Senate Democratic Wrap-up for the week of June 7, 2015

 

The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 293, which regulates so-called navigators who provide information and advice on health insurance enrollment options.

Called the “Navigator Accessibility and Regulation Act,” the measure requires those who help enroll citizens in Medicaid or a private insurance plan to register with the Department of Insurance and pass a criminal background check. This is to ensure the safety of a consumer’s private information and to be sure that the navigator is relaying correct information. A “navigator” is an individual who aids and informs the public in health insurance transitions.

This bill was enacted as Act 7 of 2015.

 

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The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 239, which creates the Ready to Succeed Scholarship Act.

This law is designed to help qualifying students pay for books, tuition, living expenses, and other costs. The scholarship amount can range from $500 to $2,000 and can be applied for through Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA). The program was established last year with $5 million in funding and is continuing to be funded this year.

Eligible students attend a state grant-approved college; have an annual income under $110,000, and a GPA (grade point average) of 3.25 or higher.

The bill was enacted as Act 33 of 2015.

 

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The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 396, which would reconstitute Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4) for four years.

The law expired on June 30, 2014, leaving the council to operate under an Executive Order. This legislation would allow PHC4 to continue being an independent state agency.

The council helps inform consumers on up-to-date health care information. Currently, the PHC4 focuses on maintaining low health care cost for consumers. The council collects data on quality and costs of health insurances, as well as informs the legislature of possible future mandates.

The bill is currently in the House.

 

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The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 486, which would amend the Recorder of Deeds Fee Law to help raise funds to demolish dilapidated properties.

This legislation would allow an optional but additional recording fee of $15 for deed and mortgage recordings. The new fee would go towards a demolition of dilapidated properties fund. Any county would be allowed to adopt the demolition funding program and the additional funding would only go towards the demolition of blighted homes.

Similar legislation (SB1427) was passed in 2014 by the Urban Affairs and Housing Committee which is currently where Senate Bill 486 lies.

 

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The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 513, which would amend the Solid Waste Management Act to regulate the transport of liquefied solid waste.

The bill specifies how leachate (liquid that has permeated or drained from solid waste) may be transported and disposed of in both municipal and privately owned landfills. The bill would provide more flexibility to those who transport and dispose of landfill leachate — improving efficiency and saving money. This legislation would not make any changes to the treating requirements of landfill leachate.

The bill is currently in the House.

 

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The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 538, which would toughen licensee reporting requirements.

Due to recent misconduct among licensees, this bill would require license holders to self-report any criminal convictions. All licensees, registrants and certificate holders would be required to report previous crimes and disciplinary actions found against them, by other licensing groups, to the Department of State’s Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs’ 29 licensing boards. Failure to report would result in punitive action.

This legislation grants licensing boards with the same jurisdiction as medical boards and each board would have the ability to suspend a license if there appears to be an immediate danger to the public.

Currently only 11 of the 29 licensing boards require applicants to self-report, and this legislation would require self-reporting as well as give the authority to temporarily suspend licenses. Supporters claim stricter regulations would help prevent wrongful acts.

The bill now goes to the House Professional Licensure Committee.

 

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The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 620, which authorizes the release of Project 70 restrictions on land in Carlisle, Cumberland County. Officials intend to sell the land to build a right-of-way highway. Money made from the sale will then be used to build a park or create open space lands in Carlisle.

The bill was enacted as Act 36 2015.

 

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The Senate unanimously approved House Bill 188, which would amend the Agricultural Area Security Law to allow the use of wind-powered generation systems.

Currently, landowners may install water, sewage, electric, coal and gas or oil lines. This measure would also allow them to install wind-powered generation systems as well. Wind power generation companies would be required to evaluate any effects their generators might have on endangered species. The bill would put specific limitations on the generators to maintain environmental quality and comply with environmental laws.

Following House amendments and unanimous approval, the bill is now in the Senate Rules Committee.

 

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The Senate unanimously passed House Bill 341, which amends current Residential Real Estate Transfers Law (Title 68) to require that property disclosure statements inform the land buyer of the existing storm water equipment and facility conditions.

The bill will require the buyer to be made aware of ongoing maintenance responsibilities including, but are not limited to basins, pipes, ponds, ditches and drains. This legislation would also require that buyers be informed about existing sinkholes.

The bill was enacted as Act 6 of 2015.

 

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