The Senate voted 34-16 in favor of Senate Bill 5, which would prevent local ordinances from superseding state law on firearms and ammunition. An individual would be authorized to file a lawsuit against a municipality that enacted firearm ordnances that are more restrictive than state law.

Act 192 of 2014 contained similar preemption measures, however, the law was declared unconstitutional due to the “single subject” rule placed on legislation and eventually repealed in court.

Proponents of this bill have argued that local ordinances on firearms and ammunitions are against the municipalities section (Title 53). To prevent further violation of Title 53, proponents argue that municipalities should not be able to place their own ordinances on firearms and ammunition.

Opponents proposed several amendments to this bill. One amendment would have allowed municipalities to create regulations that applied to municipal property. Another amendment would have restricted who could file suit against a municipality. Residences would have been required to have lived in the municipality for at least a year to be considered as a “person adversely affected.” This would have prevented out of state residents from coming into Pennsylvania and filing suits against the municipalities. However, the amendments failed.

The bill now goes to the House Judiciary Committee.



The Senate voted 39-10 in favor of Senate Bill 8, which amends property forfeiture law to add in provisions for forfeiture procedures on the confiscation of items associated with terrorism.

This bill amends Title 18 concerning acts of foreign and domestic terrorism.  Property used by an entity to plan or perpetrate an act of terrorism would be subject to forfeiture.  If the property is in violation of the Controlled Substance Act and related to a terroristic act, the property may be immediately seized by law enforcement and no longer subject to property rights.  The bill also provides an increased burden of proof on the state to legally take the property.  In addition, this measure provides for circumstances where property is returned to its original owner.

The bill was enacted as Act 13 of 2017.



The Senate voted 39-10 in favor of Senate Bill 25, which would amend The Professional Nursing Law to provide for the certification and licensure of nurse practitioners.

This legislation amends the definition of a certified nurse practitioner and provides for temporary practice permits.  The bill clarifies that the title of “advanced practice registered nurse-certified nurse practitioner” is reserved for individuals authorized to practice independently in a clinical specialty area.  This legislation would remove the requirement that nurse practitioners authorized to practice a clinical specialty not be required to collaborate with a doctor of medicine or an osteopathic doctor.

Under the bill, a certified nurse practitioner would need to meet the following requirements to become certified: hold a current license in Pennsylvania as a registered nurse, graduate from an accredited board-approved masters or post-masters nurse practitioner program and pass a national certification program exam in a clinical specialty.

The legislation also provides for duties and responsibilities, including scope of practice, for certified nurse practitioners and their authority to prescribe certain drugs.  This bill would also recognize certified nurse practitioners as a primary care provider under managed care and other health care plans.

The bill now goes to the House Professional Licensure Committee.




The Senate voted 43-7 in favor of Senate Bill 95, which would to provide immunity for constitutionally protected communications.

The bill seeks to curb Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP).  Under the bill, no civil actions, regarding protected communications, can be taken against any individual involved in protected communications. This legislation would allow courts to swiftly dismiss cases if it is found that they are stemming from constitutionally protected communications. If the individual or organization defending the civil case prevails and the case is dismissed, the defendant would be entitled to repayment for all damages and costs associated with the case.

Last session, similar legislation was passed by the Senate. Supporters claimed there has been an increase in court cases regarding companies and individuals giving their opinions to support a public interest or regulation. In several instances, businesses file suit against these people as a means to “to deter or silence critics” from expressing their view. For example, a person providing an on-line opinion about a business, service or product is often subject to these kinds of suits.

The bill now goes to the House Judiciary Committee.



The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 260, which would change the structure and membership of the Victims’ Services Advisory Committee by adding more members.

This bill amends the Crime and Victim Act by adjusting the membership of the Victims’ Services Advisory Committee.

The bill would change one member from the Secretary of Public Welfare or a designee to Secretary of Human Services or a designee; adds two residents of the commonwealth appointed by the chairman of the commission; and changes nine members appointed by the governor to 17 members appointed by the governor.

This bill would also adjust the term limits for the Pennsylvania Court Appointed Special Advocates Association representative and the appointed county children and youth agency representative. These members may not serve more than a four-year term and may not be appointed for more than one additional consecutive term.

The bill now goes to the House Judiciary Committee.



The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 399, which would amend the Second Class Township Code to prevent township supervisors from holding any other elected positions in the township office and to clarify what positions a township supervisor may hold, including appointed positions.

The current law prohibits a township supervisor to hold any other elective or appointed position. This bill would allow the township supervisors to hold appointed positions if they are not in violation of this bill or any other statute.

The bill now goes to the House Local Government Committee.



The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 554, which would provide help for victims of human trafficking.

This legislation would move victims of human trafficking under the age of 18 away from the judicial system to an appropriate specialized human service to assist in their recovery.  This change aims to keep these children out of the criminal justice system – and get them help through human service agencies.

The changes would require the Department of Human Services to develop a plan to coordinate specialized human services to help sexually exploited victims.  Services would need to include housing, education, life-skills, counseling to the victims, dental and medical care and treatment for addiction.

The bill would also require police officers to be trained to identify and assist sexually exploited children.  This legislation would also establish the “Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund” to manage the costs of enacting these changes.  Fines would be imposed on offenders convicted of human trafficking and then deposited into the Safe Harbor Fund.

The bill now goes to the House Judiciary Committee.