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The Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 1167, which allows a service member to petition the court to modify a custody agreement. The modification will grant custody rights to one or more biological relatives. It will include a proposed custody schedule with the relatives and will not exceed the time granted to the service member prior to the time of filing the petition.

The bill also enables the court to hold an expedited hearing when a parent’s military duties prohibit their ability to appear in person. If it is reasonable to do so, a parent could present testimony and evidence by electronic means.

In a case where the parent or guardian seeking custody has a criminal conviction, the bill clarifies that the judge or conference officer may perform an initial evaluation to determine if that parent or guardian poses a threat to the child. Previously under law, a mental health professional conducted the evaluation initially. A mental health professional may be called in if the court determines that further evaluation is necessary.

The bill was signed into law as Act 32 of 2012.

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The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 815, which requires that legal representation is provided for a child in all juvenile proceedings and cannot be waived at any stage of a proceeding, except at an intake conference conducted by a juvenile probation officer following the submission of a written allegation.

This bill was introduced in response to the severity of problems discovered in the Luzerne County juvenile justice system, in which the right to counsel in a great number of proceedings were routinely waived resulting in placement in a juvenile detention facility. 

The bill was signed into law as Act 23 of 2012.

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The Senate unanimously approved legislation that allows a private driving training instructor to teach a driver education program at a school when there are no certified professional educators available who are qualified to teach driver education.

Under Senate Bill 743, a private driving training instructor will only be considered after the school district has posted the job for 10 days with no qualified candidate coming forward to fill the position, and there are no other qualified, Department of Education certified individuals available to fill the driver’s education position.

The bill was signed into law as Act 31 of 2012.

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The Senate unanimously approved companion bills, House Bill 469 and House Bill 470, which allow only individuals licensed as registered nurses or practical nurses to use the title “nurse.”

Only those licensed under the Professional Nursing Law are exempt from the measure.

The bills also permit the use of a descriptive title for “nurse assistive personnel.”  The term “nurse assistive personnel” describes persons providing health care services under the supervision of a professional or practical nurse.

House Bill 469 makes changes to the Practical Nurse Law and House Bill 470 makes the same changes to the Professional Nursing Law.

House Bills 469 and 470 were signed into law as Act 34 and 35 of 2012, respectively.

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The Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 341, which would authorize the Department of Agriculture to implement an Automotive Fuel Testing and Disclosure Program to test automotive fuel on a random, unannounced basis.

Under the bill, the department would take samples of automotive fuel wherever it is sold, inspect the labeling of automotive fuel dispensers and storage tanks, enter into contractual agreements with qualified laboratories for analysis, and promulgate any necessary regulations.

The Department sampled 10 percent of devices in Pennsylvania, and anticipates that 10,800 of the estimated 108,000 meters in the state would require testing.

El proyecto de ley pasa ahora a la Cámara. 

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The Senate unanimously passed a bill that will allow nursing home patients to receive lower cost prescription drugs through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

House Bill 1500 consolidates the Long-Term Care Patient Access to Pharmaceuticals Act into Title 51 (Military Affairs), allowing pharmacies to repackage, re-label, and dispense prescription drugs that nursing home residents acquire through the VA.

The bill was signed into law as Act 36 of 2012.

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The Senate unanimously passed a bill that requires more detailed information on the use of state-owned aircraft be made available on the Internet.

Senate Bill 110 requires that the website is to be updated at least monthly and must include the following:

  •  Flight Date and identification number;
  • Name of Agency requesting the flight and the aircraft used;
  • Originating city and all destination cities;
  • Departure and arrival times;
  • All passengers (including first and last names and titles except state police security personnel);
  • The public purpose of the trip;
  • The total number of hours; and
  • The invoice amount

 The bill was signed into law as Act 26 of 2012.

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The Senate unanimously passed a bill that would provide tax credits for expenses incurred in renovating a historic building.  Senate Bill 1150 would create the historic Preservation Incentive Program, and would offer up to 25 percent state tax credit on qualified historic restoration projects. 

The program would mirror a similar federal program and would begin July 1, 2012.  The bill would limit funding to a maximum of $500,000 per project and $10 million annually for the program.

El proyecto de ley pasa ahora a la Cámara.

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The Senate unanimously passed an amended version of House Bill 823, which would require municipalities to give monthly notice of all finally-approved residential developments or planned residential developments to school superintendents for the purposes of anticipating the impact on the local school district.

According to the bill, the notice would include the location of the development, the number and types of units included in the development and the expected construction schedule of the development.

The bill was further amended in the House and returned to the Senate.

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The Senate unanimously concurred in House amendments to Senate Bill 730, which permits Second Class townships to transfer property to a council of government without competitive bidding or advertising.

The Second Class Township Code previously permitted the transfer of real and personal property to 17 types of governmental, utility, and non-profit agencies without requiring notification and bidding.  This legislation expanded this exemption to the transfer of real property valued at over $1,500, personal property valued at over $1,000 and for letting contracts to include councils of governments and other entities formed through an intergovernmental cooperation agreement. 

The House amended the bill to permit townships to sell real property or personal property without utilizing the bidding process in instances where no bids are received after proper notice.

The bill was signed into law as Act 30 of 2012.

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