Week of October 17, 2016
In this Edition:
Senate Approves Legislation to Protect Responsible Gun Owners
On Monday, the Senate passed legislation I am co-sponsoring to prevent municipalities from targeting responsible gun owners with local firearms ordinances that are more restrictive than existing state laws.
Senate Bill 1330 would allow an individual or organization to sue to block an overly restrictive local firearms ordinance. In current practice, gun owners who are accused of violating local ordinances often lack the time and financial resources to engage in a lengthy and costly legal battle necessary to overturn unconstitutional gun regulations at the local level.
The legislation restores the original intent of the Uniform Firearms Act, which was designed to prevent municipalities from enacting their own ordinances. Similar legislation was signed into law in 2014, but a state Supreme Court ruling last year overturned the law based on procedural grounds that had nothing to do with the content of the law.
Senate Bill 1330 was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Bills Sent to Governor for Enactment
Senate Bill 286 increases transparency and accountability regarding the Delaware River Port Authority.
House Bill 447 amends the Landlord and Tenant Act by adding provisions for early termination of a lease if a tenant dies.
House Bill 683 eliminates Federal veterans’ disability payments and State veterans’ benefits from the definition of income when determining a claimant’s eligibility for the Property Tax Rent Rebate program.
Senate Bill 889 extends benefits to enforcement officers and investigators of the Game Commission and the Fish and Boat Commission.
House Bill 1581 amends the Crimes Code by adding the offense of strangulation, such as in domestic abuse cases in which the victim is not injured.
House Bill 1619 enacts the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact Act to develop a comprehensive process to allow physicians to become licensed in multiple states and allow eligible licensed physicians in one state to treat patients in other states via telemedicine.
House Bill 1734 provides a one-year extension of the continuing professional education compliance deadlines for schools, teachers and administrators.
House Bill 1841 and House Bill 1842 address temporary permits issued to those seeking to become a licensed perfusionist. A perfusionist is a certified medical technician responsible for extracorporeal oxygenation of the blood during open-heart surgery and for the operation and maintenance of equipment (as a heart-lung machine) controlling it.
Bills Approved by the Senate and Sent to the House
House Bill 49 extends the death benefit that is currently available to other emergency responders to members of the Pennsylvania Civil Air Patrol. The bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.
Senate Bill 535 allows Pennsylvania’s municipal police departments to use radar as a means of speed enforcement.
Senate Bill 840 provides for automated speed enforcement systems in construction zones.
House Bill 869 requires those convicted of second-degree misdemeanor, or higher, animal abuse to forfeit their animals to shelters or other organizations dedicated to preventing animal cruelty. It also permits courts to order similar forfeiture of animals upon conviction of a third-degree animal abuse misdemeanor. The bill also incorporates a number of proposals to prevent animal cruelty, including measures to prevent tethering dogs in unsafe conditions, strengthen penalties for animal abusers and include horses under Pennsylvania’s animal cruelty laws. The bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.
Senate Bill 976 amends the Wiretap Act to permit the use of body-worn cameras by police officers.
Senate Bill 1266 amends the Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act to provide additional consumer protections.
Senate Bill 1271 requires the courts to ensure that a child in foster care remains in the same school he or she is enrolled in prior to out-of-home placement or a change of placement unless the court determines that remaining in the same school would be contrary to the child's safety or well-being.
Senate Bill 1300 eliminates residency requirements imposed by a municipal code or charter as a qualification of elected office, or to fill a vacancy of elected office, for those on active military duty.
Senate Bill 1313 amends the Guaranteed Energy Savings Act by adding new definitions for “energy-related cost savings,” “energy savings company” and “operating costs” and amends the definition of “energy conservation measure” to clarify what costs are qualified under the act.
Senate Bill 1365 increases the number of Common Pleas judges in Bucks, Montgomery, Washington and Wayne counties.
A recap of activity by the Senate committees I serve on.
The Senate Appropriations Committee approved 27 bills. You can review each day’s action here:
Urban Affairs and Housing Committee
Senate Bill 1387 amends the Housing Authorities Law to allow a victim of domestic violence to request relocation.
Senate Resolution 421 urges the President and Congress to review the changes to the Federal floodplain management regulations that negatively impact blighted communities.
Majority Policy Committee
Leaders from the state’s largest student financial aid servicer and higher education institutions on Monday provided members of the Senate Majority Policy Committee and the Senate Education Committee with proposals to better inform the public on student loans.
According to testimony, Pennsylvania was slightly better than the national average for default rates when it comes to four-year public institutions (PA at 6 percent; national at 7.3 percent), four-year private institutions (PA at 4.8 percent; national at 6.5 percent) and community colleges (PA at 15.7 percent; national at 18.5 percent). Only for-profit schools in Pennsylvania have a higher default rate (15.7 percent) than the national average (15 percent). You can view the hearing and review all of the written testimony here.
The Senate reconvenes Monday, October 24 at 1 p.m. You can watch session at SenatorScottWagner.com.
I welcome your feedback and input. Please don’t hesitate to contact me via my website.