel slag when it is sold as a commodity and is not a discarded material.
Senate Bill 646 amends Act 101 of 1988, the Municipal Waste Planning Recycling and Waste Reduction Act. 

Finance 

The Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R-Venango), approved four bills on April 26. 

Senate Bill 300 prioritizes the allocation of public funds for family planning purposes. 
Senate Bill 508 eliminates the 40 percent wholesale tax on vaping products and replaces it with a 5-cents per milliliter retail tax on e-liquid. 
Senate Bill 611 amends the Public Employee Pension Forfeiture Act to require pension forfeiture if a public employee or public official is convicted, pleads guilty, or no defense to any felony offense related to his or her employment.
Senate Bill 627 ensures that all air freight companies are treated equally under Pennsylvania tax law. 

Health & Human Services 

The Health and Human Services Committee, chaired by Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne), approved two bills on April 25. 

House Bill 23 adds acute stroke-ready hospitals and comprehensive stroke centers to the provisions of the Primary Stroke Center Recognition Act.
Senate Bill 200 would include postpartum depression as an “at risk category” for early intervention tracking under Act 212 of 1990 (Early Intervention Services System Act). 

Judiciary 

The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery), approved five bills on April 25.

Senate Bill 434 would reduce 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 461 would modernize and strengthen the use of DNA technology to better fight violent crime in Pennsylvania.            
Senate Bill 496 provides additional sentencing provisions for trespassing at gaming establishments.
Senate Bill 510 increases the penalty for threatening law enforcement officers, sheriffs, or members of their family.
Senate Bill 577 bans the sale, possession, or distribution of shark fins.  

Labor & Industry 

The Senate Labor and Industry Committee, chaired by Sen. Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland), approved Senate Bill 269 on April 25. The bill amends the Pennsylvania Construction Code. 

State Government 

The Senate State Government Committee, chaired by Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon), approved five bills on April 25. 

Senate Bill 168 provides for public notice of collective bargaining agreements prior to approval.
Senate Bill 353 is a land conveyance bill.
Senate Bill 503 removes the exemption of collective bargaining from the Sunshine Act. 
Senate Bill 504 removes the exemption of collective bargaining from the Right to Know Law.
Senate Bill 539 recognizes and preserves the Pennsylvania State Area of the Medal of Honor Grove in Schuylkill Township, Chester County. 

Transportation 

The Senate Transportation Committee, chaired by Sen. John Rafferty (R-Montgomery), approved four bills on April 25. 

Senate Bill 332 would make it a summary offense to smoke in a vehicle in which children 12 years of age and younger are being transported.
Senate Bill 589 increases the maximum allowable gross weight for commercial vehicles powered by natural gas from 80,000 pounds to 82,000 pounds.
Senate Bill 614 designates the Diamondville Bridge in Cherryhill Township, Indiana County, as the Sgt. Robert Eugene Goodlin Memorial Bridge.
Senate Bill 648 creates a Distracted Driving Awareness Plate for passenger cars and trucks. 

The committee also held a public hearing on PennDOT’s Twelve Year Program, which prioritizes road and bridge construction projects. You can view the hearing and read testimony from Transportation Secretary Leslie Richards here.