The Senate unanimously approved House Bill 619, which recognizes June 19 of each year as “Juneteenth National Freedom Day” in Pennsylvania.

The holiday is a reference to June 19, 1865 in Galveston, Texas, when slaves in that state learned they had been freed. Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery and its impact in the United States, the abolition movement and is a celebration of independence, human rights and African-American culture.

The measure does not require employers to treat June 19 as a legal holiday; or require them to provide paid leave.

House Bill 619 became Act 9 of 2019.


The Senate voted 28 to 21 for House Bill 800, which would have expanded the Educational Improvement Tax Credit program.

The legislation would have increased — from $160 million to $260 million — tax credits available for contributions from business firms to scholarship, educational improvement and pre-kindergarten scholarship organizations.

Educational improvement and scholarship organizations would have been required to increase their contributions from 80 percent to 90 percent of their annual receipts.

Starting in July tax credits available for contributions to scholarship organizations would have increased by 10 percent annually if more than 90 percent of tax credits were used by taxpayers during the prior year.

The maximum annual household income would have been raised to $95,000 in addition to income allowance.

House Bill 800 became Veto #1 of 2019. In a statement, Governor Wolf said ““Education is the cornerstone of democracy, and it is my job as the leader of this commonwealth to ensure fairness and accountability in our classrooms. House Bill 800 would pour funding into a program that lacks these two critical aspects.”


The Senate approved Senate Bill 25 by a vote of 44-6. The bill would allow certified nurse practitioners to practice as independent practitioners within the scope of their clinical specialty.

The bill would remove the requirement that nurse practitioners practice under a collaboration agreement with a doctor. The bill would also recognize certified nurse practitioners as a “primary care providers” under managed care and other health plans.

The bill was referred to the House Professional Licensure committee.


The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 314, which would establish the Pennsylvania Rural Health Redesign Center Authority to protect and promote access to high-quality health care. The authority would administer the global budget model for rural hospitals by undertaking the following responsibilities:

  • Evaluating and choosing rural hospital participants;
  • Providing technical assistance, training and education;
  • Calculating, approving and administering global budgets;
  • Reviewing and approving transformation plans and changes to payment mechanisms and exceptions to agreed-upon payment rules;
  • Assisting work with community organizations to determine targeted population health goals;
  • Evaluating progress in reaching population health goals, along with costs and service quality;
  • Annually assessing compliance with transformation plans and global budget targets;
  • Requiring corrective action plans from rural hospital participants that fail to submit or comply with their transformation plans or meet their global budget targets;
  • Terminating rural hospital participants from the global budget model; and
  • Hiring independent evaluators to determine the progress of the global budget model.

The board for the authority would be responsible for adopting bylaws that include provisions to address conflicts of interests and restrict board discussions and decisions to the administration of the global budget model. The board would also make, execute and deliver contracts, grants and other instruments as well as manage finances, work with state agencies and hire employees as necessary.

Board members would not receive a salary and employees of the board would not be considered state employees.

The bill was referred to the House Health committee.


The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 543, which would establish a board of wardens for the Port of Philadelphia by increasing the rates that river pilots may charge to bring vessels up the river.

The bill provides for an increase of 1 percent a year for the next three years.

The bill was referred to the House Professional Licensure committee.


The Senate approved Senate Bill 621 by a vote of 32-17. The bill authorizes armed security on school property and specifies who can provide security and training requirements.

School police officers are required to complete annual training required by the Municipal Police Officers’ Education and Training Commission (MPOETC) and the basic school resource officer course of instruction offered by the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO).

Independent contractors and third-party vendors providing security are also required to complete MPOETC and NASRO trainings and provide acceptable criminal history background check, child abuse report and federal criminal history background check, as well as receive an employment review.

School security guards are also required to complete NASRO training. Armed security guards are required to possess a license to carry a firearm, have certification under the Lethal Weapons Training Act and provide criminal history and child abuse clearances and an employment review.

Retired law enforcement officers are exempt from some of the training requirements.

The state Commission on Crime and Delinquency is required to periodically reassess school security trainings, including criteria for third party vendors that may provide school security guard services. The commission must also post approved vendors on its website and submit an annual report on school security to the legislature.

Senate Bill 621 became Act 67 of 2019.


The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 633, which would create the Public Health Emergency Act. The bill would allow the governor, on the recommendation of the Secretary of Health, to declare a public emergency.

Notice would be required to be filed with the Legislative Reference Bureau and with the director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency. Within 72 hours, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Council would convene.

The declaration would be valid for up to 90 days unless extended by the legislature. In the event of a public health emergency, the Department of Health would be authorized to:

  • suspend departmental regulations;
  • promulgate temporary regulations to address the public health emergency;
  • require reporting relating to disease, infection or condition;
  • establish requirements for health care facilities and licensed health care practitioners and pharmacists to manage a disease outbreak or unusual expression of illness; and
  • authorize public health workers to provide prescription medication to prevent or control the spread of disease.

The bill was referred to the House Health committee.


The Senate approved Senate Bill 695 by a vote of 49-1. The bill continues the current rate-setting methodology for payments made to county and nonpublic nursing facilities that are enrolled in the medical assistance program, until June 30, 2022.

The bill extends to June 30, 2024, assessment dates for nursing facilities, intermediate care facilities for persons with an intellectual disability and Philadelphia hospitals.

The legislation empowers the Department of Public Welfare to direct a medical assistance managed care organization to deduct unpaid nursing facility assessments, penalties and interest within 60 days of the payment due date until the full amount is recovered.

The department is not permitted to enter into a full-risk brokerage model for the delivery of medical transportation services in the state until it commissions and receives the results of an analysis.

The department also needs an analysis to be permitted to implement a uniform statewide preferred drug list for the medical assistance managed care organizations to determine the projected cost to the medical managed care organization; and the projected supplemental rebates that could be obtained by the department through a uniform statewide preferred drug list.

Senate Bill 695 became Act 19 of 2019.


The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 698 which amends the Medical Practice Act by clarifying a physician’s authority to have a designee prepare and submit physician/physician assistant written agreements to the State Department online PALS licensing system.

Senate Bill 698 became Act 68 of 2019.


The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 699, which amends the Osteopathic Medical Act by clarifying a physician’s authority to have a designee prepare and submit physician/physician-assistant written agreements to the State Department’s online PALS licensing system.

Senate Bill 699 became Act 69 of 2019.


The Senate approved Senate Bill 700 by a vote of 49-1. The measure establishes a new process for schools to receive reimbursement for the cost of construction projects.

This process includes submitting a summary of a schoolwide study, bid, construction documents and confirmation that the project complies with legal requirements. To get approval, the Department of Education must verify the information given and assess the project to ensure that it aligns with enrollment numbers and educational needs.

Schools using high-performance building standards will receive a 10 percent increase above the standard reimbursement formula if they can demonstrate a projected positive return vs projects with regular construction standards.

The bill also requires the department to establish a maintenance project grant program to support eligible projects. Schools are required to match 50 percent of each grant awarded for non-emergency projects.

No school can be awarded an annual grant allocation that exceeds 20 percent of the program’s available funding. No less than 20 percent of grant funds would be awarded for school safety and security projects.

Senate Bill 700 became Act 70 of 2019.


The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 703, which would allow the Joint Committee on Documents to grant an agency a maximum of two 180-day extensions to promulgate a regulation while continuing its existing policy.

An agency would be required to promulgate a regulation within 18 months of the original order of the joint committee.

The bill was referred to the House State Government committee.


The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 712 which reauthorizes the “Prudent Person” investment authority through 2024.

This authority allows the state treasurer to make annual investment income by investing funds in public equities and high yield debt assets. This must be done according to prudent investment standards.

Senate Bill 712 became Act 20 of 2019.