Bills deal with jobs, doctors, veterans, more
State Sen. David G. Argall, R-29, has released a recap of recent legislative actions:
The Senate and House approved legislation this week to end so-called "triple dipping" of Unemployment Compensation benefits by retirees. The practice involves an individual who collects a public pension or private retirement benefit while returning to temporary work, only to collect unemployment compensation when leaving the job.
Gov. Tom Corbett is expected to sign House Bill 421, a measure prohibiting individuals from collecting unemployment compensation if they leave employment to preserve pension/retirement/annuity benefits.
The Senate Urban Affairs & Housing Committee held a public hearing on Wednesday to listen to both sides of the debate surrounding a proposal dealing with vacant property.
"As chairman of the committee, I believe we need to hear both pros and cons behind the proposal prior to considering it for a vote," Argall said.
The proposal's sponsor, Sen. Anthony Williams, D-8, testified that his bill would define a landlord's liability in instances when a tenant vacates a rental unit and leaves behind personal belongings.
Saying 'I'm sorry'
Health care professionals can again say "I'm sorry" without fear of legal consequences under legislation Corbett signed into law Wednesday.
Senate Bill 379 makes any benevolent gesture made prior to the commencement of a medical liability action by certain health care workers inadmissible as evidence of liability or an admission against interest. A benevolent gesture is defined in the bill as any action that conveys a sense of apology, condolence, explanation, compassion, or commiseration emanating from humane impulses. The new law applies to health care providers and assisted living residence workers who make a benevolent gesture regarding a patient's discomfort, pain, suffering, injury or death.
The bill was approved by House of Representatives on Tuesday and by the Senate on June 25. Thirty-six states, the District of Columbia and Guam have provisions allowing medical professionals to make apologies or sympathetic gestures.
Jobs for vets
Legislation that will expand job opportunities for Pennsylvania's service members and veterans is headed to Governor Corbett's desk for his signature and enactment into law.
The Senate concurred Wednesday on House amendments to Senate Bill 277, legislation regarding state law regarding commercial driver's license qualification standards for members of the armed services.
Currently, military personnel and veterans who have two years of experience driving a military commercial vehicle are eligible to waive the CDL skills test when certain criteria are met. One such requirement states that the applicant is eligible for waiver if the applicant has legally operated certain equipment for at least two years immediately preceding application for a commercial driver's license.
SB 277 strikes "immediately preceding" from the law, providing military personnel and veterans with at least two years of military commercial driving experience the opportunity to apply for a CDL with the possibility of a waiver within five years of their leaving military service.
Hunting, fishing licenses
*The Senate unanimously approved legislation on Monday to offer disabled Pennsylvania veterans reduced-fee hunting and fishing licenses.
Senate Bill 1090 and Senate Bill 1102 reduce the cost of annual hunting and fishing licenses to $1 each for all disabled veterans in the Commonwealth. Currently, Pennsylvania law allows for free hunting and fishing licenses only for veterans who are either certified as 100 percent disabled or who have lost the use of one of their arms or legs.
Any Pennsylvania veteran eligible for disability compensation as determined by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs would qualify for the $1 licenses. Veterans certified as having a total disability would continue to qualify for free licenses. Pennsylvania currently offers $1 hunting and fishing licenses to certain active duty military personnel as well.
Both bills now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.
The Senate approved legislation on Tuesday that will enhance the capacity of the Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners to check the backgrounds of individuals applying for admittance to the Pennsylvania Bar.
Senate Bill 894 requires each applicant be fingerprinted and undergo an FBI criminal records check. The use of an FBI records check will improve the ability of the board to verify criminal histories. It will make it easier for applicants since they will not have to compile criminal records
from multiple states. Application for the bar includes a tight timeframe and some applicants have reported that they have been unable to obtain a records check from certain states within that timeframe.
The Senate approved four local government measures among the bills considered this week:
Senate Bill 497 updates and recodifies the Third Class City Code; Senate Bill 1046 amends the Second Class Township Code to increase the cap on township operating reserves from 5 percent to 25 percent; Senate Bill 1081 amends the First Class Township Code, providing for filing and recording of ordinances;Senate Bill 1082 amends the Second Class Township Code, providing for filing and recording of ordinances.
Other bills approved this week include:
Senate Bill 81 amends the "Volunteer Health Services Act" to allow for the issuance of mental health volunteer licenses to providers of mental health services for military families.
House Bill 88 provides for paid and unpaid military leaves of absences for certain government employees.
House Bill 290 amends the Local Option Small Games of Chance Act of 1988 (P.L. 1262, No. 156) to amend and add definitions, increase prize limits, provide for the licensing and payment of fees, provide for raffle sales and pool selling, provide for locations, and to provide for additional rules and regulations for the licensing of organizations.
Senate Bill 895 reduces the length of each term for members of the Pennsylvania Game Commission's Board of Commissioners, while allowing for multiple terms of continued service.
Senate Bill 1068 provides regulatory relief for the beagle trainers.
House Bill 1098 makes changes to the Local Option Small Games of Chance Act by permitting non-profit organizations affiliated with professional sports teams and racetracks to conduct 50/50 raffles, updating certain reporting requirements for club licensees, and allowing for bars and restaurants to conduct tavern games.