In this Update:
Celebrating Independence Day in the 47th
I was pleased to be a part of Mars Borough and Zelienople’s Fourth of July parades on Tuesday! Hoping everyone enjoyed not only their time at the parades but with their family and friends as we celebrated the birth of our nation. God Bless America!
Senate Confirms Atty. Maura Palumbi to Serve on Butler County Court of Common Pleas
Maura has actively contributed to making Butler County a better place both inside and outside the courtroom through her service on several nonprofit boards and her work as an Assistant Public Defender. She undoubtedly brings to the bench a wealth of knowledge and experience that will make her an incredible asset to the Court.
PA House Approves Senate Budget Bill – Not Without Controversy
Following the diligent work Senate Republicans put in to pass a bipartisan state budget, the House of Representatives has approved our version of the general state budget bill (House Bill 611), but not without confirmation from Governor Shapiro that he would line-item veto the Pennsylvania Award for Student Success (PASS) scholarship program language once the bill reaches his desk. This has caused much controversy within the General Assembly as Shapiro publicly supported these scholarships and now has reversed course for the time being.
While discussions are still ongoing surrounding this recent development as well as the passage of the main budget bill, I want to thank those who have reached out to my office and voiced their perspectives on the matter of these school-choice scholarships. Your questions and concerns have not gone unheard, and I will keep them in mind as we further deliberate this issue.
We will continue to await legislative action by the House on the remaining budgetary components as we work to enact a responsible spending plan that respects taxpayers and reflects our commitment to provide avenues for our children to continue to receive a quality education.
Helping Children of National Guard and Reserve Members Adjust to New Schools
Legislation that will reduce the educational challenges faced by children of National Guard and Reserve members was unanimously approved by the Senate.
Military families face frequent reassignments, posing educational challenges for children transitioning between schools in different states. Senate Bill 209 would give children of National Guard and Reserve members the same help provided to those of active-duty military families through the Military Interstate Children’s Compact.
The compact provides a consistent set of policies that make getting started in a new school, joining extracurricular activities, facilitating enrollment and meeting graduation requirements as easy as possible for military children.
Senate Protects Sexually Exploited Children, Human Trafficking Victims
The Senate approved legislation to ensure that sexually exploited children who are human trafficking victims always have full access to appropriate services and support.
Under current Pennsylvania law, any minor who is exploited for commercial sex must identify their third-party perpetrator to be considered a victim of human trafficking, unless their purchaser is charged as a trafficker.
Senate Bill 44 would ensure that third-party control is never a consideration for access to victim services. Senate Bill 45 would eliminate the third-party control requirement to access victim services under the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline Notification Act.
Bill to Help Medically Fragile Babies Receives Senate Support
The Senate approved legislation to provide critical care for medically fragile babies by expanding access to pasteurized human donor milk.
Senate Bill 500 would require Medical Assistance coverage for medically prescribed pasteurized human donor milk in both inpatient and outpatient settings for children who are less than a year old. The donor milk must be obtained from a milk bank licensed in Pennsylvania or through a hospital licensure process in accordance with the Keystone Mothers’ Milk Bank Act of 2020.
For very low birth-weight babies and other medically compromised infants, the use of donor milk is a proven, cost-effective way to improve health outcomes and lower health care costs. It protects against serious health complications that can lead to longer hospital stays, multiple medical and surgical procedures, readmissions, lifelong disability or even death.
To qualify for coverage, the child’s mother must be medically or physically unable to produce breast milk in an amount needed to meet the child’s needs.
Senate Passes Bill Authorizing Body Cameras for Parole Agents
Legislation that would authorize state parole agents to wear body cameras was approved by the Senate.
Senate Bill 260 would allow state parole agents of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections to wear body cameras capable of capturing encounters with parolees.
Under current law, state parole agents are not authorized to wear body cameras due to the Wiretap Act’s antiquated language. Other members of law enforcement including deputy sheriffs, municipal police officers and members of the Pennsylvania State Police are authorized.
Bill Reforming Pennsylvania’s Probation System Passes Senate
The Senate passed legislation that would reform Pennsylvania’s probation system to give people a better pathway out of the criminal justice system.
Senate Bill 838 would establish a mandatory probation review conference for probationers, providing criteria for when they occur and a presumption that probation will be terminated unless the individual does not qualify.
It would also permit the review conference to occur earlier based on the good conduct of defendants by achieving certain educational, employment or other goals. A provision to allow for the waiving of the mandatory review conference in cases where all stakeholders agree it is unnecessary is also included.
Please contact me to provide input on any state-related matter, or to receive help in dealing with a state agency.