The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 620, which would provide additional protections for third parties who act in good faith in power of attorney matters. The bill also provides additional protections for principals who name an agent to handle their affairs.

The bill stems from a Supreme Court ruling that held a retirement system liable for relying on a power of attorney agreement that empowered a disabled woman’s spouse to make her retirement decisions. The court ruled that the woman lacked the capacity to enter into the power of attorney agreement at the time it was executed. Ultimately, the decision removed the immunity that third parties have relied on for decades when acting in good faith on seemingly valid powers of attorney.

The measure provides greater protections to third parties that act in good faith. The bill also clarifies that a principal’s agent must act in accordance with the principal’s reasonable expectations to the extent actually known and, otherwise, in the principal’s best interest. In addition, the bill limits the agent’s actions to the scope of authority granted in the power of attorney.

The legislation also incorporates changes to the process of executing powers of attorney, changes to notice provided to principals executing powers of attorney and changes to acknowledgments that must be completed by named agents related specifically to good-faith actions. The bill also establishes duties of agents, and processes for disbursements and gifts.

The bill now goes to the House.


* * *



The Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 623, which would enable the Game Commission to establish an adult mentored hunting program.

The bill was designed to encourage more people to try hunting. From 2006 to 2011, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report revealed that the number of licensed hunters in Pennsylvania dropped from 945,892 to 933,208.

The bill would allow the commission to waive the license cost for someone interested in the sport to accompany a licensed hunter on an outing. The program would likely be structured similar to the state’s successful mentored youth hunting program.

The legislation now goes to the House for consideration.


* * *

The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 644, which would change the definition of “wild animals” to exclude any species or variation of swine, pig or boar held in captivity.

Under the bill, the Pennsylvania Game Commission would no longer be required to regulate and control such animals.

The bill now goes to the House.


* * *

The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 193, which would amend the Public School Code to require that school nurses be CPR certified.


If an already employed school nurse is not certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation by July 1, 2013, they would be required to complete training within a year. If a school nurse is hired after July 1, 2013 and is not CPR certified, they would have one year to become certified. Certification must come from a Department of Health-approved agency.

The bill was referred to the House Education Committee.


* * *


The Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 5, which would establish the Community-Based Health Care (CHC) program in the Department of Health to provide grants to community-based health care clinics.

These grants would be used to:

  • expand and improve health care access and services;
  • reduce unnecessary use of hospital emergency services by providing an effective alternative health care system; and
  • encourage collaborative relationships among community-based health care clinics, hospitals and other health care providers.

The measure is now in the House.


* * *

In a 30-20 vote, the Senate approved Senate Bill 4, which would enable legislators to re-establish criteria that define the state’s public charities.

The measure would amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to clarify that the state legislature has the exclusive ability to determine what constitutes a purely public charity within the state, thereby limiting the ability of local governments to challenge real estate tax exemptions for charitable organizations.

The bill was in response to a 2012 Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision that outlined narrower new criteria that charities have to meet to qualify for tax exempt status. In that case, the court denied real estate tax exemption to an organization, even though it met all of the criteria outlined in the 1997 law.

On the heels of the court ruling, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl announced that the city’s law department would challenge the tax-exempt status of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, arguing that the huge health care organization does not qualify as a charity.

Claiming that many of these larger organizations are charities in name only — and that average homeowners have to pay more in real estate taxes to accommodate these tax exemptions, many Democrats opposed the bill.

Because Senate Bill 4 would require amending the constitution, the measure must receive approval by the General Assembly in two consecutive legislative sessions followed by the voters’ approval in a public referendum.

The bill now goes to the House.


* * *

In a continued attempt to consolidate statutes into comprehensive, organized codes of law, the Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 99, which would organize various statutes regarding administration of documents under Title 2 (Administrative Law and Procedure). The consolidated statutes and those already contained in Title 2 are not affected. Pennsylvania remains the only state to have not completely consolidated its statutes.

The bill now goes to the House.


# # #