Senator Bob Mensch E-Newsletter

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Week of March 26, 2018

In this Edition:

  • Mensch Calls for Comprehensive Safety Review of PA Schools
  • Mensch Measure Designating April 8-14 as “Crime Victims’ Rights Week” Approved by Senate
  • Budget Hearing: Department of Health & Department of Human Services
  • Senate Approves Bill Reforming Prison Closing Process
  • Other Bills Approved by Senate and Sent to House
  • Bills Sent to Governor for Enactment
  • Committee Roundup
  • Up Next

Mensch Calls for Comprehensive Safety Review of PA Schools

On Tuesday, I joined Senator Scott Martin of Lancaster County in introducing a Senate Resolution that calls for a comprehensive review of school safety in Pennsylvania.

The resolution would require the Joint State Government Commission to work with schools, law enforcement and other entities to assess safety measures that are currently in place and determine what steps schools have taken to evaluate and improve school safety. School safety practices in other states would also be examined to determine whether those strategies could work in Pennsylvania schools.

The Commission will also be tasked with evaluating the effectiveness of gun-free policies in schools, as well as reviewing Pennsylvania’s background check system for firearm purchases.

The issue of school safety is extremely broad and complex, but there is obviously a need to review every facet of this problem to determine what is working and what we can do better. I am optimistic that the findings of this study will help guide lawmakers in taking meaningful steps to address weaknesses in the system that could lead to a tragedy.

The Commission’s report on school safety is expected to include information on the number of schools that have received a Risk and Vulnerability Assessment by Pennsylvania State Police in the last 10 years and whether schools took action on the resulting safety recommendations.

Improving school safety should not be a controversial or partisan issue. Each school across the state and the country has its own strategies in place to protect students. This study offers an opportunity to build upon that foundation and expand the use of proven strategies to prevent school violence.

Mensch Measure Designating April 8-14 as “Crime Victims’ Rights Week” Approved by Senate

3/27/18 - Crime Victims' Rights Week

A Senate Resolution I sponsored designating the week of April 8 through 14, 2018 as Crime Victims’ Rights Week in Pennsylvania was unanimously approved Tuesday by the Senate. 

Nearly 16 million Americans were victimized by crime in 2016, 5.7 million of whom were victims of violent crime.

The millions of survivors of crime and their families are no less deserving of justice, rights, resources, restoration and rehabilitation than the violent offenders who victimize them. The citizens of Pennsylvania realize that we can make our homes, neighborhoods, and communities safer and stronger by serving victims of crime and ensuring justice for all.

The Office of Victims Advocate was established by the Pennsylvania General Assembly nearly 20 years ago to assist crime victims and promote justice and healing for all victims of crimes.

Over the past two decades, crime victims and their advocates in every county of this Commonwealth have made unparalleled progress toward balancing the scales of justice in the criminal justice system. Crime Victims’ Rights Week will draw attention to this progress, as well as the need to do more to stand up for the victims of crime.

I am a strong supporter of a package of bills strengthening protections for victims of crime and ensuring that victims and their families are treated with respect and dignity by the criminal justice system. These bills were approved by the Senate last week.

Budget Hearing: Department of Health & Department of Human Services

3/27/18 - Budget Hearing Q&A: Health and Human Services

Senator Mensch discussed the importance of funding for initiatives to help Pennsylvanians with intellectual disabilities, and the need for better mental health screening for troubled students.

Representatives of the Department of Health and the Department of Human Services offered an update on the proposed consolidation of the two agencies. Other topics of discussion included:

  • The effect of procurement contract disputes on consolidation.
  • The reauthorization of hospital assessments and how it will affect the General Fund.
  • Concerns regarding the rate structure for direct care workers.
  • Questions regarding the Governor’s veto of work requirements for Medicaid recipients.
  • How human services programs can create a bridge to self-sufficiency.
  • Unreasonable delays in processing requests for vital records and funding to correct the problem.
  • Ensuring proper treatment for patients suffering from opioid addiction.
  • Achieving better healthcare outcomes through evidence-based medicine.
  • Measuring the cost and effectiveness of Centers of Excellence in treating addiction.
  • Early reports on the roll-out of the Community HealthChoices managed care program.
  • Measures in place to ensure patients are presented with all enrollment options for long-term care services.
  • Success of other states in implementing work requirements for able-bodied SNAP recipients.
  • Proposed funding cuts for programs and services for individuals with disabilities.
  • Ensuring schools have resources to evaluate mental health concerns.
  • Prevalence of Lyme disease in Pennsylvania compared to neighboring states.
  • Potential impacts of the closure of the Hamburg State Center for people with intellectual disabilities.
  • The evaluation and oversight of Pennsylvania’s medical cannabis program.
  • Options for listing parents on birth certificates.

Department of Health & Department of Human Services Hearing 

Senate Approves Bill Reforming Prison Closing Process

The Senate approved legislation on Tuesday intended to reform the process by which state prisons are closed in Pennsylvania.

On January 6, 2017, the Department of Corrections announced plans to close two of five selected state correctional institutions.  A final decision for closures was set for January 26, leaving only 20 days to gather feedback from the public, the institutions’ employees, local government officials and legislators.

Senate Bill 748 ensures there is adequate notice and consideration of any proposed closure of a state correctional institution or other facility that employs law enforcement staff. The bill sets specific notification requirements and requires the development of strategies to minimize the stress on employees and local communities.

Other Bills Approved by Senate and Sent to House 

Senate Bill 114 allows a sewer authority to obtain a court order to terminate sewer service to commercial customers who are at least 6 months delinquent in payment of their sewer bills.

Senate Bill 263 eliminates the requirement that disabled voters — with permanent absentee voter status  — submit a written statement every four years.

Senate Bill 762 requires an external performance audit of the Pennsylvania Statewide Uniform Registry of Electors and the process by which voter registrations records are entered and maintained. 

Senate Bill 776 extends the Dyslexia and Early Literacy Intervention Pilot Program.           

Bills Sent to Governor for Enactment 

House Bill 1486 exempts “high tunnels” from the requirements of the Storm Water Management Act.

House Bill 1854 designates a portion of Route 522 in Snyder County as the Staff Sgt. Stanley R. Saylor Memorial Highway.

Committee Roundup


The Senate Appropriations Committee approved six bills on Monday.

Senate Bill 263 eliminates the requirement that disabled voters — with permanent absentee voter status — submit a written statement every four years.

Senate Bill 439 requires carbon monoxide detectors in child care facilities.

Senate Bill 521 adds CPR instruction to the education curriculum for high school students.

Senate Bill 762 requires an external performance audit of the Pennsylvania Statewide Uniform Registry of Electors and the process by which voter registrations records are entered and maintained. 

Senate Bill 776 extends the Dyslexia and Early Literacy Intervention Pilot Program.

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

Banking & Insurance

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved Senate Bill 257 on Tuesday. The bill increases parity in the eye care industry.

Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure

The Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee approved House Bill 863 on Tuesday. The bill amends the Real Estate Licensing and Registration Act to increase the educational requirements for the salesperson license and to authorize brokers and salespersons to prepare Broker Price Opinions.

Environmental Resources & Energy

The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee approved House Bill 544 on Tuesday. The bill addresses the issue of recreational use and liability to protect landowners in the event of injuries to recreational users.


The Senate Judiciary Committee approved nine bills on Tuesday.

House Bill 56 provides access to adoption-related counseling services to birth parents who are considering relinquishing their parental rights.

House Bill 61 allows a correctional facility employee to serve as a witness when a birth parent who is incarcerated consents to an adoption.

House Bill 63 expands the definition of “intermediary” in adoption law to include an attorney or social worker who is acting in that capacity.

House Bill 289 adds reasonable living expenses incurred by a birth mother to the list of permissible reimbursable expenses paid by adoptive parents in an adoption.

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 1090 increases penalties for hazing and requires schools to have policies and reporting procedures in place to stop hazing.

State Government

The Senate State Government Committee approved two bills Tuesday.

Senate Bill 1078 allows municipalities and school districts to discuss security and safety matters in executive session.

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

The committee held a public hearing on Tuesday on four Senate bills that would change the process by which the Commonwealth establishes its Congressional Districts. Redistricting normally takes place every 10 years, following the U.S. Census, to reflect population changes both nationally and within the state.

Hearing Video & Written Testimony


The Senate Transportation Committee approved four bills on Monday.

House Bill 215 establishes Honoring Our Women Veterans and Recipients of Legion of Merit license plates.

Senate Bill 1080 renames a road.

Senate Bill 1091 provides for contributions for pediatric cancer research and establishes the Pediatric Cancer Research Fund.

House Bill 1414 authorizes visual and audible signals on emergency vehicles for additional fire personnel, flashing yellow and white lights on tow trucks, yellow strobe lights for solid waste collection vehicles, and mounted internal blue lights for volunteer firefighters. 

Up Next

The Senate returns to voting session Monday, April 16 at 1 p.m. You can watch session live at

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