The Senate voted 48-1 for House Bill 761, which makes numerous tax code changes, including an initiative that provides $1.7 billion in tax credits to Royal Dutch Shell to build an ethane cracker plant in Beaver County.
Under the bill, the tax credit is capped at $66 million annually, and is not available until 2017. The credit is predicated on Shell spending at least $1 billion constructing the plant and creating 2,500 construction jobs.
Some of the other tax code changes in the legislation:
- Exempt wrapping/packaging of re-sale items from the state sales tax;
- Permit a surviving spouse to file a single tax return for the year in which their spouse died;
- Exempt the transfer of a family farm from the realty transfer and/or inheritance taxes if the farm changes hands between family members;
- Expand the state’s film tax credit to sound studios and qualify the insurance premiums and bank shares taxes for the program; and
- Establish educational opportunity, historic preservation incentive, community based services and small business job creation tax credit programs.
- The governor signed the bill into law as Act 85 of 2012
The Senate voted 32 to 17 for Senate Bill 1466, the state’s $27.7 billion budget for fiscal 2012-13.
The spending plan was largely patterned from a negotiated agreement the Senate hammered out in May that restored $517 million in funds that Gov. Tom Corbett recommended cutting in his February budget proposal.
The budget makes numerous funding restorations while holding the line on taxes. It contains state spending at a 2 percent increase over the previous year’s budget.
Senate Bill 1466 fully reverses the projected funding cuts to colleges. In turn, school officials pledged to keep tuition hikes below the inflation rate. The measure would also partially restore funding to public schools, including $50 million for Accountability Block Grants and $50 million for distressed school districts.
The measure restores half ($84 million) of the funds the governor proposed cutting from county human service programs; as well as easing cuts for hospitals and nursing homes. The bill also provides $365 million in business tax cuts and credits.
Many Democrats voted against the budget, claiming the cuts were steeper than necessary, that stagnant public school subsidies will trigger more local property tax hikes and that the spending plan fails to adequately invest in economic development and jobs programs. The state ended the year with a $649 million general fund balance. Lawmakers put $380 million in reserve.
The budget was signed into law just minutes before the midnight deadline as Act 9A of 2012.[divider top=”0″]
In a largely party line vote, the Senate voted 31-18 for House Bill 1261, the state’s Public Welfare Code.
Democrats protested that the measure reshuffles, retitles and reorganizes human service programs and resources in a shrouded attempt to mask devastating budget funding shortfalls. They said the new code turns the screws on eligibility and cuts struggling families from the basic safety net support they rely on to survive.
The bill arbitrarily eliminates 70,000 people from public assistance support and ushers in tougher requirements for medically needy families to maintain their eligibility including mandated work requirements and an enforcement strategy that cuts off assistance to the entire “family unit” if the arbitrary work requirements are not met.
House Bill 1261 implements a pilot block grant program that consolidates a host of human service programs including: Behavioral Health, Intellectual Disabilities, Homeless Assistance, assistance for seniors, assistance for Low-Income Adults, and Drug and Alcohol programs. While overall funding is being cut, the Corbett Administration claims the block grant approach will give counties greater flexibility and efficiency in their human service spending. The pilot program will be tried out in 20 counties.
The new law also includes a provision to help protect vulnerable children who previously “aged out” of the foster care system at 18. The bill creates a subsidized custodianship program to keep kids eligible for the program until they turn 21.
The measure was enacted as Act 80 of 2012.[divider top=”0″]
The Senate unanimously approved House Bill 1330, which would increase the amount of Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program funds by $100 million for fiscal 2012-13 and each ensuing year.
The measure would allocate up to $60 million to the Scholarship organization program, $30 million to the Education Improvement organization and $10 million to the Pre-kindergarten organization Scholarship program.
The bill would also increase the maximum annual household income limits for those households seeking scholarships from $60,000 to $75,000; and hike the tax credit limitation from $300,000 to $400,000 in 2012-13 and $750,000 in future years.
The bill would establish an 11-member Special Education Funding Commission to develop a formula for distributing any increases in special education funding over the level of funding for the 2010-2011 school year. The measure would also create a statewide advisory funding commission to study and make recommendations on charter and cyber charter school funding issues.
The bill now returns to the House for consideration.[divider top=”0″]
The Senate voted 47 to 2 in favor of House Bill 1901, the state’s School Code.
Under the omnibus bill, all schools are required have at least one person capable of performing CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation); school districts can enter into a cooperative agreements to jointly offer students expanded access to high quality curricula using technology; requires greater transparency and accountability in superintendent and assistant superintendent contracts; implements a teacher evaluation system that incorporates student performance, building performance and local assessment provisions; requires the disclosure of information on girls’ participation in interscholastic athletics; and allows school districts to enter agreements with other political subdivisions to provide for school security and safety.
The measure also eliminates the school lunch/breakfast reimbursement subsidy; and allows school districts to curtail and alter their educational programs for purposes of staff furloughs without Department of Education approval.
The bill was signed into law as Act 82 of 2012.[divider top=”0″]
The following non-preferred appropriations bills for 2012-13 were enacted:
The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 1122, which appropriates $214.1 million to Penn State University for fiscal 2012-13 – a $58 million cut compared to fiscal 2011-12. The bill was enacted as Act 10A of 2012.
The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 1123, which appropriates $136.076 million to the University of Pittsburgh for fiscal 2012-13. The amount is the same appropriated in 2011-12. The bill was enacted as Act 11A of 2012.
The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 1124, which appropriates $139.917 million to Temple University for fiscal 2012-13. The amount is the same appropriated in fiscal 2011-12. The bill was enacted as Act 12A of 2012.
The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 1125, which appropriate $11.163 million to Lincoln University for fiscal 2012-13. The amount is the same appropriated in fiscal 2011-12. The bill was enacted as Act 13A of 2012.
The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 1126, which appropriates $28.137 million to the University of Pennsylvania for fiscal 2012-13. The amount is the same appropriated in fiscal 2011-12. The bill was enacted as Act 14A of 2012.[divider top=”0″]
The Senate voted 43 to 6 in favor of Senate Bill 1263, the state’s Fiscal Code.
Some of the many provisions in the omnibus bill will extend the bankruptcy prohibition for the City of Harrisburg and other financially distressed Third Class cities until November 30, 2012; reduce bond amounts for owners oil and gas wells to $2,500 per well or a blanket bond of $25,000; and prohibit the Department of Environmental protection from issuing permits for oil and gas operations within the boundaries of the South Newark Basin (Bucks, Montgomery, Chester, Berks and Lancaster, and Northampton counties) until a study is completed by DCNR.
The measure also suspends the Rainy Day Fund transfer for fiscal 2011-12; requires that the State Police general government operations appropriation include funding for a cadet class of not less than 100; and establishes a $1.7 million Veterans’ Trust Fund in the State Treasury for veterans’ services.
The bill was enacted as Act 87 of 2012.[divider top=”0″]
The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 1478, which provides for an $82 million appropriation from the Workmen’s Compensation Administration Fund to the Department of Labor and Industry and to the Department of Community and Economic Development.
The funding is provided to the Department of Labor and Industry to administer the Workers’ Compensation Act and the Pennsylvania Occupational Disease Act. The bill also provides an appropriation from a restricted account within the fund for the Office of the Small Business Advocate under the Department of Community and Economic Development.
The bill was enacted as Act 8A of 2012.[divider top=”0″]
By a vote of 29-19, the Senate passed a bill that will substantially change the state’s Unemployment Compensation system to address the $3.9 billion Pennsylvania owes the federal government for loans made during the depths of the recession.
Along with changes implemented in Act 6 of 2011, Senate Bill 1310 ensures an estimated $500 million in cuts to benefits and eligibility while Pennsylvania’s taxable wage base, on which businesses pay unemployment taxes, remains among the nation’s lowest.
The House concurred in Senate amendments and the bill was signed into law as Act 60 of 2012.[divider top=”0″]
By a unanimous vote, the Senate approved legislation that will use part of the $25 billion nationwide settlement with mortgage companies to restore the Homeowners Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program. The program had been cut from the budget.
Senate Bill 1433 also provides money to the Attorney General for consumer mortgage protection programs and to the Access to Justice Account for civil legal assistance for housing issues. The bill was signed into law as Act 70 of 2012.[divider top=”0″]
The Senate unanimously passed an amended version of House Bill 197, which established a general rule that any agreement between a local government and the federal government, the Commonwealth, any other state or government of another state shall, prior to enactment of an ordinance, be reviewed by the Local Government Commission.
The bill also extended this review period from 60 to 90 days. Within 90 days of the receipt of an agreement, the commission is required to provide a written response of its review and recommended changes to the local government to ensure compatibility with law.
The House concurred in Senate amendments and the bill was signed into law as Act 92 of 2012.[divider top=”0″]
The Senate unanimously passed House Bill 823, which requires municipalities to give monthly notice of all finally-approved residential developments or planned residential developments to school superintendents for the purposes of anticipating the impact on the local school district.
According to the law, the notice will include the location of the development, the number and types of units included in the development and the expected construction schedule of the development.
The bill was amended to require applicants for certain construction permits, development or land-use change approvals to give notice to a designated wastewater system official so the system’s capacity for increased demand may be considered and determined. A wastewater official will be required to provide written notice stating the specific reasons that are causing the wastewater system to exceed capacity or if upgrades are needed.
The bill was signed into law as Act 97 of 2012.[divider top=”0″]
The Senate unanimously passed House Bill 970, which creates the Uniform Real Property Electronic Recording Act to establish uniform standards for county recorders of deeds to electronically record deeds, mortgages, leases and other property documents.
Under the law, a 13-member Electronic Recording Commission will establish the uniform standards and the commission will be comprised of eight recorders of deeds from various-sized counties, and appointees from the Department of State, Pennsylvania Bankers Association, Pennsylvania Association of Notaries, Pennsylvania Land Title Association and Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. It will not require electronic recording and the new law specifies that paper documents may be used for recording.
The bill was signed into law as Act 100 of 2012.[divider top=”0″]
The Senate unanimously passed House Bill 1310, which would permit the Liquor Control Board to issue a liquor license to a ski resort without concern for the quota of the county where the ski-resort is located.
The bill was amended in the House and returned to the Senate.[divider top=”0″]
The Senate passed House Bill 1588 by a 46-3 vote. This bill granted Adams County the ability to impose a hotel tax of up to 5%. Previous law allowed Adams County to impose a hotel tax of up to 3%.
Under this bill, 75% of the tax revenue will go to the Tourism Promotion Agency for promotion, advertising and marketing of tourism, special events and administrative costs.
It is expected that a 2% increase of the hotel tax in Adams County will raise an additional $243,000 annually.
The bill was signed into law as Act 142 of 2012.[divider top=”0″]
The Senate passed House Bill 1749 by a 46-3 vote. This bill granted Lackawanna County the ability to increase its hotel tax from 4 percent to 7 percent.
Under this bill, a minimum of 40 percent of all revenue received will be distributed to the Tourism Promotion Agency for operational, marketing and promotional expenses. Not more than 60 percent of all revenue will be distributed to the county for expenses associated with collection and enforcement of the tax, for county-owned tourist and recreational facilities, sports facilities or visitor centers, for other tourism-related activities, and for other expenditures, debts or liabilities related to tourism/recreational facilities incurred by municipal authorities.
It is expected that a 3 percent increase of the hotel tax in Lackawanna County will raise an additional $204,800 annually.
The bill was signed into law as Act 143 of 2012.[divider top=”0″]
The Senate unanimously passed House Bill 1720, which created the Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act — setting the ground rules for determining which state would have jurisdiction over adult guardianships, conservatorships and other protective proceedings. The bill also created a system for resolving multi-state disputes.
The bill permits a court to consider which jurisdiction can best protect a person from abuse, aids communications between courts in different states about abuse allegations, and allows courts to transfer cases between states in order to remove persons from abusive situations.
This bill does not alter how Pennsylvania determines guardianships or conservatorships, but merely brings Pennsylvania in line with 29 other states that have adopted the law to streamline the transfers of guardianship from one state to another.
The bill was signed into law as Act 108 of 2012.[divider top=”0″]
The Senate unanimously passed House Bill 1893, which closes a loophole allowing unregulated gambling in Pennsylvania and prohibits the so-called “internet casino cafes.”
The law charges any individual who owns, operates, or places into operation an electronic video monitor used to conduct or promote a sweepstakes through a simulated gaming device with a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
The bill was signed into law as Act 81 of 2012.[divider top=”0″]
The Senate unanimously passed House Bill 2267, which made a number of updates to the Liquor Code.
Among other small clarifications, this bill allows the Liquor Control Board to sell wine kegs by increasing the maximum wine container size that can be sold from six liters to 60 liters. The bill also permits the board to renew licenses and approve license transfers of restaurant, eating place, hotel and distributor licenses when those licenses are located in a municipality that has merged with another municipality and the newly established municipality is dry.
The bill was signed into law as Act 116 of 2012.[divider top=”0″]
The Senate unanimously passed House Bill 2438, which merged the Department of Banking and the Pennsylvania Securities Commission to create the Department of Banking and Securities. The new Department will be led by the secretary of Banking.
Under the bill, the functions of the Securities Commission are transferred to the Department of Banking with the securities division to be overseen by a deputy secretary.
The current Securities Commission members will be retained in the merged department, with some additional members. The new five-member commission will consist of the Secretary of Banking, a governor’s designee, and three individuals appointed by the governor with the consent of the Senate
The revenue streams for operating funds for the two portions of the newly formed department will remain separate. Both agencies are self-funded through fees for licenses and examinations.
The bill was requested by the governor as part of the 2012-13 state budget and was signed into law as Act 86 of 2012.[divider top=”0″]
The Senate unanimously approved legislation that authorizes public-private partnerships as defined by federal law within Pennsylvania.
Under House Bill 3, these public-private partnerships are for transportation facilities of the Department of Transportation or of proprietary public entities.
The measure establishes the Public-Private Transportation Partnership Board to evaluate and approve or deny requests by PennDOT and proprietary public entities to enter into public-private transportation partnerships.
Upon approval of as public-private transportation partnership project, PennDOT will retain oversight and monitor the project, including periodic reports to the board.
The bill was signed into law as Act 88 of 2012.[divider top=”0″]
By a 39-10 vote, the Senate returned an amended version of Senate Bill 9 to the House. This bill would require individuals requesting public benefits in Pennsylvania to provide identification proving they are legal residents. They would also be required to sign an affidavit stating they are a U.S. citizen or an alien lawfully present in the United States.
Under the bill, any applicant signing the affidavit stating they are a legal alien would have their immigration status verified through the Federal Systematic Alien Verification of Entitlement Program operated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
This bill would not apply to services provided to women and children under the WIC program, persons under 18 years of age, a person applying for public benefits on behalf of a person under 18 years of age, anyone currently receiving Supplemental Security Income, Social Security disability income, a person enrolled in or entitled to enroll in Medicare Part A or B or both, a person whose citizenship has been verified pursuant to section 1902(EE) of the Social Security Act or a person who declares by affidavit that because of domestic violence, she does not currently possess any of the identification documents listed in the bill.
The bill is currently in the House.[divider top=”0″]
The Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 449, which requires school personnel be trained to recognize the signs of child abuse.
The bill requires schools and their independent contractors to provide training on child abuse recognition and reporting to their employees who have direct contact with children. The training will include recognition of signs of abuse and sexual misconduct; mandatory reporting requirements; individual school policies regarding reporting of suspected abuse; and guidelines for professional and appropriate relationships with students. At least three hours of training in child abuse identification will be required every five years. Continuing education credits will be awarded for programs approved by the departments of Education and Public Welfare.
The bill was signed into law as Act 126 of 2012.[divider top=”0″]
By a 42-7 vote, the Senate passed Senate Bill 637. This bill requires that contractors and subcontractors on publicly funded projects verify that their employees are legally permitted to work in Pennsylvania.
Under this bill, the verification of a person’s ability to work in Pennsylvania will be done by using the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s online E-Verify system
If a contractor or subcontractor fails to verify employment eligibility through the E-verify Program, the following sanctions will apply:
- For the first violation- the contractor or subcontractor will receive a warning letter from DGS, which is to be posted on the department’s website
- For a second violation- debarment for 30 days
- For a third and subsequent violations- debarment for at least 180 days and not more than a year
- If, upon petition of Commonwealth Court, the court finds that the contractor or subcontractor engaged in a willful violation, they will be debarred for three years
If a contractor or subcontractor fails to provide or makes a false statement on the verification form, they will be subject to a civil penalty of not less than $250 and not more than $1,000 for each violation.
The bill was signed into law as Act 127 of 2012.[divider top=”0″]
The Senate passed Senate Bill 1546 by a 48-1 vote. The measure would merge the State Tax Equalization Board Law into the Department of Community and Economic Development.
The State Tax Equalization Board Law, established in 1947, compensates for the lack of assessment uniformity statewide in distributing school subsidies. The board determines the aggregate market value of taxable real property in each municipality and school district statewide.
The measure would transfer the board, its responsibilities and costs to the department. The Senate amended the bill to remove a provision inserted by the House that would have placed a temporary moratorium on court-ordered countywide reassessments. This moratorium would have remained in effect until the General Assembly had enacted property tax reassessment reform legislation or until Dec. 31, 2013, whichever came first.
The bill was sent to the House, which further amended the bill and returned it to the Senate.[divider top=”0″]
By a vote of 46-1, the Senate passed a bill intended to clarify the definition of a “purely public charity,” and which branch of government is empowered to make the definition.
Senate Bill 161 is intended to address a recent decision by the state Supreme Court that overturned the 1997 Institutions of Purely Public Charity Act, saying that the definition of a charity, and the tax exemption that comes with the definition, is subject to legal review.
The bill would amend the state constitution to give the General Assembly the sole authority to define a charity and authorize tax exemption. It must pass in two separate sessions of the legislature before facing a voter referendum.
It now goes to the House.[divider top=”0″]
By a unanimous vote, the Senate passed legislation that would require carbon monoxide detectors in multi-family buildings where fossil fuels are burned.
Senate Bill 920 would require that detectors be installed in each apartment unit and that all homeowners disclose whether a carbon monoxide detector has been installed in a home prior to any sale.
This bill would require that the owner of each apartment in a multifamily dwelling that uses a fossil-fuel burning heater, appliance, fireplace or attached garage, have a carbon monoxide alarm installed within one year. In multi-family dwellings, alarms must be installed in the vicinity of each sleeping area and fossil-fuel burning heater in the unit. Tenants would be responsible for maintenance of the alarm. Failure to install or maintain a carbon monoxide alarm would be a summary offense and carry a fine of up to $50.
The bill now goes to the House.[divider top=”0″]
By a vote of 34-13, the Senate passed legislation that would prevent school districts and municipalities from appealing individual property assessments. Current law prevents such “spot reassessments” but taxing districts are permitted to appeal the assessments of individual properties to the county assessment appeals offices or, eventually, the county court. Local taxing districts have used the practice to challenge individual properties when a sale price reflects a much higher value than the assessed price.
Senate Bill 1309 would prohibit the practice of spot reassessment by appeal by giving the taxpayer the right to appeal such a reassessment and have the value returned to the base year value. Opponents say the measure would foster gross imbalances of property values in the absence of countywide reassessment.
The bill now goes to the House.[divider top=”0″]
By a vote of 27-12, the Senate passed legislation that opened Allegheny County for competition among transportation agencies. Prior law gave the Port Authority of Allegheny County the exclusive right to provide public transit services in the region.
House Bill 10 allows private or public transportation companies to compete with, or cooperate with, the Port Authority within its operating area. The bill was signed into law as Act 61 of 2012.[divider top=”0″]
The Senate voted unanimously to give the state Insurance Department more power to oversee, regulate and assess the “enterprise risk” within insurance holding companies.
Senate Bill 1464 enables the department to assess the enterprise risk within a holding company system and its impact upon the insurers within that group. The legislation is intended to enhance communication between regulators; facilitate supervision of multi-jurisdictional insurance groups; provide better access to collect information; and provide for better enforcement measures.
It was approved unanimously in the House and was signed into law as Act 136 of 2012.[divider top=”0″]
By a unanimous vote, the Senate passed legislation that would draw down federal money to create a health information partnership intended to make the health-care system more efficient through the electronic sharing of information.
Senate Bill 8 would establish a hybrid model to electronically share health records and other patient information by establishing a Pennsylvania Health Information Partnership Authority comprised of a 19-member board.
The authority would be required to establish an information sharing system while assuring confidentiality. The bill now goes to the House.[divider top=”0″]
By a unanimous vote, the Senate passed a measure that would extend the sunset provision of the Volunteer Fire Company and Volunteer Ambulance Service Grant Act.
The Volunteer Fire Company and Volunteer Ambulance Service Grant Act provides for grants for volunteer fire companies and ambulance services that can be used for facilities, equipment, debt reduction, and training. The $25 million per year in revenue comes from casino gaming taxes. The program is facilitated through the Office of the State Fire Commissioner under PEMA.
Senate Bill 866 would extend the program until 2016. It now goes to the House.[divider top=”0″]
The Senate unanimously approved legislation that amends the Medical Practice Act by establishing a state licensure requirement for prosthetists, orthotists, pedorthists and orthotic fitters.
Under House Bill 48, an individual must be licensed with the Board of Medicine in order to provide prosthetics, orthotics, pedorthics or orthotic fitting. The license will be valid for two years and may be renewed biennially.
The bill includes a “grandfather clause.” Within two years after the act’s effective date, an individual may be granted a license if he or she holds a valid national certification as a prosthetist, orthotist, pedorthist or orthotic fitter and has been in an active, continuous practice for the immediately preceding three years.
The bill exempts licensed physical therapists and licensed occupational therapists from the requirements of the legislation.
The bill was signed into law as Act 90 of 2012.[divider top=”0″]
The Senate unanimously approved legislation that updated Pennsylvania’s Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act.
To comply with federal requirements under the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, Act 111 of 2011 mad substantial revisions to Pennsylvania’s Megan’s law that requires the registration of sex offenders and sexually violent predators. The revisions in Act 111 included criminal penalties for failure to comply with registration requirements, registration and community notification provisions and sentencing provisions.
House Bill 75 reflects a number of clarifications and revisions to Act 111. It closes loopholes in Megan’s Law and puts Pennsylvania in compliance with the federal Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act. These changes are mostly technical.
The bill also removes the portion of Act 111 requiring those who were on a sex offender registry and served their term to go back on the sex offender registry if they committed a subsequent felony, regardless if the offense is a sex offense or not; however, if the offender commits another sex offense, the offender will go back on the registry.
The bill also clarifies when offenders convicted in other states who move to Pennsylvania are required to register in Pennsylvania and the duration of such registration.
The bill was signed into law as Act 91 of 2012.[divider top=”0″]
The Senate unanimously approved legislation that increases the maximum penalty for accidents resulting in the death of the victim.
House Bill 208 increases the mandatory minimum sentence for a “hit and run” involving a fatality from a third degree felony to a second degree felony and provides for a sentencing enhancement to give judges the ability to provide a longer prison sentence.
The bill was signed into law as Act 93 of 2012.[divider top=”0″]
By a 34-15 vote, the Senate approved legislation that provides for the use of automated red light enforcement systems in certain municipalities to enforce red light violations.
House Bill 254 changes the expiration date for the red light camera enforcement in Philadelphia through June 15, 2017 and expands the program into Pittsburgh and municipalities with populations exceeding 20,000 residents in Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties.
Implementation of automated red light enforcement systems will require the adoption of an ordinance and must have the approval of the Secretary of Transportation. Either the municipality or its designee would be the system administrator.
The bill also includes motorcycles in the current provisions of law for a junior driver. In order to qualify for a motorcycle license the individual must submit proof of completion of a PennDOT-approved motorcycle safety course.
The bill was signed into law as Act 84 of 2012.[divider top=”0″]
The Senate unanimously approved legislation that increases the numbers of members of the Pedalcycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee.
House Bill 864 increases the composition of the Pennsylvania Pedalcycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee to 17 members. It removes the nine public members representing various sector and replaces them with 11 public members, appointed by the governor, who represent various bicycling or pedestrian constituencies and have relevant expertise and extensive knowledge with bicycle and pedestrian policy, planning, design and education.
The bill was signed into law as Act 98 of 2012.[divider top=”0″]
By a 45-4 vote, the Senate approved House Bill 869, which allows for the use of purple lights on the vehicles in a funeral procession.
The bill also provides guidelines for the use of power decals on vehicles. The device can be no greater than a 5.5 inch width and 4.5 inch height and be located in rear corner or rear side corner windows only. It can only provide back lighting and cannot project a beam of light beyond the vehicle. Flashing lights are prohibited on motor vehicles.
Also under the bill, no person can drive any vehicle with any lamp or device displaying a red light visible from directly in front of the center of the vehicle.
The bill was signed into law as Act 99 of 2012.[divider top=”0″]
The Senate unanimously approved legislation that provides for disposition of cremated remains of veterans.
Under House Bill 973, a funeral director or funeral establishment that has held in its possession cremated remains for more than 120 days from the date of cremation may determine if the cremated remains are those of a veteran. If so, the funeral director or funeral establishment may relinquish possession of the cremated remains to a veterans’ service organization for final disposition in a national cemetery.
The funeral director, funeral establishment or veterans’ service organization upon disposing of cremated remains will be held harmless for any costs or damages, unless there is gross negligence or willful misconduct, and will be discharged from any legal obligation or liability concerning the cremated remains.
Also under the bill, certificates of death or fetal death must be filed in four business days. The bill allows local registrars to issue certified copies of the original certificate of death for 90 days after the original certificate has been issued.
The bill was signed into law as Act 101 of 2012.[divider top=”0″]
The Senate unanimously approved legislation that allows retired or senior judges to administer oaths and affirmations and take acknowledgments.
House Bill 1026 adds retired and senior judges to those individuals who are permitted to administer oaths and affirmations and take acknowledgments, as long as they are Pennsylvania residents; have served as a magisterial district judge, judge or justice, whether or not continuously or on the same court, by election or appointment for an aggregate period equaling one full term of office; have not been defeated for reelection or retention; have not been convicted of or pleaded no contest to any misdemeanor or felony offense; have not resigned a judicial commission to avoid having charges filed or to avoid prosecution by federal, state or local law enforcement agencies or by the Judicial Conduct Board; and have not been removed from office by the Court of Judicial Discipline.
The bill was signed into law as Act 79 of 2012.[divider top=”0″]
The Senate unanimously approved House Bill 1269, which provides for the following new special registration plates:
- Silver Star for a one time initial fee of $10
- Bronze Star for a one time initial fee of $20
- Bronze Star for Valor for a one time initial fee of $10
- Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Flying Cross, Navy Cross or Air Force
- Cross for a one time initial fee of $10
The individuals obtaining these plates will still pay their annual registration fee. The plates will be allowed to be placed on vehicles with a registered gross weight of not more than 14,000 pounds.
The bill was signed into law as Act 103 of 2012.[divider top=”0″]
The Senate unanimously approved House Bill 1525, which removes the requirement to have a CPR-trained staffer present for health clubs that offer health club services during non-staffed hours.
The portion of the health club in which members are permitted access during non-staffed hours must not be more than 6,000 square feet; must be readily accessible to emergency services responders from outside the health club; and must be equipped an automated external defibrillator, appropriate signage, panic button, a 911 telephone and no less than four personal security devices.
Also, the health club must provide instructions regarding the use of the health club during non-staffed hours, including the location and use of the emergency equipment, to all new customers of the health club.
Also, all contracts for a new or renewal membership to the health club must contain a waiver that explains that the health club may have hours that it is not staffed and that it is required to have certain safety equipment. The member must sign the waiver.
The bill was signed into law as Act 106 of 2012.[divider top=”0″]
The Senate unanimously approved legislation that created the Towing and Towing Storage Facility Standards Act.
House Bill 1908 establishes standards for tow truck operators and, where applicable, towing storage facilities. It requires tow truck operators to maintain a physical street address; properly register the tow truck with the Department of Transportation; display the name, address and telephone number of its tow truck business on the tow truck; and post the towing fees, the storage fees and related service fees, as well as hours of operation at the towing facility.
At the scene of an accident, the bill requires that a tow truck operator provide the owner or operator of the vehicle — if the owner or operator is at the scene — with a notice containing the name, address and telephone number or point of contact to be informed where the vehicle is stored.
Also, a tow truck operator can undertake a towing at an accident scene only if summoned to the scene by the vehicle owner or operator, or law enforcement personnel or authorized municipal personnel.
The owner of the vehicle being towed has the right to designate the tow truck operator (in consultation with law enforcement or authorized municipal personnel) and the location where the vehicle is going to be towed to.
The bill was signed into law as Act 110 of 2012.[divider top=”0″]
The Senate unanimously approved legislation that fines motorists who ignore temporary emergency barricades.
Under House Bill 2199, a driver is prohibited from driving past, around or through a sign or traffic-control device used to close a road or highway due to an existing or potentially hazardous condition.
Any driver who commits a violation will be subject to a fine of up to $500 and assessed two points on his/her driver’s license.
The bill was signed into law as Act 114 of 2012.[divider top=”0″]
By a 46-3 vote, the Senate approved legislation that addresses the need for wheelchair accessible taxicabs in Philadelphia.
House Bill 2390 addresses this need through a measured increase to the maximum number of taxicab medallions available for issuance from 1,600 to 1,750 over the next 10 years.
The term “wheelchair accessible taxicab” specifies that a wheelchair-accessible taxi can accommodate at least one person in a wheelchair without the person having to transfer from the wheelchair to a vehicle seat.
The bill also establishes a wheelchair-accessible taxicab driver training program for Philadelphia.
Also under the bill, partial-rights taxicabs must display the rates charged to customers, just as medallion taxicabs are required to do.
The bill was signed into law as Act 119 of 2012.[divider top=”0″]
The Senate unanimously approved legislation that made a number of modifications to the Judicial Code and Prisons and Parole Code.
Senate Bill 100 expands the definition of “crime of violence” to include manslaughter of a law enforcement officer, serious assault of a law enforcement officer, use of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, trafficking of persons and eco-terrorism.
The bill also makes it a second-degree felony for an offender to enter a building, regardless of whether it is adapted for overnight accommodations or not, and regardless of whether a person is present or not at the time of the offense.
The bill also requires the Sentencing Commission to use a risk assessment instrument in monitoring the effectiveness of sentencing guidelines.
The bill also makes more nonviolent offenders eligible for Pennsylvania’s alternative sentencing programs, including county intermediate punishment, state intermediate punishment, state motivational boot camp, and the recidivism risk reduction incentive.
The bill establishes a county probation program providing for swift, predictable and immediate sanctions on offenders who violate their probation.
The bill also establishes the Safe Community Reentry Program and requires the Department of Corrections to establish a comprehensive program to reduce recidivism and ensure the successful reentry and reintegration of offenders into the community.
The bill was signed into law as Act 122 of 2012.[divider top=”0″]
The Senate unanimously approved legislation that further provides for Good Samaritan civil immunity for use of automated external defibrillator (AED) and for nonmedical Good Samaritan civil immunity.
Senate Bill 351 provides civil immunity to people who, in good faith, use an AED or other forms of first aid to aid victims during an emergency. Immunity would also be extended to the business or other organization that houses and maintains an AED on its premises.
The bill was signed into law as Act 125 of 2012.[divider top=”0″]