“Every area of Pennsylvania has seen the tragic impact of the heroin crisis. It’s happening in Chester and Delaware counties – my district – and it’s happening in every Senate district. Over the past five years, nearly 3,000 heroin-related overdose deaths have been identified in Pennsylvania. We have a responsibility to take action, and Senate Bill 1164 will save lives.”
Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware) on enactment of his legislation providing Good Samaritan immunity to individuals who seek help when a friend or companion overdoses on drugs.
Senate Convenes at 1 p.m.
Bills that could be considered by the Senate this week include:
Senate Bill 1441, sponsored by Sen. Richard Alloway (R-Franklin), privatizing and regulating the Bail Bondsman industry in Pennsylvania.
Senate Bill 1361, sponsored by Sen. Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland), establishing the Ready to Succeed scholarship program.
House Bill 90, providing new tools to combat online child predators.
The Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, chaired by Sen. Bob Mensch (R-Montgomery), will hold a public hearing on executive nominations for Brigadier General, Pennsylvania Air National Guard; Brigadier General, Pennsylvania Army National Guard; and Major General, Pennsylvania Army National Guard. (Wed., 10 a.m., Room 8E-B)
Bill to Reduce Drug Overdose Deaths Becomes Law
Legislation sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware) and aimed at reducing drug overdose deaths in Pennsylvania was signed into law Sept. 30.
Act 139 of 2014 establishes Good Samaritan immunity from prosecution for certain drug crimes to individuals who seek help when a friend or companion overdoses on drugs. The new law will also allow police and firefighters to be trained to carry naloxone, an anti-overdose drug. For more on Act 139, please see In the Spotlight, below.
Watch – Senator Pileggi on Senate Passage
Senate Votes to Establish Small Disaster Assistance Program
The Senate approved legislation Sept. 22 to establish a state-sponsored Small Disaster Assistance Program. Senate Bill 720, sponsored by Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne), would provide grants to help local governments and municipal authorities recover from localized disasters that fall below the $17.5 million threshold for federal aid.
The grants would cover damage from flash floods, fires, tornadoes, and other natural and manmade disasters that do not qualify for federal aid. The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency would prioritize projects and determine how funds are allocated. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Acts to Boost Organ Donation
The Senate approved legislation Sept. 23 to help increase organ and tissue donation in Pennsylvania.
Senate Bill 850, sponsored by Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery), would create a public education program to encourage more organ donation, including initiatives in secondary schools, medical schools and nursing schools. The bill would update state law to reflect the best clinical practices to support anatomical donations for transplants. More than 8,000 patients are awaiting a lifesaving organ transplant in Pennsylvania and thousands more would benefit from life-enhancing tissue transplants. The bill will be sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Approves Medical Cannabis Bill
The Senate approved legislation Sept. 24 that would permit the use of cannabis for medical purposes.
Senate Bill 1182, sponsored by Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon), creates the Medical Cannabis Act, which provides a mechanism to allow health care providers to recommend the use of marijuana for medical purposes. The bill would only legalize the use of oil-based medical cannabis and specifies that the substance may not be ingested by smoking.
To receive a prescription for medical cannabis, Pennsylvania residents would have to receive a medical cannabis access card from the Department of Health with certification from a licensed physician. The legislation would not allow any individual or entity to grow, process or dispense cannabis without a state license. The bill also includes a strict regulatory framework that covers growers, processors and dispensers, including measures to ensure the proper disposal or donation of unused cannabis.
The legislation was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Delaware River Port Authority Reform Measures Approved by Senate
The Senate approved two measures sponsored by Sen. John Rafferty (R-Montgomery) that are part of a bi-state legislative package intended to bring greater transparency and accountability to the Delaware River Port Authority.
Among other reforms, Senate Bill 1358 would prohibit the DRPA from engaging in economic development activity, allow people to obtain public records from the agency via Pennsylvania’s Right-to-Know Law or New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act, and restrict DRPA board member, officer and employee perks.
Senate Votes to Expand Open Records Law
The Senate approved legislation Sept. 24 to dramatically expand how Pennsylvania’s Open Records Law applies to the four state-related universities – Pennsylvania State University, Temple University, the University of Pittsburgh and Lincoln University.
Senate Bill 444, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware), requires Penn State, Temple, Pitt and Lincoln to create searchable, sortable and downloadable databases on their freely accessible public websites. The databases will include extensive budget, revenue and expenditure data.
State-related universities will also be required to post information about contracts valued at $5,000 or more on their websites annually, and most of the universities will be required to report the top 200 employee salaries. State-related universities with fewer than 2,500 employees will continue to report the top 25 salaries, as required by the existing law. The measure now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Over the past five years, nearly 3,000 heroin-related overdose deaths have been identified by county coroners across Pennsylvania.
Senator Pileggi introduced the legislation at the request of the family of David Massi II, who died of a multiple drug intoxication in January 2013. David’s mother, Daneena Dostellio, and his aunt, Lynne Massi, were in Johnstown as the governor signed the bill.
The new law is supported by organizations across the state, including the Pennsylvania Medical Society, the Drug and Alcohol Service Providers Organization of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association, the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, the ACLU of Pennsylvania, the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association, the Pennsylvania Sheriffs’ Association, the Pennsylvania Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence, the Pennsylvania Rural Health Association, and the Pennsylvania Pharmacists Association.