Harrisburg Happenings

A report on the Legislative Session Week of September 23, 2013

Senate approves CHIP reauthorization, extension

The Senate approved House Bill 108, legislation reauthorizing and extending the life of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) through December 31, 2015 on Wednesday. The bill returns to the House of Representatives for concurrence on Senate amendments.

Pennsylvania’s CHIP program is one of the Commonwealth’s true success stories and has served as a model for similar programs across the country. Tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians lead healthy and productive lives because of the essential medical services they received as children through CHIP and thousands of young people are today benefitting from the program.

As part of his HealthyPA initiative, Governor Corbett has called on the Legislature to reauthorize the CHIP program and remove the current requirement for children to go six months without insurance before becoming eligible.

Notary law update bill headed to Governor

The Senate approved House Bill 25 on Tuesday. The bill updates Pennsylvania’s notary law to ensure notarizations and acknowledgments are taken reliably and professionally, help prevent fraudulent notarization practices and facilitate electronic commerce. HB 25 now goes to the Governor for his signature and enactment into law.

Aging and Youth Committee approves child protection measures

 The Senate Aging and Youth Committee approved a series of bills to provide sweeping improvements to Pennsylvania’s child protection laws on Tuesday:

Senate Bill 20 updates the definition of “child abuse” and provides exclusions.

Senate Bill 21 clarifies who is a “mandatory reporter” of child abuse.

Senate Bill 22 increases penalties for failure to report child abuse.

Senate Bill 23 updates the definition of “perpetrator” and expands definition of “person responsible for a child’s welfare.”

Senate Bill 27 improves the exchange of information among medical practitioners and county agencies.

Senate Bill 30 establishes accountability and due process protections for individuals working with delinquent children in juvenile detention facilities and residential rehabilitative institutions.

Senate Bill 33 provides employee whistleblower protection for child abuse reporting.

The bills are part of a bipartisan package of legislation introduced following the recommendations of the Pennsylvania Task Force on Child Protection, created by the passage of Senate Resolution 250 in December 2011. The panel held a series of public meetings and released its report in November 2012. The measures now go to the full Senate for consideration. More information and video from the hearing are available at the committee’s website: https://aging.pasenategop.com/.

Committee considers UCC review reform measure

The Senate Labor and Industry Committee held a public hearing on Tuesday to gather testimony on Senate Bill 1023, a measure intended to improve operations of the Review and Advisory Council in the Department of Labor and Industry. The council is responsible for reviewing potential changes to the state’s Uniform Construction Code as proposed by the International Code Council every three years.

The proposal would give the advisory council additional time to fully review and debate the various proposals before reaching a final decision. It would also improve the process by adding additional members to the council with additional areas of expertise that will lend new perspectives to the review process.

More information and video from the public hearing are available at https://laborindustry.pasenategop.com/.

Committees updated on statewide radio effort

The Senate Communications and Technology Committee, the Senate Law and Justice Committee, the Senate Transportation Committee and the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee met on Wednesday to hold a joint public hearing to receive an update on the statewide radio system.

Testifiers included: Major Scott Neal, Director of the Bureau of Communications and Information Systems for the Pennsylvania State Police; Glenn Cannon, Director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency; Cumberland County Commissioner Barbara Cross, representing the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania; and York Area Regional Police Department Chief Thomas Gross, representing the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association.

Video from the hearing is available by clicking here.

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