The Senate unanimously passed House Bill 168, which outlaws misrepresenting one’s military service or honors to benefit themselves.
This bill makes it a third-degree misdemeanor to falsely present oneself as a member of the military, veteran or recipient of any military-related award authorized by Congress to obtain money, property or other benefits.
The bill became enacted as Act 9 of 2017.
The Senate unanimously passed House Bill 217 which makes it a first-degree misdemeanor to endanger the welfare of children.
Tougher penalties apply if:
- the conduct also is part of a pattern of harassment (third-degree felony);
- the conduct creates a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury to the child (third-degree felony); and
- the conduct is both part of a pattern of harassment and creates a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury (second-degree felony).
The offense increases one grade if the child is under six-years-old. This legislation also deems that courts should consider ordering counseling for persons convicted of offenses under this section.
The bill was enacted as Act 12 of 2017.
The Senate unanimously passed House Bill 1238, which revamps provisions on animal cruelty concerning neglect, cruelty and aggravated cruelty.
This bill creates additional outlines for tethering an unattended dog. Dogs should not be tethered outdoors for nine hours or more within a 24-hour period. Dogs should be tethered under proper conditions, such as having access to water and shade and cannot be tethered longer than 30 minutes in temperatures above 90 degrees.
This legislation also protects from civil liability veterinarians who report suspected animal cruelty.
This bill became enacted as Act 10 of 2017
Senate Bill 144 amends the Pennsylvania Sewage Facilities Act to require proposals for new land development to have a plan approved for an on-lot sewage system by a sewage enforcement officer.
This legislation also charges the Department of Environmental Resources, in consultation with the Sewage Advisory Committee, to develop standards for all alternate on-lot systems.
The bill was enacted as Act 26 of 2017.
The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 178, which would revise the rules under which the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) can sell or dispose of property on loan.
Under the bill, the following guidelines would apply:
- The property is on loan for at least 21 years and no one has made a claim. The property would be considered abandoned if the commission made efforts to locate the lender.
- If no claim has been made to the property within 60 days after the date of the last notice provided by the commission, the PHMC may authorize sale by the Department of General Services.
The PHMC would be required to maintain and preserve commonwealth records, local government records, and ensure access to older public records.
Sale or transfer of state archival material would be prohibited unless authorized by law. Violations may be subject to a penalty of up to $2,500. The PHMC may demand the return of any record removed without authorization. If not returned, the commission could petition courts for seizure of the records.
Items that have been in the State Archives for more than 75 years would no longer be exempt from public disclosure.
Senate Bill 178 now goes to the House State Government Committee.
The Senate voted 46-3 in favor of Senate Bill 180, which would update the law governing anatomical gifts.
This legislation would expand the list of individuals who may execute an anatomical gift — this list takes effect in time-sensitive situations where certain individuals are not available. The bill states the circumstances in which anatomical donations can be made and for what reason.
The bill would clarify that the donor of an anatomical gift is not liable for any damage or injury resulting from the gift. PennDOT would be required to store all donor designations in the Donate Life PA Registry. PennDOT would need to determine the process by which coroners and medical examiners are contacted before organ procurement and clarifies their responsibilities and authority;
Anatomical gifts may be made for research or education at a hospital, medical school or organ procurement organization. The bill clarifies procedures governing when anatomical gifts can be used for educational purposes or when they can be given to an individual in need of the organ or tissue.
The bill now goes to the House Judiciary Committee.
The Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 242 which moves oversight responsibilities of the One Call System from the Department of Labor and Industry to the state Public Utility Commission (PUC) and places additional responsibilities on facility owners, designers and excavators.
The One Call System is the state’s communication system for excavators and designers to call facility owners to let them know about planned excavations. The One Call System may not require its members to locate lines or facilities installed before this bill, unless they have existing maps that meet requirements of the One Call System’s member mapping solutions.
This legislation assigns the following duties to facility owners:
- Members may voluntarily submit to maps of lines or facilities installed before this law;
- Facility owners must communicate to the excavator within two hours with information about its facility location when the owner has failed to respond to notification from the One Call System; and
- Maintain records of abandoned main line locations and report all alleged violations to the PUC if the cost of repair is over $2,500. In addition, owners will be responsible for maintaining underground line mapping information.
This legislation places the following additional responsibilities on the One Call System:
- Requires a report of alleged violations, including photographs;
- Removes excavation work exclusions for extracting resources;
- Requires the lawful start date to be three business days through 10 business days following notification to the One Call System;
- Notifies a facility owner as soon as possible if an excavator has identified, unmasked or incorrectly marked a facility and of the owner’s responsibilities under the law; and
- Requires that an entity that requests information from the One Call System must pay an annual fee to the system.
This legislation assigns the following duties to excavators:
- Report any incident in which a facility owner’s line is damaged during excavation or any other violation within 10 days;
- Request facility information for the One Call System and pay the applicable fee;
- Renotify the One Call System of any unmarked or incorrectly marked facility. Excavation may not begin until sufficient information has been received to safely excavate. If the owner fails to provide information within three hours after notification of the One Call System, the Excavator may proceed subject to legal limitations;
- Make locale request to the One Call System prior to the excavation and pay the applicable fee.
The PUC would be required to establish a Damage Prevention Committee. The committee will advise the PUC on matters related to damage prevention for underground facilities.
The bill was enacted as Act No. 50 of 2017.
The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 446, which would amend the Administrative Code regulating licensure of Drug and Alcohol programs.
This bill outlines that the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) would license drug and alcohol recovery houses. Only licensed recovery houses may be eligible to receive federal of state funding.
DDAP would be authorized to promote regulations to ensure that Drug and Alcohol recovery houses provide a safe environment for residents. A drug or alcohol recovery house may be considered licensed if documentation proving compliance is provided within 180 days.
DDAP would be required to collect a fee from houses to carry out its legal responsibilities. Houses must obtain a two-year license to provide services. Failure to maintain licensure would result in a fine of $1,000 per violation.
Senate Bill 446 now goes to the House Human Services Committee.
The Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 553 which amends the Vehicles Code to add protections to current laws regarding the suspension of licenses.
The bill increases license suspension penalties and violators are subject to mandatory suspension of driving privileges under the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition. This legislation also permits PennDOT to destroy surrendered licenses. Once the person has driving privileges again, the person may apply for a replacement license.
Any police officer, or designated state employee can confiscate a suspended license. The license should be returned to the department, unless it is needed to keep the license as evidence of an offense.
A person whose driving privileges have been suspended must pay a $500 restoration fee. If the department has previously suspended the person’s driving privileges on two or more occasions, the restoration fee is $2,000.
Senate Bill 553 became enacted as Act No. 30 of 2017.
The Senate passed Senate Bill 592 by a vote of 36-14 on a largely party line vote. This bill would require school boards to post job openings of some positions on their website including: superintendent, assistant superintendent, associate superintendent and principal.
This legislation would require intermediate unit boards to post the following job openings: executive director, assistant and executive director.
The posting would be required to include the details of the offer and proposed contract, including salary and the term of the contract.
Proponents of this legislation claim it would lead to transparency and accountability for local school boards. Opponents argue that it violates the rights and sovereignty of the local school boards.
The bill was referred to the House Education Committee.
The Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 639, which would amend the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority Act by adding a section to allow government entities to use financial to renovate private lateral sewer lines connected to public sewer systems.
This bill would allow government entities to use financial assistance received under this law to renovate private lateral water lines connected to public water systems.
The legislation also clarifies that government entities that take part are not be considered owners of the private lines, nor will they have any further responsibility for them.
Senate Bill 639 was referred to the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee.
The Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 656, which would allow municipalities to use public funds to perform maintenance on private water laterals and private sewer laterals if it determines that such maintenance will benefit public health.
Municipalities that utilize this provision would not be considered owners of the private lines because of this action, nor will they have any further responsibility for the lines unless it decides to accept those responsibilities.
Municipalities would also be authorized to use funds for maintenance of water or sanitary sewer pump stations, public water distribution systems, public sewer systems and construction services.
Senate Bill 656 was referred to the House Local Government Committee.
The Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 741 which would amend sunset dates and court fees for Senior Judge Operational support grants.
This legislation would extend the sunset date from June 30, 2017 to June 30, 2022 for Senior Judge Operational support grants. The bill extends the sunset provision from December 31, 2017 to December 31, 2022 for the Judicial Computer System Augmentation Account.
The bill would eliminate the sunset provision (currently November 1, 2017) for the Access to Justice funding. The bill would also add two dollars ($10 to $12) for surcharges imposed on court filings and adds two dollars to the fee deposited into the Access to Justice Account ($2 to $4).
Senate Bill 741 was referred to the House Judiciary Committee.