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The Senate passed House Bill 47 with a 35-15 vote.  The measure would create the
“Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Education and Prevention Program.”

The program would promote public awareness and educate parents on the risk factors and
prevention of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and Sudden Unexplained Death in Infants (SUDI).

The measure is now back in the House.

* * *

The Senate unanimously passed House Bill 101, which would establish the Economic Education and Personal Financial Literacy Program in elementary and secondary schools.

The omnibus amendment to the school code would make numerous changes to public school programs and operations, including:

  • School violence;
  • PA children of active military personnel;
  • Financial reporting of schools;
  • Teacher certification requirements;
  • State and local tax exemptions for school property owned by or leased to a charter school, cyber charter school or associated nonprofit foundation used for school purposes;
  • Creation of the Higher Education College Textbook Affordability, Accountability Accessibility Act;
  • Allowing approved private schools and chartered schools for the deaf and blind to apply directly to PDE for emergency permits for employee certifications;
  • Allowing a board of school directors to establish an “Operation Recognition” program to award high school diplomas to honorably discharged veterans of the Vietnam War who would have graduated from high school if not for entering military service;
  • Requirement of school entities to develop policies to allow students to self-carry asthma inhalers and epinephrine auto-injectors, provided the students demonstrate competency to use them;
  • Establish the Science in Motion Program;
  • Requiring the Department of Education to provide school districts with information and curriculum concerning economics, economic education and personal financial literacy;
  • Establishing a sexual violence awareness education program and a student bill of rights;
  • Establishing a program to permit older Pennsylvanians to take college courses on a tuition-free basis;
  • Requiring the Department of Education to pay all or a portion of the cost for teachers to obtain National Board of Professional Teaching Standards certification;
  • Establishing state standards for business, computer and information technology courses;
  • Requiring schools to include information regarding food allergy reaction management in their local wellness policies;
  • Requiring the Department of Education to report graduation and dropout rates in Pennsylvania and establish and maintain a data collection and reporting system; and
  • Requiring the Department of Education to develop a model dating violence policy and would also require school districts to develop a dating violence policy, conduct dating violence training for staff and provide dating violence education to all students in grades 7 through 12.

El proyecto de ley vuelve ahora a la Cámara.

* * *

The Senate unanimously approved legislation that strengthens the penalty for impersonating a police officer in the City of Philadelphia.

Under the First Class City Government Law, this crime is currently a  misdemeanor,
punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $500.


House Bill 106
repeals both the offense and penalty of impersonating a police officer in the First Class City Government Law in order to strengthen a similar but more general offense contained in Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses), which grades this crime as a second-degree misdemeanor that is punishable by up to two years imprisonment and a fine of up to $5,000.

By removing the impersonation offense from First Class City Government Law, a defendant
would not be able to argue for the lesser punishment found in that code.

The bill is now on the governor’s desk.

* * *

The Senate unanimously approved legislation that strengthens the penalty for impersonating a police officer in the City of Pittsburgh.

Under the House Bill 105, this crime would be upgraded from a $500 misdemeanor to a second-degree a  misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months imprisonment and a fine of up to $5,000.

By removing the impersonation offense from Second Class City Law, a defendant cannot argue for the lesser punishment, which exists under the current law.

The bill is now on the governor’s desk.

* * *

The Senate
unanimously passed

House Bill 181
, which would limit of the power of Game Commission enforcement officials to stop, detain and search people.

Under the bill, a game official could only pull someone over under reasonable suspicion or administrative procedures for road check points, and must state the purpose of the stop.

Additionally, officers could only perform a search of a person and their belongings due to probable cause, by consent or by warrant requirements. Lastly, a Game enforcement officer could only demand identification from a person if that individual is the subject of an official investigation.

The bill was prompted by complaints that many game officials were abusing their authority, and that their enforcement powers are above and beyond what even police officers have.

The bill is now on the governor’s desk.

* * *

By a vote of 34-14, the Senate passed a bill that would crack down on businesses that designate some employees as “independent contractors” to save money on fair wages, workers compensation costs and compliance with other state work rules.

House Bill 400 (The Workplace Fraud Act) sets standards and provides penalties for misclassification of a company’s employees. An intentional violation could bring criminal penalties.

Under the legislation, independent contractors must at least:

  • be free from control and direction for such services and customarily perform such services in an independently established business or profession;
  • maintain a separate business office (which may be in an individual’s home);
  • operate under written contracts that include the work, payment, and prohibit the independent contractor from retain anyone other than employees or other independent contractors that meet these criteria to complete work; and
  • complete their federal income taxes as an independent contractor.

The bill now goes back to the House for concurrence to Senate amendments.

* * *

The Senate unanimously approved

House Bill 727
, which  would bring state penalties for the offense of trademark counterfeiting in line with the stricter federal standards.

If a person is convicted of  this offense, the court would order the person to pay restitution to the trademark owner and to any other victim of the offense.

The bill is now in the House Rules Committee.

* * *

The Senate unanimously approved legislation that requires private vendors who want to establish a halfway house in a community to provide notice and a public hearing.

A halfway house is a community corrections facility for inmates with prerelease status or individuals who are on parole.


House Bill 1281
would provide the community an opportunity to receive information, ask questions and express concerns regarding the request to build a halfway house and the subsequent impact on the community. A transcript of the public hearing would be submitted to the Department of Corrections as part of the vendor’s request to build and operate a facility.

A public hearing would not be required for renewal of an existing contract at a facility that has been in use for a minimum of five years.

The bill is now on the governor’s desk.

* * *

The Senate unanimously approved legislation that would amend the “Continuing-Care
Provider Registration and Disclosure Act” to  give the Insurance Department more administrative flexibility to conduct financial exams on the growing number of continuing care providers.


House Bill 1376
would  require continuing care providers to keep certain business records in a manner determined by the Insurance Department to facilitate the Department’s financial examination of the continuing care providers.

Also, the department would be required to examine continuing care providers every four years, with an examination at least once during a provider’s first five years of operation, and once during the provider’s second five years of operation.

Examinations would be conducted at the Insurance commissioner’s discretion based on the following criteria: results of financial statement analyses, changes in management or ownership, certified public accountant reports, the volume and nature of resident complaints, length of time provider or facility has been furnishing care, changes to disclosure statements or resident agreements, expansion of existing facilities or addition of new facilities, and other information that the commissioner deemed relevant.

The bill is now on the governor’s desk.

* * *

The Senate unanimously passed a package of bills seeking to conform municipal police
and firefighter provisions to federal and state anti-discriminating laws.


House Bills 1515
15161517, and 1518 would require applicants for municipal police and
firefighter positions to take a physical fitness or agility examination. These bills would also require each applicant, if made a conditional offer of employment, to be given a physical and psychological medical examination.

This package of bills would also require the commission to rank the applicants from highest scoring to lowest upon completion of the written and physical fitness exams.

The amended bills were returned to the House.

* * *

The Senate unanimously passed

House Bill 1671
, which adds a clerk of the orphan’s court to the County Records Committee in every county except Philadelphia, increasing membership of the committee from 15 members to 16 members.

The bill is now on the governor’s desk.


* * *

The Senate unanimously approved legislation that would clarify that service contracts
are not insurance products and, therefore, should not be regulated by insurance law.

A service contract would be defined as “a contract or an agreement to perform the service, repair, replacement or maintenance of property and provide liability.” Its purpose is to provide coverage for a service repair and replacement due to normal wear and tear or inherent defect. Insurance, on the other hand, provides coverage against a property being destroyed or damaged for extraordinary reasons other than normal wear and tear.

Therefore, under House Bill 1774, a service contract would not be construed to be the business of insurance and would be exempt from insurance law.

Currently, Pennsylvania does not have a specific service contract law.

The bill is now on the governor’s desk.

* * *

By a vote of 47-0, the Senate passed an amended version of

House Bill 1990
that would   increase the annual meeting and dues expenses allowed for county directors of veterans’ affairs from a maximum of
$100 to a maximum of $400.


El proyecto de ley está ahora en la Cámara.

* * *


The Senate unanimously approved legislation that would increase
the monetary sum of civil actions authorized to be brought and heard within the jurisdiction of the Philadelphia Municipal Court and the Magisterial District judges.

Under House Bill 2172, the Philadelphia Municipal Court and Magisterial District judges would have jurisdiction over civil actions when the sum amounted is less than $12,000.

Current law has a $10,000 limit for Philadelphia Municipal Court and $8,000 for Magisterial District judges.

In cases before both courts, plaintiffs may waive a portion of their claim of more than
$12,000 so as to bring the matter within the monetary jurisdiction of the courts based on the new limits.

An amendment was added to the bill that would reduce the number of judges in the Fifteenth Judicial District of Common Pleas Court (Chester County) from 14 to 13 as a temporary cost-cutting measure. This act would expire Jan. 8, 2014.

The bill is now in the House Rules Committee.


* * *


The Senate approved House Bill 2212 with a 46-1 vote.  The bill would rename the Mobile Home Park Rights Act as the “Manufactured Home Community Rights Act” and would replace all references to “mobile home” with the term “manufactured home.”

The bill now goes to the House.


* * *


The Senate voted 44-3 in favor of legislation that would strengthen the penalty for drivers who seriously injure or kill an on-duty emergency responder.


House Bill 2246
, which would be known as the “Sgt. Michael Weigand Law,” would add up to five additional years, at the court’s discretion, to the penalty for homicide by vehicle if the victim was an emergency responder acting in an official capacity. If an offender seriously injures an on-duty emergency responder, it would be considered a third-degree felony and the court would have the discretion to add an additional two years to the sentence.


and allows s
The bill would also establish several new annual hauling permits chool-chartered
buses to transport school children to a school-related event only if that vehicle is not used to transport school children to or from their residences or designated bus stops.

The bill is now in the House Rules Committee.


* * *

By a vote of 42-5, the Senate passed

House Bill 2291
, the Capital Budget Bill.

The bill authorizes $4.5 billion in capital improvement projects in categories ranging from
transportation assistance to flood control and park improvements.

The bill now goes back to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.


* * *

The Senate unanimously approved legislation that would protect Pennsylvania trucking firms from unfairly being held responsible for damage caused by a shipper improperly packing goods.


House Bill 2375 adds a chapter titled “Motor Carriers” to the Transportation Code and voids agreements in transportation contracts that protect a shipper from liability for loss or damage caused by negligence.

The bill is now on the governor’s desk.


* * *

The Senate voted 43-4 for legislation that would establish procurement goals for veteran- owned small businesses.

Under Senate Bill 162, the Department of General Services and other state purchasing agencies would be required to establish a policy and publicize regulations regarding veteran-owned businesses. The state’s various purchasing agencies would be required to set an annual goal of issuing at least 5 percent of their contracts (by total dollar amount) to veteran-owned businesses.

The bill is now in the House.

* * *

The Senate voted 47-1 for legislation establishing “installation police officers” at Fort
Indiantown Gap and other designated commonwealth military facilities and lists their powers and duties while patrolling the facilities.

Under

Senate Bill 384
, installation officers would be responsible for protecting and enforcing good order at Fort Indiantown Gap, escorting disorderly individuals and trespassers from the grounds, preventing and investigating criminal acts, apprehending, arresting and charging criminal
offenders.

Any employee commissioned to be an installation officer would successfully complete a
course of training and any other periodic training. Installation officers would be considered state employees.

The bill is now in the House.

* * *

The Senate unanimously passed

Senate Bill 890
, which would require Pennsylvania schools to report on the interscholastic athletic opportunities available to boys and girls in secondary school due to federal requirements regarding gender equity in educational programs that receive federal funding.

The bill would also require the Department of Education to develop the reporting form and
instructions, provide technical assistance, disclose the reporting results publicly and publicize any rules, regulations or standards necessary to implement the law.

The bill now goes to the House.

* * *


By a vote of 32-16, the Senate approved


Senate Bill 906
, which would define “agricultural bio-security area” in the Agricultural Code and give the Department of Agriculture the authority to require that such an area be established, if necessary, to control or contain disease. The bill would require clearly marked posted notice of this area.

The bill would also amend the Crimes Code to make it a first-degree misdemeanor to enter such an area without authorization and without first performing the posted bio-security measures.

Also, trespassing into an agricultural bio-security area would be considered “ecoterrorism” if there is intent to release a dangerous transmissible disease or hazardous substance into the environment.

El proyecto de ley está ahora en la Cámara.

* * *

The Senate unanimously passed

Senate Bill 976
, which would create the Missing Endangered Person Advisory System under the Pennsylvania Amber Alert System law.


The Missing Endangered Person Advisory System would assist the State Police in the recovery of missing adults who are at special risk of harm or injury through prompt notification to the general public, appropriate law enforcement authorities, and other agencies. The State Police would operate the system.


El proyecto de ley está ahora en la Cámara.


* * *

The Senate unanimously passed

Senate Bill 1272
, which would permit the state Game Commission to create regulations that would allow the transfer of tags from a licensed mentor hunter to a youth mentor hunter who is being introduced to the sport.  The legislation would only allow the transfer of one antlerless tag
per year.


The bill would also lower the age for when a hunter can obtain a falconry permit from 16 to 12 and change the fees for permits from $25 per bird to a flat fee of $50.


This bill is now in the House.

* * *


The Senate voted 38-9 for Senate Bill 1280, which would amend the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error (MCARE) Act by locking in future basic insurance coverage requirements for hospitals and health care providers.

For policies issued or renewed in 2002, the basic insurance coverage would be $500,000 per occurrence or claim and $1.5 million all told annually for a health care provider that is not a hospital, or $2.5 million all told annually for a hospital.

For policies issued or renewed in 2003 or after, the basic insurance coverage would be $500,000 per occurrence or claim and $1.5 million all told annually for a health care provider that is not a hospital; $1 million per occurrence or claim and $3 million all told annually for a non-participating health care provider or $2.5 million all told annually for a hospital.

For 2003 or after, the limit of liability fund would be $500,000 for each occurrence and $1.5 million all told annually. If the basic insurance coverage requirement is increased for each year following the increase the limit of liability of the fund would be $250,000 for each occurrence and $750,000 all told annually and zero in other cases.

For assessments for 2003-2018, the fund would be funded by an assessment on each participating heath care provider. Assessments would be levied by the Insurance Department
on or after January 1 of each year.

For 2018 and after, if the basic insurance coverage requirement is increased the Insurance Department could discount the total assessment by a specified amount.

The bill is now in the House.


* * *

The Senate passed

Senate Bill 1429
by a 47-0 vote.  This bill would remove second class (Allegheny County) and second class A (Bucks, Delaware, Montgomery counties) from the Municipal Consolidation or Merger Act and expand the procedure to be used to consolidate or merge two or more municipalities into
a single municipality.

Currently, consolidation or merger may be commenced by a joint agreement adopted by ordinance by the governing bodies of the municipalities proposed for consolidation or merger or by initiative of electors.


This bill would add a third option allowing one or more of the municipalities to use a joint agreement and the remaining municipalities to use initiative of electors.


This bill would also establish the Commonwealth Municipalities Consolidation and Merger Program within the Department of Community and Economic Development.  This program would provide loans and grants to municipalities under guidelines issued by the DCED.


El proyecto de ley está ahora en la Cámara.


* * *

The Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 1469, which would make numerous changes to update the state’s Right-to-Know Law.

This bill would give agencies 30 business days, instead of 30 calendar days, when an
extension to respond to a records’ request is sought. It would also allow county, school districts and municipalities to charge up to half of what it charges to copy records when requesters ask to review records even if duplication is not sought.

Lastly, this bill would narrow the types of records government contractors and volunteer
emergency responders must provide.


El proyecto de ley está ahora en la Cámara.