Senator Dan Laughlin E-Newsletter

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Committee Oks Measure Requiring Public Notice of Information Breaches

5/24/21 - Comments on Senate Bill 696

As the General Assembly continues its review of the major data breach by a firm hired by the state for COVID-19 contract tracing, the Senate Communications & Technology Committee approved a bill I sponsored that requires timely public notification when a security breach compromises personal information.

Senate Bill 696 updates the Breach of Personal Information Notification Act to require state agencies victimized by a breach involving personally identifiable information to report the incident to those affected within seven days.

Atlanta-based Insight Global recently acknowledged that it mishandled sensitive information that may have compromised COVID-19 contact tracing data, potentially disclosing the personal information of some 72,000 people.

It is understandable that any agency victimized by a data breach would be embarrassed and reluctant to publicly report the incident, but it is certainly much more important to immediately inform citizens about the theft of their personal information so that they can take steps to protect their assets. The Insight Global case clearly shows the need for the state to act quickly to protect its citizens when a data breach occurs. Read More

Click here for video of the complete committee meeting.

Time to Shine Light on Rx Drug Pricing

5/24/21 – Increasing Prescription Drug Cost Transparency

I joined with my colleague Sharif Street (D-Philadelphia) during a Monday press conference to discussed our bipartisan legislation to require the state Insurance Department to collect and make publicly available data pertaining to the cost of each drug produced by a pharmaceutical company.

 Senate Bill 579 is intended to address the affordability and access to critical medications and the challenge patients, providers, businesses, government health programs and insurers face with the rising costs of prescription drugs, especially the recent development of extremely expensive but valuable drugs.

These drugs are wonderful advancements in improving health care and they may even reduce aggregate costs; at the same time, there is little information available to the consumer as to why they cost so much and almost no ability to negotiate price. While Pennsylvania continues to face many challenges, I hope we can work together to make drug pricing and affordability a priority.  This is truly a bipartisan issue that will help all Pennsylvanians. Read more

Audio of my comments during the press conference. Video of the entire news conference.

Measure to Update Antlerless Hunting License Sales Advances

5/24/21 - Remarks in Senate Bill 431

On Monday, the Senate Game & Fisheries Committee, which I chair, approved my bill to modernize the sales of antlerless deer licenses. Senate Bill 431 provides for the sale of antlerless deer hunting licenses through the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Pennsylvania Automated Licensing System.

This bill takes advantage of current technology to make the system more convenient for Pennsylvania’s hunters. Currently, hunters apply for antlerless deer licenses by sending an application to a county treasurer or similar applications in a timely manner. Because of recent updates to the Automated Licensing System, hunters can have access to a more convenient and efficient way of applying for and receiving hunting licenses.

The bill now goes to the full Senate for consideration.

Click here for audio of my comments on the bill. Click here for video of the Game & Fisheries Committee meeting.

Honoring Those Who Gave All this Memorial Day

I hope you will join me in taking time this weekend to remember our fellow citizens who gave their lives for our nation. Even with everything that has occurred throughout the last year, we can say we live in the greatest nation on earth. Our independence was hard-won, and defended by those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Let us never forget what they did for us.

Senate Approves Regulatory Reform Measures to Spur Job Creation

With Pennsylvania’s employment rate lagging behind those of other states emerging from the pandemic, the Senate approved several bills this week to rein in job-stifling regulations.

The bills increase legislative oversight of a process too often influenced by unelected bureaucrats, adding special scrutiny for the costliest proposed regulations. 

  • Senate Bill 28 – Ensures transparency in permitting. The bill would require all agencies that issue permits to post information about the permits on an accessible tracking system for applicants to check the status of their applications.
  • Senate Bill 126 – Provides for an automatic review after three years of all regulations with an economic impact or cost to the Commonwealth, local governments and the private sector exceeding $1 million.
  • Senate Bill 426 – Provides additional legislative oversight of the regulatory review process. The goal of the legislation is to ensure state agencies are implementing the law and not trying to make the laws themselves.
  • Senate Bill 520 – States that no regulation with an economic impact or cost to the Commonwealth, local governments and the private sector exceeding $1 million can be imposed without approval of the General Assembly.

The bills were sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Measures Aimed at Improving Broadband Access Approved

The Senate approved two measures aimed at bringing high-speed broadband service to more areas of Pennsylvania.

One bill would remove regulatory barriers to broadband deployment for landline telecommunications providers. The legislation would require the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to waive certain regulations, review regulations every three years and eliminate those that are no longer necessary or in the public interest.

A second measure would fund access to broadband by using revenue from renting excess wireless capacity on towers, land, and assets owned by the Commonwealth. The bills were sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Reminder: Changes Coming to Unemployment Compensation System Next Week

The state’s Unemployment Compensation system will complete a major upgrade next week that will require changes in the way that claimants will file for benefits. It is critical for claimants to understand the timeline and new process to file for benefits to avoid any interruption in payments.

The Unemployment Compensation system will be offline from May 30 through June 7 to allow data to be moved from the old system to the new one. No new claims will be processed during this time, and some services will not be accessible during this time. Claimants who are eligible to file a bi-weekly claim from June 3-7 can file May 30 through June 2.

Beginning on June 8, claimants must file for benefits and initial claims at benefits.uc.pa.gov following the same schedule as before. There will no longer be paper forms available; claimants will be required to create a Keystone ID to log into the new UC system. Claimants will still be able to file by phone starting June 10.

More information is available on the Department of Labor and Industry’s FAQ page.

Work Search Requirement for Unemployment Benefits to Resume

The Department of Labor and Industry announced that work search requirements for individuals receiving unemployment benefits will restart the week of July 11, with individuals to begin certifying on July 18 that they have looked for work during the previous week.

As pandemic business closures rocked the job market last year, the department suspended the requirement that claimants actively search for work and register with the PA CareerLink database. In January, without legislative approval or input, the department then extended the suspension indefinitely.

With the pandemic easing and employers desperate for workers, the Senate Labor and Industry Committee approved legislation to reinstate the job search and CareerLink requirements earlier. The bill was sent to the full Senate for consideration.

First 2021 “Fish for Free Day” is May 30

Pennsylvania’s Fish for Free Days are scheduled for May 30 and July 4 this year. They allow residents and non-residents to fish on PA waterways with no fishing license, trout/salmon permit or Lake Erie permit required. All other fishing regulations still apply.

It’s a great opportunity for families to try their hand at a new outdoor activity. Learn about where to borrow fishing tackle, where the best fishing waters are, and more, here.

Tips for Safe Boating

This is National Safe Boating Week, time for some friendly reminders on how to have fun on the water this summer: wear a lifejacket, check the weather forecast, let someone know you’re heading out, and don’t drink and boat.

You can find everything you need to know about boating in PA, including boat titling/registering, boating basics, regulations, safety courses and more here.

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