Legislative Update April 28, 2021

wanted to take the opportunity to highlight legislation that I cosponsored and is on the move through the legislature.  These bills and resolution either recently passed their committees, awaiting a floor vote or passed the House and are in the Senate now.

Local Government Committee

HB221 would permit local government units, that impose a dedicated real estate tax or earned income tax for the preservation and maintenance of land for open space uses, to use a portion of the tax revenue generated for the maintenance of open space lands acquired by other means.  The purpose of this bill is to allow communities to better maintain municipal owned lands used for parks and recreation purposes for residents.

Education Committee

HB358 would allow charter schools to enter into agreements with postsecondary institutions to allow charter students to attend and earn credits at post-secondary institutions through a dual enrollment program.  A dual enrollment program allows high school students to enroll in concurrent college courses through an institution of higher education.  Under state law, only school districts are currently permitted to enter into concurrent enrollment agreements and offer dual enrollment programs to their students. Increasing participation in "advanced coursework, such as dual enrollment" is part of Pennsylvania's Every student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Consolidated State Plan, which was submitted to the U.S. Department of Education on August 1, 2019.  This plan, crafted by members of Governor Wolf's administration, notes that programs like dual enrollment are a "key strategy to help historically underserved students graduate from high school ready for college and careers" and will work to increase the number of students participating in these programs each year.

HB1013 would require the inclusion of Career Technical Education (CTE) certifications on a student’s High School transcript if that student took a National Occupational Competency Testing Institute or Association for Career and Technical Education test and obtained a certification through a state qualified Vocational Technical School.  Employers value these certifications and may give greater consideration (and higher starting pay) to candidates who hold them.

Passed the House

HB48 would require the State Treasurer to develop and maintain on the Treasury Department’s publicly accessible internet website a transparency portal with information relating to the Commonwealth’s finances.  This portal was already created and won awards under the past Treasurer Torsella and this bill would make that a permanent fixture.

HB664 would permit a minor to operate a small business, on an occasional basis, without having to obtain a business license from either the municipality or the homeowners association of a planned community.

HB220 would prohibit drug and alcohol treatment facilities from denying treatment to individuals solely based on a negative drug test.  This bill was introduced by it’s Prime Sponsor because of an unfortunate circumstance in their legislative district where a young man seeking treatment had been clean, but he may have been required to test positive for drug use to commence treatment for his substance use disorder.   He went out and used an opioid to provide a positive drug test and unfortunately suffered an overdose that killed him. 

HB741 would require notification of an emergency contact when a resident leaves a drug and alcohol recovery house.  Currently, unbeknownst to them, their loved one had left or gotten evicted from their recovery house because of relapse and had been out of recovery for weeks or months.  This could be life saving information to have shared.

HB944 similarly to HB741 above, this bill would require notification of an emergency contact when a patient leaves an inpatient treatment facility against medical advice.  Rehabilitation facilities are not required to notify the approved loved one when a person backslides during treatment and discharges themselves against medical advice. The person is often picked up by their dealer or enabler while the family believes they are still safe.  This notification gap has resulted in overdose deaths and young women have also been victimized and lured into prostitution.

HB331 would authorize financial institutions to conduct savings promotion programs (sometimes referred to as Prize Linked Savings), with the goal of encouraging savings and improving financial literacy.