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The Senate unanimously passed House Bill 45, known as “Right to Try” legislation, which allows terminally ill patients to use investigative medical treatments, products, and devices that have not yet been approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“Terminal illness” is defined in the bill as a disease or condition that will result in death or permanent unconscious without the receipt of life-sustaining procedures. Patients eligible to try investigative treatments must be diagnosed as terminally ill by their physician, have considered all other treatments options approved by the FDA, have been unable to participate in clinical trials of medical treatments within 100 miles of their home or have not been accepted to a clinical trial within one week of the application process, and must have received a recommendation for the investigative treatment from their physician.

If the patient receiving the treatment is a child or lacks capacity to provide consent, written consent must be provided by a legally-authorized representative or guardian on the patient’s behalf.

This bill was enacted as Act 33 of 2017.


The Senate unanimously passed House Bill 409, which provides changes to the Uniform Construction Code Review and Advisory Council under the Department of Labor and Industry.

The Review and Advisory Council provides recommendations to the governor, General Assembly and the department regarding changes to the Pennsylvania Construction Code.

The bill adds two additional seats to the council, increasing the number of appointees from 19 to 21. The term length of members will increase from two years to three years and the terms will be staggered. The two added seats will be filled by an individual to represent and provide expertise in commercial building ownership and an individual to represent and provide expertise in the construction trades.

The bill also moves the appointment privilege for three council seats from the governor to leadership in the General Assembly. If a member of the council should need to be removed, written documentation would be required and the vacancy would need to be filled within 90 days of the member’s dismissal.

The bill also allows for the creation of a subcommittee to assist with the review of changes and recommendations to construction codes. The bill calls for the subcommittee to begin the accelerated re-review of the 2015 construction codes. For subcommittee recommendations, the bill calls for at least three public hearings and for the code adoption process to include a 120-day public comment period. Public comments will be shared on the Department of Labor and Industry’s website. To generate additional funds for expenses related to these changes, the bill increases the building permit fee by 50 cents.

The bill was enacted as Act 36 of 2017.


The Senate voted 46-3 for Senate Bill 530, which would amend the Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists, and Professional Counselors Act to require independent clinicians who practice marriage/family therapy and professional counseling receive a master’s degree before obtaining a license.

The bill also allows for clinical social workers to provide diagnosis to those receiving services at the independent practice. It would be illegal to provide independent clinical social work without a license and violators would face a fine of up to $10,000.

The bill would allow for an individual who is certified or licensed in another state to practice in Pennsylvania for up to 60 days without a Pennsylvania license as part of necessary relief efforts as declared by the governor or federal government.

The bill now heads to the House Professional Licensure Committee.


The Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 564, which would create the “Bridge Fencing Safety Act” to provide for the installation of protective fencing on state-owned bridges.

The bill would require PennDOT to include protective fencing when it builds new bridges or on bridges that are being renovated if they are located over major interstate highways. Exceptions would be allowed if a protective barrier is already required on the bridge or if the fencing obstructs the scenic views of the area and municipality where the bridge is located.

Current PennDOT guidelines allow for protective railing to be installed when a sidewalk is part of a bridge that crosses over an interstate or railroad, when a bridge is located near a school, playground or area that is frequented by children, or in urban areas where pedestrians may frequently cross a bridge and police surveillance is limited.

The bill now heads to the House Transportation Committee.