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The Senate unanimously approved House Bill 1559, which would require schools to adopt age-appropriate suicide prevention and exploitation awareness programs.

The suicide prevention programs would be geared for students in grades 6 to 12. The exploitation awareness programs would be focused on kids in grades kindergarten through 8. The programs would be made available in all school districts, charter schools, intermediate units and area vocational-technical schools.

A legislative hearing on suicide prevention last year revealed that nearly 86 percent of all youth suicides could have been avoided if the obvious signals were not ignored or misinterpreted. Of that 86 percent, 10 percent of the children who committed suicide had attempted suicide on more than one prior occasion.

The bill now returns to the House for consideration of Senate amendments.


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The Senate’s unanimously approved House Bill 198, which would start a dyslexia screening pilot program operated by the Department of Education.

Dyslexia is a reading disability that occurs when the brain does not properly recognize and process certain symbols.

House Bill 198 would provide evidence-based early screening and intervention services for children with risk factors. It would also help state officials evaluate the effectiveness of early reading assistance programs for children with risk factors for dyslexia, plus evaluate whether those programs can reduce future special education costs.

The bill was unanimously approved by the House and now goes to the governor.


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The Senate unanimously approved House Bill 2009, which would update the state’s credit union code.

The proposal would, among other things, clarify which credit union positions are actually officers, require credit unions to keep a copy of their original articles of incorporation and any amendments, limit interest rates on loans, and update notice provisions to permit notice to be provided by fax, e-mail or other electronic communication.

The code was last updated more than 10 years ago.

The bill now goes to the governor for enactment.


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The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 1077, which is aimed at stopping the theft of railroad materials.

The measure would restrict scrap processors and recycling facilities from buying railroad property from individuals who cannot properly document the items. It would also add “railroad materials” to the list of restricted resources in the Scrap Metal Theft Prevention Act of 2008.

El proyecto de ley pasa ahora a la Cámara.


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The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 1383, which would authorize $5.612 billion for work on state and county-owned bridges.

Specifically, the capital bill would authorize $4.614 billion for work on state bridges, and $998.2 million for work on county-owned bridges.

The legislature would still need to specifically appropriate funds before work can begin on any of the itemized projects.

The bill now goes to the House for approval.


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The Senate unanimously approved House Bill 1384, which would authorize $18.785 billion for itemized capital state and local highway projects.

The legislature would still need to specifically appropriate funds before work can begin on any of the itemized projects.

El proyecto de ley pasa ahora a la Cámara.


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The Senate today unanimously passed “Rocco’s Law” legislation that would toughen penalties against those who severely injure or kill a police dog.

Senate Bill 1261 was named after Rocco, a Pittsburgh canine officer that was stabbed while helping police apprehend a suspect. The dog later died from his injuries.

The bill, along with House Bill 2026, would amend Pennsylvania’s Dog Law and the Crimes Code to toughen penalties against anyone who severely injures or kills a police animal. The measure would increase the seriousness of the crime from a third to a second degree felony. The second degree felony comes with a fine of $25,000 and up to 10 years in prison.

Senate Bill 1261 now goes to the House.


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The Senate unanimously passed House Bill 119, which would establish an Emergency Medical Services (EMS) memorial flag to honor EMS personnel killed in the line of duty. The flag would be similar to the Firefighters Memorial flag created by Act 168 of 1990.

The bill would allow the flag to be displayed over EMS service memorials, funerals for EMS providers, from the poles of any public area and as directed by the director of EMS in the Department of Health.

The bill now awaits the governor’s signature.


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The Senate unanimously passed a bill to allow non-uniformed employees in Scranton to purchase military time toward their retirement.

The Second Class A City Employee Pension Law (Act 400 of 1959) provides that a member of the pension system in second class A cities (Scranton), who is not a member of the pension system prior to being enlisted in the armed services, may only buy back retirement service credit for up to five years for prior military service, if he or she began employment with the city within three years after discharge from military service.

House Bill 128 removes the three-year time frame within which members of the pension system in Scranton must begin working for the city to be eligible to buy retirement service credit for time spent serving in the armed forces.

This bill would only apply to Scranton since it is the state’s the only Second Class A city.

The measure now goes to the governor for enactment.


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By unanimous vote, the Senate passed a bill that would ensure that future generations of Pennsylvanians will understand the causes and effects of genocides and other crimes against humanity, including the Holocaust.

Under House Bill 1424, the state Department of Education would prepare and advise on school curricula related to the Holocaust and other atrocities throughout history.

Curricula would include the breadth of the history of the Holocaust; the definition, history, response and actions taken in the face of genocide; and personal responsibility in the face of the abridgement of human rights.

The bill now goes to the governor’s desk.


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The Senate unanimously passed a bill intended to raise the fee for each person who has a nuclear power reactor construction permit or operating license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The current fee, set in 2007, is $550,000. Senate Bill 1355 wouldincrease the annual fee to $650,000. The new fee would apply to annual fees due on and after July 1, 2015.

Fees collected by the Department of Environmental Protection are deposited in a restricted account known as the “Radiation Protection Fund” and appropriated by the department for carrying out its duties.

El proyecto de ley pasa ahora a la Cámara.


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The Senate unanimously approved House Bill 1420, which would require pulse oximetry screening for newborn children.

Pulse oximetry screening would be required before a newborn leaves the hospital to check for Congenital Heart Defect (CHD). The screenings are noninvasive and take less than10 minutes.

CHDs are structural heart defects that often are associated with hypoxemia among infants during the newborn period and typically require some type of intervention – usually surgical – early in life. If left undertreated, CHDs can cause severe disability or death.

A pulse oximetry screening quickly determines the amount of oxygen in a person’s blood by placing a scanner across the infant’s foot.

House Bill 1420 now goes back to the House for reconsideration.


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The Senate voted unanimously to approve Senate Bill 621, which would make a number of amendments to the Probate, Estates, and Fiduciaries Code (Probate code).

One main amendment would consolidate the Charitable Instruments Act of 1971 into the Probate Code, as Chapter 79. Another would add Chapter 76 to the Probate Code, replacing powers of appointment measures that would be repealed.

The bill would also provide a method for determining title to a descendant’s interest in real estate, allowing an heir, municipality containing the property, a redevelopment authority, or a non-profit corporation to petition the court for ownership. In the case of competing petitions, preference would be given in that order.

It would also make certain changes relating to the jurisdiction of the orphans’ court, which would now be able judge quiet title cases to property claims.

The health care powers of attorney would also be amended, to make clear that a health care agent has the power to authorize admission to medical, nursing, residential or a similar facility, or to enter into agreements for the principal’s care.

Lastly, the bill would amend the code so that a trustee can rely upon a current beneficiary’s nomination of another person to receive required notices for as long as they choose.

Senate Bill 621 now goes to the House for consideration.


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The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 803, which would exempt all active-duty military from the local earned income tax.

The bill would exempt all active-duty military from the tax, regardless of whether it is earned in Pennsylvania or not.

Senate Bill 803 now goes to the House for consideration.


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The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 1205, which would allow seminaries to offer a degree that is not listed in their certification, as well as provide requirements for colleges wishing to change their designation to “university” and trade schools to change their designation to “college.”

Under the bill, seminaries would now be able to offer courses unlisted in their certification. Currently, only universities and colleges can do this.

In addition, colleges would be able to change their designation from ‘college’ to ‘university.’ This could be done by submitting a letter to the Department of Education from the president of the institution. The letter should contain proof that the institution fulfills at least 2 of the 3 units required to become a university, with the promise of meeting the third within five years. They also have to have been in practice for 10 years in good standing and accreditation with the state, and have approval from the college’s board of trustees.

There are three units required for a college to become a university including having at least one undergraduate major in both the arts and the sciences, advanced degree programs in the arts and sciences with at least one major in both arts and sciences at the undergraduate level, and any combination of at least five advanced degrees or professional programs at the graduate level.

This bill would also allow a “trade school” to change its designation to “college” if it holds a certificate of authority to confer, at the minimum, associate degrees in specialized technology and is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges.

El proyecto de ley está ahora en la Cámara.


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The Senate voted unanimously to approve Senate Bill 1377, which would extend the sunset date for the collection of wireless Enhanced (E-911 service).

The law was previously set to expire on June 30, 2014. The bill would extend it by one year to June 30, 2015. The E-911 system links emergency callers with the appropriate public resources in their area, including fire, medical, or police.

El proyecto de ley está ahora en la Cámara.


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