Senate Democratic Wrap-up for the Week of February 22, 2015

 

The Senate voted 40-8 for Senate Bill 9, which would require proof of U.S. citizenship for any individual applying for public assistance.

Under the bill, known as the “Proof of Citizenship for Receipt of Public Benefits Act,” the state Human Services Department would be required to verify, through the Systematic Alien Verification of Entitlement, that each non-citizen applicant is legally present in the United States.

Bill supporters claim that illegal immigration creates unfair competition for jobs with American workers, and imposes unnecessary strains on taxpayer-funded services designed to provide assistance to Pennsylvania citizens.

The bill now goes to the House.

 

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The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 166, which would change the state’s expungement law to provide former offenders with a second chance.

Currently, expungement is only available to those who are over 70-years-old and conviction-free for five years.

The bill would allow the expungement of second and third degree misdemeanors under conditions that range from an offender’s age to the amount of time they have gone conviction-free. Bill supporters noted that the bill would help counter high rates of recidivism, relieve an overburdened pardon system, and provide more opportunities for ex-offenders to join the workforce.

Some misdemeanor offenses, ranging from assault to cruelty to animals offenses, would not qualify for exemption.

The bill now goes to the House.

 

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The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 316, which would amends Title 62 (Procurement) by providing public access to procurement records.

Consistent with the Right-to-Know Law, the bill would require purchasing agencies to make procurement documents available on the state Department of General Services website.

The bill was originally introduced last session as SB369. It passed the Senate State Government Committee unanimously, but did not advance further. The bill has now been referred to the State Government Committee in the House.

 

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The Senate voted 30-19 to approve Senate Bill 293, which would establish the Navigator Accessibility and Regulation Act.

The bill would place state regulations on navigators and assisters in promoting and educating Pennsylvanians about health insurance exchanges.

The bill was originally introduced last session as SB 1268 and is an almost identical redraft.

Senate Bill 293 has been referred to the Insurance Committee in the House.

 

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The Senate voted unanimously to approve Senate Bill 179, which would amends Title 48 (Lodging and Housing) by consolidating the statutes pertaining to hotels and other lodging establishments, such as those that allow hotelkeepers to deny accommodation to those refusing to pay, are acting disorderly, or who possess controlled substances or illegal firearms, among others.

These statutes would be consolidated into Chapter 13 of Title 48. The bill is a redraft from the 2013-2014 legislative session. Senate Bill 179 has been referred to the Tourism and Recreational Development Committee in the House.

 

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