Senator Laughlin E-Newsletter

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Harrisburg Happenings

A report on the Legislative Session Week of April 26, 2021

Dear Friend,

I am pleased to send you my Session Wrap Up e-newsletter. This e-newsletter features events and legislative activities during the Session Week of April 26, 2021.

If you find this e-newsletter useful, I invite you to visit my website for more information about your state government. If you do not wish to receive these e-newsletters, please click the “unsubscribe” button at the bottom of the page.  If you would like to contact my office, please go to my web page and click the “contact” button.  Please do not “reply” directly to this e-mail.


Dan Laughlin

Senate Approves Bill to Preserve Access to Ventilator Services

The Senate voted on Wednesday to preserve access to ventilator and tracheostomy care for hundreds of patients in Pennsylvania.

Senate Bill 108 would dedicate additional Medicaid funding to facilities that serve a substantial number of patients who require ventilator or tracheostomy care. Roughly 700 patients in Pennsylvania receive Medicaid-covered ventilator or tracheostomy care in a nursing home in any given month, but that number could climb even higher in the months ahead due to COVID-19.

Medicaid currently does not reimburse providers for all of the additional expenses that ventilator and tracheostomy patients incur, including specialized equipment, supplies and staff costs. Many providers, including LECOM at Presque Isle, face the prospect of limiting or eliminating services for these patients.

The bill was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration. 

Senate Hits the Brakes on PENNDOT’s Bridge Tolling Plan

The Senate approved legislation on Tuesday to reform the Public-Private Transportation Partnership (P3) statute and to void the PENNDOT plan to toll nine Pennsylvania bridges. Senate Bill 382, which passed with a bipartisan vote of 28-19, voids the tolling plan and provides for more transparency and public participation in the future.

Senate Bill 382 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration. Other bills approved by the Senate and sent to the House this week include:

Senate Bill 74, which would allow companies to apply for a tax credit after donating to a Pennsylvania pediatric cancer research hospital. 

Senate Bill 83, which creates grants to establish fire training programs for students in high school.

Senate Bill 106, which amends the state Constitution to allow gubernatorial candidates to select their running mate.

Senate Bill 190, which allows for Designated Essential Family Caregivers in Long-Term Care Facilities.

Senate Bill 425, which amends the Mcare Act providing for informed consent.

Senate Bill 434, which provides for milk “sell by date” and “best by date” labeling.

In addition, the Senate gave final approval to House Bill 110 and sent the measure to the Governor’s desk. The bill changes the composition and terms of membership of the Hardwoods Development Council.

Committee Roundup

Aging & Youth

The Senate Aging & Youth Committee approved two bills on Wednesday. Video

House Bill 464 amends the Family Caregiver Support Act to align the state Caregiver Support Program with federal standards.

Senate Bill 484 adds a member of the State Veterans Commission to the Pennsylvania Long-Term Care Council.


In addition to Senate Bill 74, Senate Bill 382, Senate Bill 425 and Senate Bill 434, The Senate Appropriations Committee approved two additional bills on Tuesday Video

Senate Bill 147 requires employers having a certified safety committee as part of their workers’ compensation program to include information about the risks associated with the use of opioids.

Senate Bill 156 creates a new category under Medical Assistance for Workers with Disabilities.

Appropriations and Education

The Senate Appropriations Committee and the Senate Education Committee held a joint public hearing on Thursday to receive an update on the State System of Higher Education. Video

Communications & Technology

The Senate Communications & Technology Committee held a public hearing on Wednesday on the expansion of 5G and small cell wireless infrastructure. Video

Community, Economic & Recreational Development

The Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee approved Senate Bill 243 on Wednesday. The bill allows volunteer fire departments, veterans organizations and other non-profits to conduct online small games of chance fundraisers during the COVID-19 disaster emergency declaration. Video 

Environmental Resources & Energy

The Senate Environmental Resources & Energy Committee and the House Environmental Resources & Energy Committee held a public hearing on Alternate Septic Systems – Act 34 Implementation. Video

The Senate Environmental Resources Committee approved Senate Bill 119 on Tuesday. The bill prohibits the Department of Environmental Protection from joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative – or any similar pact — without Legislative approval. Video

Health & Human Services

The Senate Health & Human Services Committee held a public hearing on Monday on the use of Lyme Disease funding by the Department of Health and Department of Environmental Protection. Video 

Intergovernmental Operations

The Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee approved six bills on Tuesday. Video

Senate Bill 28 requires all agencies that issue permits to increase transparency throughout the process.

Senate Bill 32 includes several regulatory reform measures.

Senate Bill 126 provides for a one-time automatic review of all economically significant regulations.

Senate Bill 426 provides additional legislative oversight of the regulatory review process.

Senate Bill 520 requires General Assembly approval of all regulations with an economic impact or cost to the Commonwealth, to its political subdivisions, and to the private sector exceeding $1 million.

Senate Bill 533 prohibits the consideration or adoption of a proposed or final rulemaking subject to the Regulatory Review Act during the existence of a disaster emergency, unless the action is directly related to responding to the disaster emergency or adhering to a state or federal statutory timeline or court order.

Labor & Industry

The Senate Labor & Industry Committee approved four bills on Tuesday. Video

House Bill 178 increases the time allotted to appeal the determination of an Unemployment Compensation (UC) Service Center and the decision of a UC referee from 15-days to 21-days.

Senate Bill 319 clarifies language in the Worker’s Compensation Act in consideration of the state Supreme Court’s decision in Whitmoyer v. WCAB (Mt. Country Meats).

Senate Bill 486 provides military personnel and their spouses with preference for placement into job training programs.

Senate Bill 563 requires the Department of Labor & Industry to update the Fire and Panic Act to include family daycare facilities and require that smoke detectors be interconnected.

Law & Justice

The Senate Law & Justice Committee approved four bills on Tuesday. Video

House Bill 425 allows a liquor license holder that is permanently closing to sell their remaining stock of wine and liquor to a license holder that is qualified to sell the products.

House Bill 427 increases the discounted price for liquor license purchases from 10 percent to 15 percent.

Senate Bill 503 expands the Pennsylvania Heart and Lung Act to include several law enforcement entities that are not currently protected by this coverage.

Senate Bill 566 addresses the sales of expired restaurant liquor licenses.

Legislative Reapportionment Commission

The Legislative Reapportionment Commission met on Monday Video and Tuesday Video to interview individuals who applied to Chair the Commission.

Local Government

The Senate Local Government Committee approved five bills on Wednesday. Video

Senate Bill 477 amends the Consolidated County Assessment Law to more precisely define changes to real property that could occur without authorizing the assessment office to adjust an assessment, and to increase the value of other improvements that may occur before the assessment office is required to be notified.

Senate Bill 478 authorizes political subdivisions and authorities to enter into contracts for services when two consecutive advertisements fail to induce bids.

Senate Bill 479 provides for the responsibilities of coordinators and receivers appointed to assist financially distressed municipalities by requiring compliance with ethics statutes.

Senate Bill 480 makes various changes to the Borough Code.

Senate Bill 524 amends the Home Rule Law.

Performance-Based Budget Board

The Performance-Based Budget Board held a public hearing on Monday to review a variety of state tax credit programs. Video  The Board held a public hearing on Tuesday on PENNDOT and the Department of Human Services. Video The Board held a public hearing on Wednesday on the State Police and the Department of Military & Veterans Affairs. Video 

State Government

The Senate State Government Committee approved five bills on Tuesday. Video

House Bill 104 requires agencies to assess improper payments on any program which is not required under federal law.

House Bill 108 establishes the Do-Not-Pay Initiative.

Senate Bill 312 reforms the Right-to-Know law.

Senate Bill 552 allows agencies to petition the Office of Open Records for relief from vexatious requestors.

Senate Bill 554 amends the Sunshine Act to require that agencies make their meeting agendas available to the public and to bar agencies from acting on any item not listed on the notice — except in emergency situations or to consider matters that are de minimis in nature.

The committee also re-referred Senate Bill 166, which authorizes the Department of Drug & Alcohol Programs to impose fees for substance abuse treatment facilities and activities, to the Senate Health & Human Services Committee for consideration.

Urban Affairs & Housing

The Senate Urban Affairs & Housing Committee approved two bills on Wednesday. Video

Senate Bill 157 creates First-time Homebuyers Savings Accounts.

Senate Bill 439 removes the sunset provision of Act 152 of 2016, which allows counties to enact a fee of up to $15 through the Recorder of Deeds office to support demolition programs.

Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness

The Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee held a public hearing on fire and EMS accomplishments and approved five measures on Wednesday. Video

Senate Resolution 96 directs the Legislative Budget & Finance Committee to conduct a performance audit of the Pennsylvania’s 911 System.

Senate Bill 150 increases the monthly pension amounts for the Blind Veterans Pension Program and the Amputee and Paralyzed Veterans Pension Program from $150 to $180.

Senate Bill 461 requires Senate confirmation of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency Director.

Senate Bill 550 amends the Second–Class County Code to ensure proper upkeep of the graves of Pennsylvania veterans.

Senate Bill 556 ensures that first responders and National Guard Members who die from COVID-19 are covered under the Emergency and Law Enforcement Personnel Death Benefits Act.

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