Weekly Wrap

It was a mixed bag at the Capitol this week, as the Senate was in session on Monday and Tuesday and the House of Representatives was in session on Wednesday.

On Monday, the Senate Aging and Youth Committee reported out two bills of note: S.B. 983 (DiSanto, R-Dauphin), which would expand the Newborn Child Screening and Follow-up Program by merging the mandatory and supplemental disorder lists and establish a standard newborn screening fee; and S.B. 1279 (Mensch, R-Montgomery), which would allow a family member or other designated person to visit and care for a relative in a long-term care facility.

The same goes for the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee, as H.B. 858  (Brown, R-Monroe), which would authorize and permit financial institutions to conduct savings promotion programs, and H.B. 1769  (Mackenzie, R-Lehigh), which would provide protections for annuitants who are donors to a charity that provides for charitable gift annuities, were reported from the committee.

The Senate Appropriations Committee considered several bills, most notably:

  • H.B. 30  (Petrarca, D-Westmoreland), which would provide for additional contributions to the Governor Robert P. Casey Memorial Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Trust Fund;
  • S.B. 810  (Phillips-Hill, R-York), which would provide for the administration of the Commonwealth's informational technology portfolio across state government agencies under a new Office of Information Technology in the Office of Administration; and
  • S.B. 890  (Mensch, R-Montgomery), which would allow individuals with disabilities to increase earnings under a new category of the Medical Assistance for Workers with Disabilities.

Tuesday, the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee reported out the following bills:

  • H.B. 770  (DeLuca, D-Allegheny), which would require pharmacy technicians to register with the State Board of Pharmacy;
  • H.B. 1947  (Kaufer, R-Luzerne), which would modernize the process by which graduates of international medical schools become licensed in Pennsylvania;
  • S.B. 391  (Gordner, R-Columbia), which would make various changes to the Optometric Practice and Licensure Act including the therapeutic drug approval process and the definition of the practice of optometry; and
  • S.B. 1112  (Phillips-Hill, R-York), which would: (1) waive certain regulations that apply to landline telephone companies in order to facilitate the deployment of broadband services in rural parts of the state; (2) require the PUC to review its telecommunications regulations every three years and eliminate all regulations that are no longer necessary or in the public interest; and (3) prohibit the promulgation of new regulations once voice subscriptions fall below 10 percent of total voice subscriptions in state.

The Senate Education Committee reported out: S.B. 1268  (Ward, R-Blair), which would enable temporary nurse aides hired during the COVID-19 emergency declaration to transition to certified nurse aides; and S.B. 1251  (Dinniman, D-Chester), which would establish a committee to study and make findings and recommendations regarding the standardized testing.  

In addition, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee voted favorably on: H.B. 924  (Toohil, R-Luzerne), which would establish the Living Donor Protection Act; and H.B. 1220  (Cruz, D-Philadelphia), which would provide for educational information regarding cytomegalovirus (CMV) and requires testing of newborns for CMV. Lastly, the Senate State Government Committee reported out S.B. 1242  (Killion, R-Delaware), which would reform the current processes for redistricting of state legislative and congressional districts to prevent gerrymandering and promote accountability.

The following bills passed on the Senate floor and will go to the House for consideration:

  • S.B. 487  (Laughlin, R-Erie), which would make various changes to the Breach of Personal Information Notification Act, including requiring a state agency, county, school district or municipality to notify the subject of a breach of security within seven business days following the discovery of a breach of security;
  • S.B. 1189  (Ward, R-Westmoreland), which would ensure that long-term care, personal care, and assisted living homes are adequately equipped to follow guidelines for the prevention and control of a communicable disease; and
  • S.B. 1241  (Argall, R-Schuylkill), which would require the Department of General Services to conduct an annual survey of state facility usage.

The Senate also passed H.B. 2513 (Everett, R-Lycoming), which would permit indoor establishments to operate at 50 percent capacity, expand outdoor operations, and provide bar service for food and beverage under the proclamation of a disaster emergency. On Wednesday, the House concurred in Senate amendments and the bill was signed in the House. Once signed in the Senate the bill will go to the Governor's desk for his signature.

Also on Wednesday, the House failed to override the Governor's veto of H.B. 2787 (Reese, R-Westmoreland) by five votes. The bill would give each school district the authority to determine whether to hold school sports and extracurricular activities in-person during the 2020-21 school year.

The Week Ahead

The House will be in session Tuesday-Wednesday next week.

On Tuesday, the House Professional Licensure Committee will consider H.B. 100 (Topper, R-Bedford), which would modernize provisions of the Professional Nursing Law relating to Advanced Practice Registered Nurse-Certified Nurse Practitioners (APRN-CNP). Also, the House Labor and Industry Committee will consider S.B. 594 (Langerholc, R-Cambria), which would require employers who have a certified safety committee as part of their workers' compensation program to include information about the risks associated with the use of opioids.

The House Health Committee will consider: H.B. 2202 (Klunk, R-York), which would allow individuals with disabilities to increase earnings under a new category of the Medical Assistance for Workers with Disabilities; and S.B. 273 (Ward, R-Blair), which would remove the cap on funds which can be obtained by federally qualified health centers.

Wednesday's schedule has two hearings to watch for. First, the House Health Committee will hold a public hearing on treatment options for COVID-19. Secondly, the House Finance Committee will hold an informational meeting with the Treasury Department on the fiscal condition of the Commonwealth and the challenges faced by older Pennsylvanians when preparing for retirement.

The House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee is holding an informational meeting on spill reporting requirements under the Clean Streams Law. The committee will then have a voting meeting to consider: H.B. 707 (Zimmerman, R-Lancaster), which would exclude water facilities owned by religious institutions from the definition of public water system; and H.B. 2197 (Dush, R-Jefferson), which would amend the Covered Device Recycling Act to include photovoltaic modules of solar panels.

The House Transportation Committee will consider two bills of note: H.B. 2646 (Wentling, R-Mercer), which would update the Vehicle Code regarding pedalcycles with electric assist (e-bikes); and S.B. 745 (Stefano, R-Fayette), which would replace emission inspection requirements on certain older model vehicles in the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh regions. There's two bills on the House Local Government Committee agenda as well: H.B. 2093 (Polinchock, R-Bucks), which would restrict local governments from prohibiting the use of land for agritourism or agricultural purposes; and S.B. 464 (Tartaglione, D-Philadelphia), which would establish the Pennsylvania Occupational Safety and Health Review Board within the Department of Labor and Industry.

Lastly for voting meetings, the House Aging and Older Adult Services Committee will consider H.B. 2867 (Day, R-Lehigh), which would ensure infectious disease control measures are taken at long-term care facilities.

Thursday, the House Health and House Labor and Industry Committees will hold a joint public hearing on the impacts of the Department of Health's actions on employers.

For a full list of committee meetings:



In Other News

  • Governor Wolf vetoed H.B. 2025 (Struzzi, R-Indiana), which would have required legislative approval before the Department of Environmental Protection could take action to abate, control or limit carbon dioxide emission, including joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).
  • The Governor and Department of Health launched the COVID-19 exposure notification mobile app.
  • The Departments of Environmental Protection and Transportation will hold an informational webinar on the benefits and basics of driving electric vehicles.
  • The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources released the new Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan and announced grants for community parks, communities, and partnerships.
  • The Department of Human Services issued updated COVID-19 guidance for personal care homes, assisted living residences, and private intermediate care facilities.

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