Senator Bob Mensch E-Newsletter

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Week of June 4, 2018

In this Edition:

  • Senate Acts to Implement School Threat Reporting Measure
  • Mensch Panel Releases Reports on PA Water Use, Regional College, Game Commission, Tavern Gaming
  • Senate Approves Tougher Penalties for SNAP/Food Stamps Fraud
  • Bill Provides More Opioid Addiction Treatment Options
  • Senate Approves Bill Ensuring EMS Reimbursements for Service
  • Bills Provide Taxpayer Savings on Municipal Purchases
  • Additional Bills Approved by Senate and Sent to House
  • Bills Sent to Governor for Enactment
  • Committee Roundup
  • Next Week

Senate Acts to Implement School Threat Reporting Measure

On Wednesday, the Senate approved legislation I am co-sponsoring that will create a new threat monitoring system to help reduce school violence.

The Safe2Say Program, as created by Senate Bill 1142, would allow anonymous reporting of threats regarding unsafe, potentially harmful, dangerous, violent or criminal activities in schools. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration. The state Attorney General’s office would create the system, which would accept anonymous tips through a hotline, online or an app.

The Safe2Say Program is modeled after a similar system created in Colorado following the school shootings at Columbine High School in 1999. Since its inception, Colorado authorities have received more than 30,000 reports of potentially dangerous situations. At least five other states have created similar programs.

Mensch Panel Releases Reports on PA Water Use, Regional College, Game Commission, Tavern Gaming

6/6/18 - Legislative Budget & Finance Committee: Receiving Reports

On Wednesday, the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee, which I chair, met to release four reports:

  • Feasibility of Establishing a Water Use Fee in Pennsylvania
  • An Interim Report on the Establishment of the Northern Pennsylvania Regional College
  • PA Game Commission Compliance with Its Strategic Plan
  • The Impact of Tavern Gaming on the Pennsylvania State Lottery

You can view the reports here.

Senate Approves Tougher Penalties for SNAP/Food Stamps Fraud

The Senate approved legislation Wednesday that I am co-sponsoring to reduce fraud in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and hold perpetrators accountable.

Senate Bill 1127 would create a new penalty for the fraudulent trafficking of SNAP benefits in an amount greater than $2,500. Violators would be required to pay restitution of up to three times the amount of fraud they committed.

The bill stems from a case uncovered last year by the Office of State Inspector General in which a Harrisburg restaurant traded drugs for EBT cards and bought thousands of dollars of supplies from a food wholesale club to be resold for profit. Senate Bill 1127 was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Bill Provides More Opioid Addiction Treatment Options 

The Senate approved legislation Tuesday to help courts provide better treatment options to defendants addicted to opioids.

Senate Bill 922, which I am co-sponsoring, creates the Court Assessment for Non-narcotic Medication Substance Abuse Treatment Program and is one of several measures in the General Assembly that address the growing opioid epidemic.

The program is intended to encourage the use of FDA-approved non-narcotic, non-addictive medications in conjunction with comprehensive substance use disorder treatment programs. The use of long–acting and non-narcotic medications has proven to reduce a person’s need for treatment to approximately six to 12 months.

Senate Approves Bill Ensuring EMS Reimbursements for Service

The Senate approved legislation Wednesday that will require insurance companies and Medicaid to reimburse emergency medical services agencies for services provided even when transport to a hospital does not take place but care is rendered.

Senate Bill 1003 will ensure that EMS agencies are properly reimbursed for their services when called out to provide care. Currently, insurance companies and Medicaid are only required to reimburse EMS organizations for services when they include transportation to a hospital, leaving many volunteer EMS services to foot the bill.

Bills Provide Taxpayer Savings on Municipal Purchases

The Senate passed a package of bills this week that will provide savings for many Pennsylvania municipalities and save taxpayers’ money.

Three bills — Senate Bill 771 (boroughs and third-class cities), Senate Bill 772 (first-class townships) and Senate Bill 773 (incorporated towns) — provide for concise publication of required annual financial reporting information, thus providing savings for those municipalities.

Three additional bills — Senate Bill 947 (boroughs and third-class cities), Senate Bill 948 (first-class townships) and Senate Bill 949 (incorporated towns) — increases the threshold for requiring public advertising for bids from $1,000 to $2,000 when those municipalities sell personal property.

Additional Bills Approved by Senate and Sent to House

House Bill 564 requires students to pass a civics test as a condition of high school graduation. The bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.

 House Bill 653 provides for an accelerated foreclosure process for vacant and abandoned property. The bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.

Senate Bill 1005 makes numerous changes to the County Code.

Senate Bill 1037 reforms and modernizes the Pennsylvania Civil Service Commission.

Bills Sent to Governor for Enactment

Senate Bill 234 establishes the Property Assessed Clean Energy program. I voted against this bill.

House Bill 352 reduces the period of time needed to acquire a title through adverse possession under specific circumstances.

House Bill 566 provides for the suspension of services by a contractor or a subcontractor if timely payment is not received in accordance with the terms of a construction contract.

Senate Bill 880 allows trailers up to 102-inch wide on Pennsylvania highways.

House Bill 1793 creates the Pennsylvania Commission for the United States Semiquincentennial.

House Bill 1952 addresses a state Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision that impacts Pennsylvania’s sexual offender registration act.

Committee Roundup

Appropriations

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved eight bills on Monday.

House Bill 564 requires students to pass a civics test as a condition of high school graduation.

Senate Bill 859 establishes a grant program to assist counties in diverting individuals with mental health problems from the criminal justice system.

Senate Bill 860 enacts the Criminal Justice and Addiction Treatment Act.

Senate Bill 884 makes changes for guardianship in Pennsylvania.

Senate Bill 922 creates the Court Assessment for Nonnarcotic Medication Substance Abuse Treatment Program. 

Senate Bill 1003 requires insurance companies and Medicaid to reimburse emergency medical services agencies for services provided even when transport to a hospital does not take place.

Senate Bill 1037 reforms and modernizes the Pennsylvania Civil Service Commission.

Senate Bill 1132 establishes a statewide Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission.

The Appropriations Committee approved three bills on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 22 provides for an independent Redistricting Commission.

Senate Bill 299 changes the way that an incumbent magisterial district judge gets on the ballot for re-election.

House Bill 824 establishes the National Guard Youth Challenge Program.

Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure

The Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee approved three bills on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 668 amends and modernizes the Optometric Practice and Licensure Act.

House Bill 1343 authorizes professional and occupational licensing boards to allow carryover of excess continuing education credits.

House Bill 1782 authorizes the use of alternative rate mechanisms by public utilities.

Finance

The Senate Finance Committee approved House Bill 1460 on Wednesday. The bill imposes additional reporting requirements on the Public School Employees’ Retirement System and the State Employees’ Retirement System.

Judiciary

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved 11 bills on Tuesday.

House Bill 159 clarifies that the failure of a child to comply with a lawful sentence imposed for a summary offense constitutes a “delinquent act.”

House Bill 983 ensures that an abusive spouse is ineligible to receive financial support from the person that he or she was convicted of abusing.

Senate Bill 1043 clarifies that criminal records may be used to justify an adverse employment decision only if the records are relevant to the employee’s suitability for the position.

Senate Bill 1129 addresses paternity issues.

Senate Bill 1134 establishes sextortion as a specific criminal offense.

Senate Bill 1175 allows the use of a subpoena to obtain information from a social media account to investigate a threat made against a school. It also requires district attorneys and judges to review the disciplinary records of any student being prosecuted for making a terroristic threat.

House Bill 1216 provides that any law enforcement officer, humane society police officer, animal control officer or emergency responder who rescues a dog or cat from an unattended vehicle will not be liable for any damage caused by the rescue.

House Bill 1346 provides for the offense of unlawful use of an unmanned aircraft and the preemption of local ordinances or regulations.

House Bill 1644 establishes the Collaborative Law Act.

House Bill 1738 allows trained and certified non-municipal police officers the same jurisdictional flexibility as municipal police officers.

House Bill 1918 updates and upgrades state law regarding the use of fraudulent credit card devices.

Labor & Industry

The Senate Labor and Industry Committee approved two bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 934 expands the authority of the Elevator Advisory Board, a subcommittee of the Industrial Board under the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry. 

House Bill 1641 creates the Employment First Act.

Majority Police Committee

On Tuesday, the Senate Majority Policy Committee held a public hearing on work requirements for welfare recipients.  One of the architects of Maine’s expansion of work requirements for welfare discussed efforts to replicate the success in Pennsylvania.

Sam Adolphsen told the committee: “When Maine required able-bodied adults on food stamps to work, train or volunteer, we tracked those individuals the year after they left the program. They ended up earning more than double what they had earned before in one year, and the average person moved out of poverty.”  Hearing Video & Data 

Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness

The Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee approved two bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 1157 gives the Auditor General the authority to audit the Statewide Radio System.

Senate Bill 1172 amends the Price Gouging Act. 

Next Week

The Senate returns to voting session on Monday at 1 p.m. You can watch session live at PASenateGOP.com

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