By a vote of 44-6, the Senate approved House Bill 169, which would increase the prize limits allowed for organizations conducting small games of chance.  The legislation is similar to Senate Bill 444, which passed the Senate last year.  HB 169 has slightly higher prize limits than Senate Bill 444.

            Provisions include:

  • Maximum prize for single game of chance is $1,000;
  • No more than $25,000 in prizes for any games of chance in any seven-day period;
  • Up to $10,000 in prizes may be awarded in raffles in any calendar month; and
  • Overall, the total amount of prizes awarded for all of the mentioned games above may not exceed $25,000 

Organizations would be allowed to conduct raffles worth more than $1,000 if all of the following apply:

  • The licensing authority has issued a special permit for the raffle;
  • The organization shall be eligible to receive no more than eight special permits in any licensed term except volunteer fire, ambulance and rescue organizations which shall be eligible for 10;
  • Only one raffle may be conducted under each special permit
  • The total cash value of all prizes awarded may be no more than $200,000 per licensed term except volunteer fire, ambulance and rescue organizations which total may be no more than $250,000

The bill goes back to the House for concurrence in technical amendments.

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The Senate unanimously approved legislation that would require a court to publicly state the reason for the disposition of a delinquent child.

Under Senate Bill 818, the court would be required to state the reasons for its disposition on the record in open court along with the goals, terms and conditions of that disposition.

If a child is to be committed to out-of-home placement, the court must state why the juvenile was commitment to the specific facility. The court would also have to detail how the placement is the least restrictive and in the best interests of public safety and the child’s treatment, rehabilitation and welfare.

The bill is now in the House.

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The Senate unanimously approved legislation that would provide for emergency plans, GPS mapping, and signage for oil and gas wells.

Senate Bill 995 would require gas well operators to adopt emergency regulations for gas and oil wells, including GPS mapping coordinates for each well, an emergency response plan for each site, registering plans with the county emergency organizations and the posting of reflective signs at each well site. Emergency response plans must also be developed and shared with state, county and local officials.

The bill would also more accurately define “unconventional oil or gas well” and the process by which the gas is extracted, hydraulic fracturing, to align these definitions with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.  

The House amended the bill to add the definition of “unconventional formation” and “unconventional well.”

Unconventional formation is a geological shale formation existing below the base of the elk sandstone where natural gas generally cannot be produced at economic flow rates or in economic volumes except by vertical or horizontal well bores.

Unconventional well is a bore hole drilled or being drilled to produce natural gas from an unconventional formation.

The bill is now headed to the governor.

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The Senate unanimously passed House Bill 398, which would require appraisal management companies to register with the Pennsylvania Department of State. Currently, individual certified real estate appraisers are licensed by the state, but third-party management companies are not. 

Appraisal management companies are business entities or individuals that manage the performance of real estate appraisals for a client by acting as a third-party intermediary between the client seeking an appraisal and the appraiser or firm of appraisers that performs the appraisal.

The bill is now in the House.

* * *

The Senate unanimously passed an amended version of House Bill 1630, which would remove the arbitrary cap of 100 percent placed on service contracts, warranties and debt suspension or cancellation agreements.

Currently no other state imposes a mark-up cap on these products and removing the cap would allow the free market to determine what cost a consumer will pay for these products.

The bill was returned to the House.

* * *

The Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 1133, which would allow other schools in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) to offer doctoral degrees.

Currently, Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) is the only PASSHE institution allowed to offer a doctoral degree program. Under this legislation, all PASSHE schools would be permitted to offer doctoral degree programs, with the exception of a doctor of philosophy degree (PhD) that would only be offered at IUP. 

The legislation would require all professional doctoral degree programs to be approved by the PASSHE board prior to being offered. 

The bill is now in the House.

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The Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 1308, which would create a new “State System of Higher Education Intellectual Property Act” to allow state-owned universities and PASSHE employees to enter into economic development agreements.

The economic development agreements would allow a state-owned university to develop and market intellectual property owned or created by a PASSHE employee.

The bill is now in the House.

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The Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 1322, which would permit the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) to enter into an agreement with any entity for the cooperative use of supplies or services.

Under this legislation, all purchases and agreements must be made through a competitive bidding process.

The bill is now in the House.

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