Harrisburg Happenings

A report on the Legislative Session Week of June 8, 2015

Bill Regulating Healthcare Exchange Navigators Sent to Governor

The Senate approved and sent to the Governor on Tuesday legislation that would provide essential protection of consumers’ rights and personal information with regard to navigators and certified application counselors created by the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.”

Senate Bill 293, also known as the Navigator Accessibility and Regulation Act, would require Healthcare Exchange Navigators be certified by the Department of Insurance and pass a criminal background check. The Senate concurred on House amendments to the measure and sent it on to Governor Wolf.

The federal Affordable Care Act relies on individuals, generally called “navigators,” to educate and enroll millions of uninsured Americans in Medicaid or a private insurance plan.  Although in many respects these navigators act like insurance agents, they have almost no qualifications or restrictions placed upon them by the federal statute.

Also sent to the Governor for enactment was House Bill 341, legislation that requires that property disclosure statements provide notification of any sinkholes, the location and condition of defined stormwater facilities, and whether the purchaser is responsible for the ongoing maintenance of the stormwater facilities.  

Senate Approves Blight Remediation Measure

The Senate approved legislation on Tuesday to give counties a new option to finance the demolition of blighted and abandoned properties.

Senate Bill 486 would give counties the option to levy up to an additional $15 fee on deeds and mortgages recorded in the Recorder of Deeds office. The new revenue would be used exclusively for demolition funding within that specific county.

SB 486 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration. Other bills approved by the Senate and sent to the House this week include:

House Bill 188, which amends the Agricultural Area Security Law to provide for wind power generation systems on preserved farmland. The bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.

Senate Bill 329, which codifies the Ready to Succeed Scholarship Program, a new scholarship program administered by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency.

Senate Bill 396, which reauthorizes the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council for a term of four years.  The council, otherwise known as PHC4, expired on June 30, 2014 and is currently performing operations under an executive order from the Governor. PHC4 is an independent state agency that strives to give consumers, purchasers and providers quality comparative data for the purpose of making informed health care decisions.  It has been in existence since 1986.

Senate Bill 513, which allows the vehicular transportation of leachate discharged from a municipal or private landfill’s collection and handling system.

Senate Bill 538, which strengthens licensee suspension reporting requirements for the Department of State’s Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs’ 29 licensing boards.

Senate Considers Cabinet Nominations

The Senate considered several cabinet nominations this week.

On Monday, the Senate confirmed the nomination of John Wetzel as Secretary of Corrections and voted 26-22 to not confirm the nomination of Marcus Brown to serve as State Police Commissioner.

On Tuesday, the Senate confirmed the nominations of Eileen McNulty as Secretary of Revenue and Dr. Rachel Levine as Physician General.

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