Senator Bob Mensch E-Newsletter

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In this Edition:

  • Comprehensive Upgrades of State Election Laws Enacted
  • Senate Votes to Strengthen Older Adult Protective Services
  • Mensch Thanks Korean and Korean-American Vietnam War Veterans
  • Senate Acts to Expand Telemedicine in Pennsylvania
  • Measure to Prevent Student Athlete Deaths Approved by Senate
  • Senate Passes Measure to Modernize Personal Asset Transfers
  • Senate Approves Bill to Protect Health Care Practitioners and Technicians
  • Other Bills sent to the Governor for Enactment
  • Other Bills Approved by the Senate and sent to the House
  • Committee Roundup
  • Up Next

Comprehensive Upgrades of State Election Laws Enacted

The Senate approved legislation Tuesday that will bring the most comprehensive changes to Pennsylvania’s election laws in more than eight decades. The bill was signed in to law Thursday.

Act 77 of 2019 will also provide $90 million in much-needed funding to replace county voting machines, boosting election security and ensuring that local taxpayers did not have to pick up the tab for the required upgrades.

Among its provisions, the bill would:

  • Extend the deadline for voters to submit an absentee ballot, from the Friday before Election Day until 8 p.m. on Election Day.
  • Push back the voter registration deadline from 30 days before an election to 15 days.
  • Allow voters to request and submit an absentee ballot by mail without providing a reason.
  • Create a permanent mail-in voter list.

The bill also eliminates antiquated straight-party voting, something that 40 states have already done.

The changes will promote a stronger system in which every voter can be certain that their vote counts, without creating any unnecessary delays for state residents to exercise their right to vote.

Senate Votes to Strengthen Older Adult Protective Services

10/30/19 - Older Adults Protective Services Act Re-Write (SB 819)

Legislation I’m sponsoring to better protect Pennsylvania’s senior population by overhauling the Older Adult Protective Services Act (OAPSA) was approved by the Senate on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 819 would improve the delivery of resources and efficiency of services provided to older adults. The bill will be sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

The bill would amend the OAPSA to streamline communications between organizations and agencies that care for seniors, and find ways to increase health care efficiency. It would also confront the rise of financial exploitation of older Pennsylvanians by giving financial institutions tools to intervene if they suspect an elder is being taken advantage of through the illegal taking, misuse or concealment of money, property or assets.

To combat elder abuse, the measure would provide mandatory reporters (physicians, health care providers and police) with a procedure for reporting suspected abuse, and give them the tools to work together on the investigations that follow. Senator Mensch urges colleagues to pass SB 819.

Mensch Thanks Korean and Korean-American Vietnam War Veterans

10/29/19 - Commending Korean and Korean-American Vietnam War Veterans

Senator Mensch introduced a resolution commending Korean and Korean-American Vietnam War veterans for their service to the United States during the Vietnam conflict. In addition, he was pleased to welcome several Korean-Vietnam war veterans who were visiting Harrisburg.


Senate Approves Bill to Protect Health Care Practitioners and Technicians 

The Senate voted Monday to extend new protections to members of the healthcare community by strengthening penalties for assaults against health care practitioners and technicians. The bill was sent to the House of Representatives for its consideration.

The bill would increase the penalty for an assault on a health care practitioner or technician, while in the performance of duty where there is bodily injury, from a misdemeanor of the second degree to a felony of the second degree.

Existing state law already provides stiffer penalties for assaults against EMS personnel, including doctors, residents, nurses, paramedics and other members of the health care community.

Senate Bill 351 would extend the same protections to a broader range of health care practitioners, including social workers, pharmacists, audiologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, athletic trainers, dietitian-nutritionists, massage therapists, optometrists, podiatrists, physician assistants and respiratory therapists.

A number of health care technicians would also be included under the bill, such as cardiac device specialists, diagnostic medical sonographers, cardiac sonographer, exercise physiologists, vascular technologists, pharmacy technicians and physical therapy aides.

Senate Acts to Expand Telemedicine in Pennsylvania 

The Senate on Wednesday approved legislation I’m co-sponsoring aimed at promoting telemedicine in Pennsylvania as a way to overcome barriers to quality patient care created by distance and reduce the costs of those services. 

Telemedicine is the delivery of health care services via advanced technologies, such as apps, Skype, and FaceTime. Senate Bill 857 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

The bill establishes guidelines regarding who can provide telemedicine services, and provides clarity regarding insurance company reimbursement for those services. Physicians and other health practitioners delivering telemedicine services would still be required to follow standard state licensure and medical practice laws and requirements in Pennsylvania.

Telemedicine is especially helpful for patients who suffer from chronic illness, seniors who are homebound and families who live in rural areas where they would have to travel very far to receive medical care.

Measure to Prevent Student Athlete Deaths Approved by Senate

On Wednesday, the Senate approved legislation to help student athletes and their parents take steps to prevent Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA).

Senate Bill 836, known as Peyton’s Law, would inform student athletes and their parents about the importance of electrocardiogram (EKG) testing to detect underlying heart conditions that can lead to SCA. The legislation is named after Peyton Walker of Cumberland County, who died from Sudden Cardiac Arrest when she was just 19 years old.

Currently, student athletes and parents receive an SCA symptoms and warning signs information sheet each school year, which must be signed and returned prior to participation in athletic activities.

Senate Bill 836 amends current law to require: 1) information be provided to student athletes and their parents/guardians regarding electrocardiogram testing and 2) they be notified of the option to request the administration of an electrocardiogram in addition to the standard physical examination.

Senate Passes Measure to Modernize Personal Asset Transfers

On Monday, the Senate approved legislation that would allow Pennsylvanians to transfer digital assets and property in the same manner as tangible property.

Senate Bill 320 would align Pennsylvania’s estate laws with 21st century realties, providing people a mechanism to leave digital assets to trusted friends and family upon their passing. 

The legislation would allow music, books, videos, photos and documents stored digitally to be transferred to beneficiaries once an individual dies.  This would be done the same way tangible property is transferred: by providing instructions in a will, trust or power-of-attorney. 

Currently, rules regarding the disposition of digital assets are dictated by the Terms-of-Service set by digital platforms.  When an account holder dies or otherwise loses the ability to manage their own digital assets, family or an estate executor can often be stymied in their efforts to gain access to the online accounts of the deceased.


Senator Mensch welcomed Mr. Soo-Seo who was accompanied by Master Bong Yang and members of the 21st Century America-Korea-China Leaders Society. Video


Other Bills sent to the Governor for Enactment

House Bill 374 establishes the Keystone Tree Restricted Account and allows for $3 contributions to the account when electronically renewing a driver’s license.

House Bill 407 provides a standard definition for the term “blighted property.”

House Bill 510 amends Title 53 (Municipalities Generally) regarding intergovernmental cooperation.

House Bill 511 amends the Second Class Township Code, providing for intergovernmental cooperation.

House Bill 512 amends Title 11 (Cities) providing for municipal authorities and cooperation with other political subdivisions.

Senate Bill 694 allows gas well bores to cross multiple units provided that the operator has the right to drill wells on the units.

House Bill 1016 describes the conditions under which the state Insurance Commissioner may declare a domestic society to be in a hazardous condition and may take actions and sets a process to liquidate fraternal benefit societies.

Other Bills Approved by the Senate and sent to the House 

Senate Bill 332 increases the service charge for bad checks.

Senate Bill 352 provides local taxing authorities with the option to designate deteriorated areas within their communities and offer an incentive to developers and property owners who are approved to rebuild or improve the blighted property.

Senate Bill 841 reauthorizes the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council.

Senate Bill 905 is the Fiscal Year 2019-20 Capital Budget Project Itemization Act.

Senate Bill 919 establishes statewide uniform requirements restricting the use of Class B firefighting foams containing added PFAS chemistries for training, restricting their use in testing, while also allowing for continued sale and use against real-world fires.

Committee Roundup

Bills approved in committees. 

Appropriations

Senate Bill 67 addresses the adoption of the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact to allow for tele-psychological practice across state lines and temporary in-person services.

House Bill 305 directs the Department of General Services to include, in its surveys and inventories of Commonwealth real estate structures and assets, information on the possible use of such assets for fixed or mobile broadband services.

Senate Bill 327 requires executive, independent and state-affiliated agencies to report their space usage to the Department of General Services on an annual basis.

Senate Bill 352 provides local taxing authorities with the option to designate deteriorated areas within their communities and offer an incentive to developers and property owners who are approved to rebuild or improve the blighted property.

House Bill 374 establishes the Keystone Tree Restricted Account and allows for $3 contributions to the account when electronically renewing a driver’s license.

Senate Bill 905 is the Fiscal Year 2019-20 Capital Budget Project Itemization Act.

House Bill 1016 describes the conditions under which the state Insurance Commissioner may declare a domestic society to be in a hazardous condition and may take actions and sets a process to liquidate fraternal benefit societies.

Senate Bill 836 amends Act 59 to require information be provided to student athletes regarding electrocardiogram testing and that they be notified of the option to request an electrocardiogram.

Senate Bill 841 reauthorizes the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council.

Senate Bill 857 promotes telemedicine in Pennsylvania.

Senate Bill 906 institutes a moratorium on the closing of the Polk and White Haven State Centers.

Senate Bill 919 establishes statewide uniform requirements restricting the use of Class B firefighting foams containing added PFAS chemistries for training, restricting their use in testing, while also allowing for continued sale and use against real-world fires.

House Bill 1410 amends the Transit Revitalization Investment District Act (Act 238 of 2004) by providing for military installation remediation and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances remediation.

Banking & Insurance

Senate Bill 857 promotes telemedicine in Pennsylvania.

Communications and Technology

On Wednesday, the committee held a public hearing to discuss the consolidation of the state’s IT services and making improvements to cybersecurity capabilities. Hearing Video & Written Testimony

Community, Economic & Recreational Development

Senate Bill 570 provides additional funding for distressed municipalities under Act 47.

Senate Bill 784 makes several changes to the Small Games of Chance Act.

House Bill 1325 provides for an evaluation for a gambling disorder for individuals who are charged with criminal trespass and violate the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board self-exclusion list.

Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure

Senate Bill 596 establishes the Pennsylvania Clean Transportation Infrastructure Act.

Senate Bill 637 creates a set of rules for consideration of criminal records in occupational licensure.

Senate Bill 640 authorizes the Commonwealth to join the interstate Physical Therapist Compact.

Education

Senate Bill 530 requires that a student who is convicted or adjudicated delinquent of sexual assault to be removed from the school building, if they are enrolled in the same school as the victim.

Senate Bill 850 establishes the Community Integrated Schools for Success pilot program. 

Finance

Senate Bill 931 allows participating employers in the State Employee Retirement System to pre-fund all or a portion of their “unfunded actuarial liability.”

Health & Human Services

Senate Bill 841 reauthorizes the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council.

Judiciary

Senate Bill 647 allows for a $5 surcharge to be added to DUI fines to provide additional funding to the State Police for the training of state and local Drug Recognition Experts.

Senate Bill 902 amends the County Code to clarify succession for a First Assistant District Attorney upon a vacancy of the office of District Attorney in Fourth through Eighth Class counties.

Senate Bill 924 provides for guardianship of medically disabled adult children.

House Bill 1402 amends the Crimes Code to add a new offense of sexual extortion.

Labor & Industry

House Bill 68 amends the Unemployment Compensation Law to extend the time for an employer to request relief from charges from 15 to 21 days.

House Bill 280 amends the Unemployment Compensation Law to increase the time allotted for parties to appeal the determination of an Unemployment Compensation Service Center and the decision of an Unemployment Compensation referee from 15 days to 21 days.

House Bill 1522 amends the Child Labor Act to modify volunteer junior firefighter training requirements.

House Bill 1537 amends the Unemployment Compensation Law to provide additional flexibility for the scheduled drawdown of dollars allocated for the Benefit Modernization project.

Senate Bill 922 clarifies language in the Worker’s Compensation Act in light of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision in Whitmoyer v. WCAB (Mt. Country Meats).

Law and Justice

The committee held a public hearing Tuesday on legislation to increase the number of retail outlets that sell spirits and legislation pertaining to license availability, and to hear testimony on consumer convenience reforms to Act 39 of 2016.
Hearing Video & Written Testimony

Local Government

House Bill 1203 requires that the annual audit of an authority comply with state and federal standards and allows the incorporating municipality to request assistance from the Auditor General.

On Monday, the committee held a public hearing on the Community Services Block Grant Program from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.
Hearing Video & Written Testimony

State Government

House Bill 57 disbands various outdated boards, commissions, committees and other entities.

Senate Resolution 153 urges Congress to ratify the United-States-Mexico-Canada Agreement on trade.

Senate Bill 895 conveys property in Benner Township, Centre County to the Centre County Industrial Development Corporation.

Transportation

Senate Bill 132 waives the duplicate driver license fee for veterans.

Senate Bill 489 provides a reduction in license plate registration fees for veterans.

Senate Bill 858 reduces transfers from the Motor License Fund to the State Police.

Senate Bill 927 addresses the verification process for a veteran’s designation on driver licenses.

House Bill 1547 renames several highways and bridges.

Senate Urban Affairs & Housing

On Wednesday, the committee held a public hearing Public Hearing on Senate Bill 775 and House Bill 1559. Hearing Video & Written Testimony           

Up Next 

The Senate returns to voting session on Monday, November 18. You can watch session live at PASenateGOP.com.

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