Week of March 25, 2019
In this Update:
Mensch’s First-time Homebuyers Savings Accounts Bill Approved by Committee
The Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee on Wednesday approved legislation I’m sponsoring to create First-time Homebuyers Savings Accounts in Pennsylvania.
A version of Senate Bill 309 that I introduced in the prior legislative session was passed by the Senate but not taken up in the House of Representatives.
Since the 2009 financial crisis, the share of first-time homebuyers nationally has fallen from 45 percent to just 32 percent. In response, several states have passed legislation to allow first-time homebuyers to deposit money into a savings account, where it goes for the exclusive purpose of purchasing a first home, and the money can be deducted from their state income tax.
It is estimated that this type of savings account program in Pennsylvania could result in an annual increase of up to 4,000 home purchases within the state. The result would be an overall positive impact on Pennsylvania’s economy, spurring additional economic activity, job creation and earnings for households. It’s estimated that the economic impact could range between $7.8 million to $68.8 million.
Home ownership strengthens communities and provides stability for families. A first-time homebuyers saving account will be an important tool in helping people overcome the financial obstacles to home ownership.
Mensch Resolution Commemorates Centennial Anniversary of the Historic “March First Movement” and “First Korean Congress”
On Wednesday, the Senate unanimously adopted my resolution sponsored commemorating the centennial anniversary of the historic “March First Movement” and “First Korean Congress.”
In addition, I had the honor or introducing South Korean Ambassador Hyo-Sung Park and esteemed guests to the Senate.
On March 1, 1919, 33 activists signed the Korean Declaration of Independence from Imperial Japan in the Korean capital city of Seoul and organized a public reading of the declaration.
The reading ignited non-violent protests throughout the country. By the time the movement was suppressed by the Japanese 12 months later, approximately 2 million Koreans had participated in more than 1,500 demonstrations. The struggle left 7,000 people dead and 16,000 wounded. The massive public resistance came to be called the March First Movement.
Although the March First Movement did not result in the immediate liberation of Korea, it became the catalyst for the Korean independence movement, as Koreans living abroad joined the efforts, especially Koreans in the U.S.
Philip Jaisohn, a Korean political refugee who made his home in Media, Delaware County, made Philadelphia a central overseas base for supporting Korean independence. Inspired by the First and Second Continental Congress of the United States, he and Syngman Rhee, who became the first Korean President of the Republic of Korea, and Han Kyong Chung organized The First Korean Congress, which was also held in Philadelphia.
This delegation of 150 Korean representatives and Americans participated in the First Korean Congress, and on the last day, they marched in solidarity from the Little Theatre to Independence Hall, where the Korean Declaration of Independence was once again proclaimed to the world.
In addition to Ambassador Park, I also introduced Grand Master Bong Pil Yang, a devoted community volunteer and a dedicated spokesperson for the Korean Americans.
Also joining Ambassador Park in the Senate chamber was Sung Sung Sik Jeon, Consul Consulate General of the Republic of Korea’s New York Office, and Sung Woon Kim, Vice President of the Montgomery County Korean American Seniors Association.
Senate Approves Bill to Prevent Child Heatstroke Deaths in Vehicles
Legislation I’m co-sponsoring that provides immunity to individuals who rescue children left unattended in hot cars was approved by the Senate on Monday.
Senate Bill 49 extends “Good Samaritan” civil liability to a person who — in an effort to save a child — breaks a window or forcibly enters a parked, locked vehicle. The bill is named in memory of the 49 children who died last year from vehicular heatstroke.
The law would bring Pennsylvania in line with 20 other states that give immunity to bystanders who help children locked in hot vehicles. The measure now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Bill to Expand CPR Training in Schools Approved by Senate
On Wednesday, the Senate passed legislation I’m co-sponsoring to save lives through greater education and training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
Senate Bill 115 would strengthen academic guidelines in schools for CPR training in grades nine through 12, while adding hands-only CPR instruction to Pennsylvania’s education curriculum.
More than 350,000 cardiac arrests occur outside of hospitals each year, and there is a less than 10 percent survival rate for sudden cardiac arrest. If enacted, Pennsylvania would become the 39th state with such CPR legislation. The measure now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Other Bills Approved by the Senate and sent to House
House Bill 18 authorizes the release of Project 70 restrictions on lands owned by the Borough of Topton, Berks County, in exchange for the imposition of the restrictions on other lands to be acquired by the borough. The bill also provides for land conveyances in Chester, Lehigh and Monroe counties. The bill returns to the House of Representatives for concurrence on Senate amendments.
Senate Bill 86 amends the Newborn Protection Act to add urgent care centers to the list of “safe havens” where a parent may surrender a newborn.
Senate Bill 127 reauthorizes Pennsylvania’s 911 Law, which is set to expire on June 30, 2019.
Senate Bill 298 transfers “Stolen Valor” fines to the Pennsylvania Veterans’ Trust Fund.
Mensch, Panel Discuss PA Fish & Boat Commission Performance Audit, Impact of Tavern Gaming on Lottery
On Wednesday, I chaired a meeting of the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to discuss and release two reports:
You can view the meeting and read the reports here.
Senate Bill 115 integrates CPR instruction into existing curriculum for grades 9-12.
Senate Bill 127 reauthorizes Pennsylvania’s 911 Law.
Senate Bill 298 transfers “Stolen Valor” fines to the Pennsylvania Veterans’ Trust Fund.
Senate Bill 372 updates the state History Code.
Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure
Senate Bill 25 modernizes the Professional Nursing Law for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses.
Senate Bill 112 limits prescriptions for a controlled substance containing an opioid to seven days unless there is a medical emergency that puts the patients’ health or safety at risk.
Senate Bill 217 removes Philadelphia’s exemption from the Assessors Certification Act of 1992.
Senate Bill 83 exempts volunteer fire companies from paying sales tax on food and beverages sold for fundraising efforts.
Senate Bill 471 establishes a sales and use tax exemption for certain equipment purchased by data centers and their tenants.
Senate Bill 123 limits parole re-application for sexually violent offenders.
Senate Bill 149 amends the state Constitution to create a crime victims’ “Bill of Rights.” Since the measure is a Constitutional amendment it must be approved by the Senate and House during two sessions before it can go to the voters. It was approved during the 2017-18 Legislative Session as Senate Bill 1011.
Senate Bill 337 establishes sextortion as a specific criminal offense with consequences comparable to other sexual offenses.
Senate Bill 396 prohibits the sale of electronic nicotine delivery systems and alternative nicotine products to minors.
Senate Bill 399 provides for a comprehensive bill of rights for survivors of sexual assault.
Senate Bill 425 amends Pennsylvania’s Crime Victims Act to allow victims to attend the entirety of criminal trials.
Senate Bill 431 shields rape victims from irrelevant cross examination.
Senate Bill 469 addresses testimony by those with intellectual disabilities or autism.
Senate Bill 479 expands the Tender Years Exception for out-of-court statements to include additional serious sexual offenses.
Senate Bill 110 amends the Home Rule Law.
House Bill 264 adds fiscal procedures for the collection of monies by municipal authorities.
House Bill 275 changes the name of the “Early Intervention Program” under the Municipalities Financial Recovery Act to the “Strategic Management Planning Program.”
Senate Bill 316 allows newly elected Second Class Township Supervisors to attend conferences, institutes, schools and conventions prior to officially taking office.
Senate Bill 317 amends the Second Class Township Code regarding mandatory annual budget requirements.
The committee held a public hearing on the Pennsylvania Department of State’s intention to decertify all election machines statewide prior to the elections of 2020. Counties must then replace those machines with expensive new machines.
Senate Bill 109 requires passengers of a vehicle to render aid to anyone injured in an accident.
Senate Bill 338 increases the allowable width for farm equipment on roads.
Senate Bill 397 designates the interchange of the Mon-Fayette Expressway, Pennsylvania Route 43 and U.S. Route 119 in Fayette County as the Senator Richard A. Kasunic Interchange.
Senate Bill 441 designates the State Route 2087 bridge over the East Branch Codorus Creek in York County as the Sgt. Christopher M. Wrinkle and Tosca Memorial Bridge.
Urban Affairs & Housing
Senate Bill 30 creates a state housing tax credit.
Senate Bill 174 provides for the tax sale of abandoned properties.
Senate Bill 309 creates First-time Homebuyers Savings Accounts.
Veterans & Military Affairs
The committee held a public hearing Monday on the impact of Act 23 of 2015. The law was enacted to ensure that a service member’s military education and training are taken into consideration for the purpose of fulfilling requirements for professional credentials. The aim was to prevent the duplication of training and education of a veteran and get them into a civilian career faster. The hearing explored whether addition legislation is necessary.
The Senate returns to voting session on Monday, April 8 at 1 p.m. You can watch session live at PASenateGOP.com.
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