The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 24, which would amend Title 23 update clearance procedures for prospective employees and establish the Statewide Database of Protective Services to manage information about suspected child abuse.

The bill would require reports of suspected child abuse to be submitted electronically or by phone to the Department of Public Welfare. The information in the database would only be used for investigations or background checks such as those for employees.

The legislation would not have a significant fiscal impact, but it would require a modification of the existing statewide child abuse register computer system.

The bill now goes to the House for approval.


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The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 28, which would strengthen the state’s child abuse laws by amending Title 18.

The bill would lower the age of a perpetrator for simple assault from 21 to 18, broaden the definition of aggravated assault, make a stricter requirements to report child endangerment and create a new offense if a person tries to interfere in a child abuse case. The changes would increase penalties for child abuse and make it more difficult to obstruct justice in a child abuse case.

The bill now goes to the House for approval.


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The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 29, which would increase monitoring of newborns suffering from prenatal exposure to illegal substances.

The bill would require health care providers to report signs of a mother’s illegal substance abuse, withdrawal symptoms resulting from prenatal exposure and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder to the County Children and Youth Agency. The agency would then perform a risk assessment to determine whether a newborn needs child protective services.

The bill now goes to the House for approval.


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The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 31, which would toughen child abuse reporting requirements in schools.

The Democratic-sponsored bill would do away with the separate reporting requirement for schools and mandate that suspected child abuse be reported within 24 hours to the proper authorities for investigation. The measure would also remove the different reporting requirement for school employees and put them on the same level as other mandated reporters. The bill would require that an incident be reported directly to Childline or the police. It covers all students, from kindergarten through college.

The legislation is one of the endorsed bills in the bipartisan, bicameral Legislative Task Force on Child Protection report issued earlier this year.

Senate Bill 31 now goes to the House.


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The Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 1116, the latest in a series of bills recommended by the Pennsylvania Child Protection Task Force in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child-abuse scandal. The bill clarifies the purpose of investigative teams at the county level as well as how counties should handle investigations of suspected child abuse.

The bill would also reorganize the current section in the Child Protective Services Law relating to a county’s investigation of suspected child abuse. The bill proposes changes to those duties, such as clarifying the criteria for needed medical care, and notice to the Pennsylvania Department of Welfare when a county is investigating.

The measure now goes to the House.


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            The Senate voted 49-0 in favor of House Bill 493, which would reduce the amount of debt the state can have from $4.05 billion to $3.45 billion.

The bill also makes several changes to the RACP program and the capitol project itemization process. The bill was amended to clarify the definition of “capital project,” and to add a new definition of “community asset project.”

The amended bill goes back to the House to be reconsidered.


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The Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 1024 today, which would provide for stricter penalties against arsonists and create the new offense of “aggravated arson.”

Under the bill, aggravated arson would be a first degree felony if the intent was to cause bodily harm to someone; and a second degree felony if the intent was not to cause bodily harm, but someone died. It would also allow arsonists who kill people to be charged with murder.

The bill would also create a sentencing enhancement for arsonists if the fire causes serious bodily harm to first responders or civilians if more than three people were in the property when the fire was started, or if there is more than $1 million in property damage.

The bill now goes to the House for consideration.


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The Senate voted 44-6 in favor of House Bill 79, which would increase the mandatory minimum retirement age for judges from 70 to 75 years old.

The bill would change Pennsylvania’s constitution so it must be adopted again by the legislature by a two-thirds majority vote and then by the electorate. This is the first time the House and Senate have approved the bill.


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            The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 391, which would allow expungement of conviction data for a range of lesser crimes.

Under the bill, a person could ask the court to expunge his conviction record for a third degree misdemeanor or an offense that carries a maximum sentence of up to a year in prison if the person has been free of arrest or prosecution for seven years.

The measure also would allow expungement of a second degree misdemeanor if the person committed the crime when they were less than 25-years-old, or served less than two years in jail and are free of prosecution for at least 10 years.

Simple assault classified as a third degree misdemeanor would also qualify for expungement.

The legislation does include numerous exceptions that would disqualify certain crimes from expungement ranging from intimidating a witness to violating the state’s firearms act.

The bill now goes to the House.



The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 1042 to hold out-of-state laboratories to the same standard and requirements as in-state labs.

Current state law prevents the placement of paid or unpaid staff from one provider’s office in another provider’s office, but a loophole in the Clinical Laboratories Act of 1951 has meant that out-of-state federally licensed labs can place phlebotomists or specimen collectors in physicians’ and other health care provider offices more cheaply and without fear of sanction.

The bill is now before the House Committee on Health for consideration.


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The Senate unanimously passed House Bill 1481, which would update Pennsylvania’s insurance law to comply with recommendations developed by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners in their Financial Regulation Standards and Accreditation Program.

The bill would require insurers to maintain a risk management framework and complete a Risk Management and Own Risk Solvency Assessment (ORSA). It would also set forth requirements for filing an ORSA summary report, and provides for confidentiality.

The purpose of an ORSA is to ensure the company has developed a risk management policy that clearly identifies material risks and the amount of material risks the company is exposed to. The ORSA is essentially an internal assessment of the risks associated with an insurer’s current business plan, and the sufficiency of capital resources to support those risks.

The Senate passed the bill with minor amendments about electronic reporting and it now goes back to the House for concurrence.


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