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In this Email Update:
Senate approves ‘Corrections Officers Bill of Rights’
State corrections employees would be given greater legal protection during investigations as part of legislation I sponsored that was approved by the Senate last week.
Senate Bill 404, also known as the Corrections Officers Bill of Rights, would establish new standards to protect the rights of state correctional officers during certain investigations by the Department of Corrections. The measure includes provisions guaranteeing prompt notification and investigation of complaints.
Any corrections officer who is found guilty of a crime should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, but we must take great care to ensure any false or frivolous accusation offered by inmates does not impact the lives of honest, hardworking officers.
The legislation was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Learn more about my proposal here.
Work zone safety measures reviewed before Senate, House committees
Legislation that would improve safety in active work zones on interstate highways across the state was the topic of a joint public hearing between the Senate and House Transportation Committees on Tuesday. Senate Bill 840, sponsored by Senator Judy Schwank and me, would create a five-year pilot program for automated speed enforcement systems in active work zones along interstate highways in Pennsylvania. I participated in a panel discussion on the issue alongside representatives from the Associated Pennsylvania .
Constructors, Pennsylvania State Police and the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association.
Learn more about our bipartisan proposal here.
Happy Birthday, Theresa Matino!
It was an honor to celebrate the 100th birthday of Shenandoah resident Theresa Matino last Sunday with family and friends! When I asked her the secret to her long life, this was her answer: Eat more spaghetti!
Schuylkill County Commissioner George Halcovage and I presented Theresa with congratulatory citations from the county and state. Happy Birthday, Theresa!
Senate resolution asks Congress to investigate unfair foreign subsidies for anthracite coal
The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee unanimously approved my resolution last Monday calling on Congress and the President to investigate unfair foreign government subsidies for their exports to the United States of anthracite coal.
The anthracite coal industry in Russia, Ukraine and China is heavily subsidized by their respective governments, while United States anthracite coal is heavily regulated by the federal government. Senate Resolution 54 calls on Congress and the President to consider placing tariffs on imported anthracite coal in order to assist domestic producers.
Earlier this year, the Senate committee traveled to Pottsville to learn more about unfair international competition and federal regulations that are crippling domestic anthracite production.
Brian Rich of Reading Anthracite summed up the issue best when he said that the United States has a war on coal, while the rest of the world has a war for coal.
Lehigh Anthracite Coal in Tamaqua first suggested that the resolution be drafted.
Read more about my resolution here.
Property tax elimination closer than ever?
Copayment protection measure sent to governor
A bill protecting consumers against paying multiple copayments for physical therapy, chiropractic and occupational therapy services received final legislative approval Tuesday and was sent to the governor.
The Senate concurred on House amendments to Senate Bill 487, which prevents health insurance policies from charging a consumer more than one copayment amount per visit. The bill also prohibit policies from depleting more than one visit for services provided on a given date.
Senate passes bill protecting utility workers during emergencies
The Senate passed legislation on Tuesday that would add electric utility workers to the list of protected workers during disaster emergencies. Senate Bill 765 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Currently, state law provides additional protection for first responders, highway maintenance and construction workers and tow truck operators during emergencies. Motorists are required to travel cautiously at reduced speeds and carefully follow traffic markers, road flares, signs, or directions of emergency responders.
Additionally, emergency service responders may file a written report with the police officer upon observing a violation. Violators may be fined up to $500 per offense and pay restitution costs if warranted.
Other bills approved by the Senate last week include:
Senate Bill 430 expands access to the State Intermediate Punishment Program to those convicted of crimes due to a gambling addiction.
Senate Bill 474 requires Senate confirmation of the Chief Executive Officer of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.
Senate Bill 652 amends the Local Tax Enabling Act to exclude active duty military pay from the existing definition of “earned income.”
Senate Bill 683 strengthens the use of DNA technology to fight violent crime.
Senate Bill 898 amends the Second Class County Code providing for revenue neutrality of taxes following countywide reassessments.
Senate Bill 925 updates the qualification standards for the commercial driver learner’s permit and the commercial driver’s license.
DHS will waive some clearance fees for volunteers as of July 25
I am pleased to report that under a new policy, the state Department of Human Services will waive some fees for mandated state background checks for volunteers beginning July 25.
The policy calls for the waiver of the $10 fees charged for the Department of Human Services child abuse clearance and the Pennsylvania State Police background checks required for volunteers. The Department also announced a reduction of those fees for all other applicants, other than volunteers, from $10 to $8.
Fees for required Federal Bureau of Investigation federal criminal history clearances ($27.50 through the Department of Human Services and $28.75 through the Department of Education) are not affected by the policy change.
For more detailed information about Pennsylvania’s background check requirements, visit www.keepkidssafe.pa.gov or contact my district office at (724) 588-8911.