Senate Bill 5 was unanimously approved by the Senate.  The bill would establish the Community-Based Health Care (CHC) Program in the Department of Health to provide grants to community-based health care clinics.

Grants would be distributed in a manner that improves access and expands services in all geographic areas in the state.  No more than 25 percent of the grants awarded would go to federally qualified health centers. No grants would exceed $500,000 of the total amount of funds available and a matching commitment of 25 percent of the grant would be required.

In order to qualify for funding, a hospital health clinic would submit the required application to the Department of Public Welfare no later than 90 days after the effective date.  For each fiscal year the Department of Public Welfare would annually distribute any available funds for hospital clinics.  The Secretary of Public Welfare would determine the funds available and make appropriate adjustments based on the number of qualifying hospitals with clinics.

The measure now goes to the House.

The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 87, which would allow community colleges, state-related or state-owned universities to charge residential tuition rates to any active military personnel, their spouse or dependents who are taking online courses.

Current law does not allow these institutions to offer the in-state tuition rate to servicemen and women unless they are state residents.

The bill is now in the House.

The Senate voted unanimously in favor of Senate Bill 109, which would require public notification when Commonwealth agencies pay for advertising.

Under this bill, state agencies would have to disclose that advertisements are paid for with public funds.  All advertising done by the agencies must clearly include the phrase “Paid for with Pennsylvania taxpayer dollars.”

This legislation would apply to the following:

  • The General Assembly
  • All Pennsylvania courts
  • The governor and lieutenant governor
  • State row offices
  • All executive branch offices, boards and commissions

The bill will now go to the House.

The Senate unanimously approved legislation that would protect the status of active-duty military personnel in college.

Senate Bill 825 would give members of the National Guard returning from active duty a choice to continue their higher education degree under the requirements in place prior to the their military leave, or under the new degree requirements, if their graduation requirements changed while they were deployed.

The bill is now in the House.

The Senate voted unanimously in favor of Senate Bill 990, which would change the requirements for clinical social work licenses, marriage and family therapist licenses, and professional counselor licenses.

Currently, applicants for all three types of licenses are required to complete a specified number of years or hours of supervised clinical experience.  Due to the fact that existing regulation already addresses the number of hours needed each year, Senate Bill 990 removes the provisions of the law pertaining to the number of years required for each type of license.

The bill also calls for a change in the date by which applicants for a marriage and family therapist license or professional counselor license must have successfully completed the required coursework in order to be grandfathered under the current regulations.  Currently this date is March 2, 2007.  Senate Bill 990 would extend that date to on or before June 30, 2008.

The bill will now go to the House.

The Senate unanimously passed a package of bills that were recommended by the Local Government Commission.

Senate Bills 1019, 1020, 1021, and 1022 would repeal provisions in these statutes relating to the removal of an elected official for failure to perform duties.

Senate Bill 1019, 1021, and 1022 repeal language regarding the removal of elected officials in First Class Townships, Second Class Townships, and the Borough Code, respectively.  Senate Bill 1020 repeals this language regarding incorporated towns.

These provisions were found to be unconstitutional by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court since the process to remove an elected official is already established by the Pennsylvania Constitution.

The bills are now in the House.

The Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 1200, which would require Pennsylvania to participate in The Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact.

The pact is a multi-state agreement that recognizes suspension of hunting, fishing, and trapping licenses in member states.  Under the legislation, a person whose license privileges or rights are suspended in Pennsylvania or a member state may also be suspended in other member states.

Also, if a non-resident from a member state violates a wildlife law, the violator would be handled as if he or she were a resident, which would mean they can be served a ticket rather than being arrested, booked, and bonded.

Pennsylvania would join 33 other states who are members of the compact.

The bill now moves to the House for consideration.

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