Senate Approves Bartolotta Bill Addressing Workers Compensation and Third-Party Lawsuits

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HARRISBURG – The Senate passed legislation sponsored by Senator Camera Bartolotta (R-46) clarifying that employers may recoup medical expenses paid to an employee for a workplace injury when a settlement or award of damages is obtained against a third party for the same injury.

When an employee’s workplace injury results from an act or omission of a third party, such as a manufacturer of faulty equipment, the employee may file a civil suit against that third party. In the interim, the employer remains responsible for wage loss benefits and medical expenses under a traditional workers’ compensation claim.

If the employee is successful in the third-party suit, his or her employer is able to recover benefits paid and future wage loss benefits under the premise that the employee should not be compensated twice for the same injury. Senate Bill 319 would clarify that future medical expenses would also be subject to employer recovery where there is a third-party settlement. This had been the law prior to a 2018 Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision.

“While it is unfortunate that an employee would ever be injured on the job, employers should not be penalized by having to pay for future medical costs after the third party is found to be responsible for the accident. The fair solution is for the injured party to be compensated by the responsible party – not by another party without any culpability,” Bartolotta said.

The responsibility for attorneys’ fees incurred in obtaining the recovery would continue to be shared by the employer and employee as provided for in current law.

In the event that the proceeds of a third-party settlement are depleted, the employer or insurer would resume paying the full amount of the employee’s workers’ compensation wage loss and medical costs.

The bill would bring Pennsylvania back in line with how nearly every other state handles this workers’ compensation issue.

Senate Bill 319 now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.

CONTACT: Eric Kratz, 717-787-1463

Senate Committee Passes Bill to Provide Critical Assistance to Employers

HARRISBURG – Legislation to provide employers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic with critical assistance, sponsored by Senators Camera Bartolotta (R-46) and Judy Ward (R-30), was passed by the Senate Finance Committee today.

“Because small employers typically do not have access to large amounts of capital to manage losses, it is critical that we allow them to use tax strategies to survive the pandemic,” Senator Bartolotta said. “Senator Ward and I introduced the bill to provide immediate relief to cash-strapped employers so they can continue to help with Pennsylvania’s economic recovery.”

Senate Bill 368 would permit small businesses to take a net loss against other sources of income and to “carry back” losses to previous tax years. It would also allow employers to take Net Operating Losses against future years for up to 20 years. The changes would give small business owners the option to benefit from the same tax strategies as large corporations and provide the same immediate relief that is offered at the federal level.

“Big corporations were already given an unfair advantage in the past year when the governor favored them over smaller businesses that could have more easily followed social distancing and other COVID-19 guidelines. The tax law should not favor them too,” Senator Ward explained.

Senate Bill 368 is part of the “Prioritize Pennsylvania: Small Businesses” initiative unveiled in March by Bartolotta and Ward, as well as Senators Ryan Aument (R-36) and Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-28), intended to help once-vibrant small businesses by making significant reforms to revitalize Pennsylvania’s economy.

The bill now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

VIDEO: Senator Bartolotta made remarks during today’s Senate Finance Committee on her bill. 

CONTACTColleen Greer (Bartolotta’s Office), 717-787-1463

                        Cheryl Schriner (Ward’s Office), 717-787-5490

Senate Approves Regulatory Reform Measures to Spur Job Creation

Harrisburg – With Pennsylvania’s employment rate lagging behind those of other states emerging from the pandemic, the state Senate this week approved several bills to rein in job-stifling regulations.

The bills increase legislative oversight of a process too often influenced by unelected bureaucrats, adding special scrutiny for the costliest proposed regulations. 

The Senate approved the following regulatory reform measures:

  • Senate Bill 28 – Ensures transparency in permitting. The bill would require all agencies that issue permits to post information about the permits on an accessible tracking system for applicants to check the status of their applications.
  • Senate Bill 126 – Provides for an automatic review after three years of all regulations with an economic impact or cost to the Commonwealth, local governments and the private sector exceeding $1 million.
  • Senate Bill 426 – Provides additional legislative oversight of the regulatory review process. The goal of the legislation is to ensure state agencies are implementing the law and not trying to make the laws themselves.
  • Senate Bill 520 – Requires the General Assembly to approve all regulations with an economic impact or cost to the Commonwealth, local governments and the private sector exceeding $1 million.

The regulatory reform bills were sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Senate Approves DiSanto’s Regulatory Reform Bill to Spur Job Creation

Harrisburg – With Pennsylvania’s employment rate lagging behind those of other states emerging from the pandemic, the state Senate this week approved several bills to rein in job-stifling regulations, including a bill sponsored by Senator John DiSanto (Dauphin/Perry).

The bills increase legislative oversight of a process too often influenced by unelected bureaucrats, adding special scrutiny for the costliest proposed regulations. 

“My 35 years of experience as a business owner showed me that government red tape makes it more difficult to grow a business and create jobs, and I’ve heard the same message repeatedly from other job creators since I’ve been in the Senate,” said DiSanto, whose Senate Bill 520 would require costly regulations to go before the General Assembly for a vote. “Our current regulatory process stifles the economy and vests too much power in unelected government employees and agencies that lack direct accountability to the people. This is a blueprint for regulatory growth and amounts to laws being crafted without the consent of the governed.”

Senate Bill 520 state that no regulation with an economic impact or cost to the Commonwealth, local governments and the private sector exceeding $1 million can be imposed without approval of the General Assembly.

Other regulatory reform measures approved this week were:

  • Senate Bill 28 – Ensures transparency in permitting. The bill would require all agencies that issue permits to post information about the permits on an accessible tracking system for applicants to check the status of their applications.
  • Senate Bill 126 – Provides for an automatic review after three years of all regulations with an economic impact or cost to the Commonwealth, local governments and the private sector exceeding $1 million.
  • Senate Bill 426 – Provides additional legislative oversight of the regulatory review process. The goal of the legislation is to ensure state agencies are implementing the law and not trying to make the laws themselves.

The bills have now been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

CONTACT: Chuck Erdman cerdman@pasen.gov (717) 787-6801

Senate Approves Bill Improving Career & Technical Education and Workforce Development in Pennsylvania

(HARRISBURG) – The Senate approved a comprehensive bill yesterday that seeks to address deep-seated issues within our state’s career and technical education system that have long stymied the growth of this critical component of post-secondary education options for Pennsylvania students, according to Senator Ryan Aument (R-36).

The purpose of this bill is to make it easier for students to pursue career and technical education by modernizing the system, streamlining the process for students to receive and transfer credits, and removing barriers for students to be exposed to different training options and available career paths.

The bill also removes regulatory burdens and updates terminology to remove the decades-old stigma against career and technical schools, thereby paving the way for students to pursue these rewarding career opportunities.

“Career and technical schools offer a viable pathway for young people to find fulfilling, good-paying careers in high-demand industries, but the current system still creates barriers that prevent many students from pursuing these careers – if they even know that they exist at all,” Aument said. “Breaking down these barriers will open up a world of opportunities for young people and ensure that Pennsylvania’s workforce keeps pace with the demands of the 21st Century economy.”

The legislation included language from a number of other bills on the topic, including:

  1. House Bill 265 sponsored by Representative Craig Staats:  Requires the creation of an online database to contain information pertaining to statewide and regional articulation agreements in an effort to ease the process of transferring credits between institutions and to allow users to be aware of these agreements before making course enrollment decisions.
  2. House Bill 334 sponsored by Representative Seth Grove:  Requires the newly established Commission for Agriculture Education Excellence to issue guidelines for circumstances under which a student who successfully completes an academic course, program, or activity for credit may apply the credit toward completion of an agriculture education program.
  3. House Bill 393 sponsored by Representative Patrick Harkins:  Requires the departments of Education, Labor and Industry, and Agriculture to create the “The PASmart Online Career Resource Center,” an online clearinghouse of information for students, parents, educators and school officials regarding postsecondary education and career pathways.  The online resource will include information on career pathways, data and statistics on employment and compensation, and other relevant resources to help students understand all of the opportunities that are available to them after graduation.
  4. House Bill 394 sponsored by Representative Gerald Mullery:  Requires the Department of Education (PDE) and the Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) to conduct a complete inventory of existing workforce development programs at both the secondary and postsecondary levels with particular emphasis on opportunities for business-education partnerships in an effort to share those best practices with the various entities to help improve the delivery of career-focused opportunities.
  5. House Bill 796 sponsored by Representatives Solomon, Bernstine, & Klunk:  Establishes a Schools-to-Work Program in the Department of Labor and Industry to provide grants to support the creation of workforce development partnerships between schools, employers, trade associations, and other organizations to create pathways to training and employment.
  6. Senate Bill 89 sponsored by Senators Aument and Hughes:  Updates references to “vocational-technical schools” in the Public School Code and replaces them with “career and technical schools” in an effort to remove stigma.

Among other things, the bill will also codify Department of Education guidelines regarding career and technology education equipment grants to clarify that grant awards can be used to purchase an entire set of tools.

The omnibus bill is now headed to the House of Representatives for concurrence on Senate amendments.

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CONTACT:  Ryan Boop (717) 787-4420

Senate Approves Bill to Expand Availability of Job Training Programs

HARRISBURG – The Senate approved a bipartisan bill today that would expand job training programs to a broader number of Pennsylvanians by allowing Private Licensed Schools to create branch campuses in different counties, according to one of the bill’s sponsors, Senator Camera Bartolotta (R-46).

Under current law, technical schools can only establish branch campuses within the same county as the primary site. Senate Bill 456 would eliminate this restriction and allow schools to create branch campuses in neighboring counties and other locations within 60 miles of the primary location.

Current restrictions require a school to go through the costly and time-consuming process of securing another independent license for a second, out-of-county location.

Bartolotta, who chairs the Senate Labor and Industry Committee, said that the bill could play an important role in supporting Pennsylvania’s workforce development efforts by helping more state residents access job training programs.

“When career and technical schools have a proven track record of success in placing students in great job opportunities, we should not make them jump through additional hoops when they want to expand those programs to serve more people and more communities,” Bartolotta said. “The state needs to be a stronger partner in helping more Pennsylvanians access job training programs, and I thank my colleagues in the Senate for taking another step toward that goal.”

The bill also takes critical steps to address some of the most serious challenges facing career and technical schools as well as students, including giving schools the ability to provide direct grants to students, strengthening requirements for keeping student records, and ensuring students receive proper notification of any potential closures and transfer of credits.

Senator Jim Brewster (D-45) was also a prime sponsor of the bill.

Senate Bill 456 was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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CONTACT:   Colleen Greer (717) 787-1463

Senate committee votes to remove barriers to cosmetology careers

HARRISBURG – Cosmetology students would no longer have to risk having their license applications denied due to minor offenses in their past due to a bill approved by the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee today, according to the bill’s sponsor, Senator David G. Argall (R-Schuylkill/Berks).

Senate Bill 586 would amend the Cosmetology Law to remove references to “good moral character” in order to remove this obstacle to employment for cosmetology students.

“It is good for our communities and good for taxpayers to offer people a second chance,” Argall said. “Allowing people to pursue an honest living is better for society and for taxpayers than the alternative – additional public welfare costs from unemployed individuals and higher crime rates in our communities.”

The bill was sent to the full Senate for consideration.

 

Contact: Christine Verdier (717) 787-2637

Education Committee Approves Bartolotta’s Bill Expanding Job Training Program Availability

 

HARRISBURG – The Senate Education Committee approved a proposal today that would expand job training opportunities to a broader number of Pennsylvanians, according to the bill’s sponsor, Senator Camera Bartolotta (R-46).

Under current law, Private Licensed Schools can only establish branch campuses within the same county as the primary site. This restriction requires a school to go through the costly and time-consuming process of securing another independent license if they wish to open an out-of-county location.

Senate Bill 456 would eliminate this restriction and allow schools to create branch campuses in neighboring counties and other locations within 60 miles of the primary location.

Bartolotta said that the bill could play an important role in supporting Pennsylvania’s workforce development efforts by helping more state residents access job training programs.

“Pennsylvania is fortunate to have a number of great schools that offer a pathway for students to find rewarding careers, but their ability to offer these programs is very tightly restricted by county borders,” said Bartolotta, who chairs the Senate Labor and Industry Committee. “Expanding the reach of these job training programs will give even more Pennsylvanians the chance to train for high-paying, family-sustaining jobs.”

Senate Bill 456 was sent to the full Senate for consideration.

Senator Jim Brewster (D-45) is also a prime sponsor of the bill.

 

CONTACT:   Colleen Greer (717) 787-1463

Lawmakers Explore State, Local Economic Impact of PA Breweries in Croydon

CROYDON – The Senate Majority Policy Committee, chaired by Senator David G. Argall (R-Schuylkill/Berks), hosted a roundtable discussion today at Neshaminy Creek Brewing Company in Croydon to learn more about the economic development and community revitalization impact of Pennsylvania’s breweries.

The discussion and tour, hosted by Senator Tommy Tomlinson (R-Bucks), provided brewers, economic development professionals, representatives from local bureaus and other stakeholders the opportunity to discuss how Neshaminy Creek Brewing Company has benefitted the community and how this impact can be increased in the years to come.

The company was founded in 2010 and has earned several accolades for outstanding products.

“I’m pleased that there has been a tremendous growth in the number of local craft brewers in this area. They contribute significantly to our economy and help to promote tourism and economic development,” Tomlinson said.  “We are proud to have these small businesses in our community. Many have located in revitalized abandoned buildings and are actually growing out of their original locations. This roundtable is an important opportunity to bring together legislators, economic development officials, the tourism community and brewers to learn how we can help to promote this growing industry locally and at the state level and ensure that they continue to succeed.”

The tour and roundtable was one of several events scheduled throughout the state this week to examine the impact of Pennsylvania breweries on local and state economies.

Video and additional information from the roundtable discussions and tours is available online at policy.pasenategop.com.

 

Contact:
Jennifer Smeltz (Tomlinson)
717.787.5072

Jon Hopcraft (Argall)
717.787.2637

Bill Promoting Employment of People with Disabilities Signed into Law

Harrisburg – Legislation championed by Sen. Bob Mensch (R-24) to promote the employment of people with disabilities at competitive wages in Pennsylvania received final legislative approval and was signed into law.

House Bill 1641 is a companion to Senate Bill 21, the “Employment First Act,” sponsored by Senator Mensch. It calls for state agencies to employ individuals with disabilities in at least seven percent of the overall state workforce.

“Across our Commonwealth today, too many people with disabilities spend their days working in segregated facilities for wages well below the minimum wage,” said Mensch. “Enactment of the Employment First Act will provide people with disabilities the opportunity to work at competitive wages in a wide range of jobs.”

The legislation does not require state agencies to give preference in hiring to people with disabilities. An oversight commission, with people who have disabilities making up more than half of its members, will set measurable goals for improving the percentage of workers with disabilities in Pennsylvania. It will also issue an annual progress report.

The bill will not require additional state funding. Instead, Commonwealth agencies will be required to shift priorities within existing budgets.

“While Pennsylvania faces a shortage of workers, more and more employers are finding that people with disabilities are productive, responsible and dependable employees,” said Mensch. “The General Assembly has taken an important step for the Commonwealth and for people with disabilities – especially those with intellectual disabilities.”

For more information on Senator Mensch’s legislation, visit www.senatormensch.com.  State updates can also be found on Senator Mensch’s Facebook at www.facebook.com/senatormensch, or Twitter @SenatorMensch

CONTACT: Mark Fetzko mfetzko@pasen.gov (717) 787-3110