How I Voted

As your elected representative in Harrisburg, I feel it is important to share information about the bills that come before the House, how I’ve voted on those bills, and why I voted the way I did.

On this page, you’ll find a recap of my voting record for the legislative session, with brief descriptions of each bill and brief explanations for my votes. This page does not include summaries of “bridge-namer” bills or other uncontested votes, although you can always find my votes on those here. This page will be updated at the end of each House session week. You can find scheduled session dates and more information here.

While state legislators’ votes are always public record, the reasons behind those votes are not always clear. My goal on this page is to help inform constituents about the bills that come before the House and create more transparency around the legislative process.

If you have questions or would like more information on the bills below or any other legislative issue, please contact my office at repotten@pahouse.net. To find the current status of a bill, click on the bill number, then click “History” on the bill information page.

3/24/2021

HB 803 (O’Neal) - Establishing – Keystone State Challenge Academy Special Fund
How I voted: Yes

Legislation passed in 2018 established the National Guard Youth Challenge Program in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This is a community-based program operated under the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and known in Pennsylvania as the Keystone State Challenge Academy. HB 803 strengthens this program by establishing a nonlapsing fund in the State Treasury, meaning that any funds in the account carry over from one fiscal year to the next, rather than lapsing at the end of a fiscal year and needing to be re-appropriated in the next fiscal budget. This legislation passed the House unanimously, by a vote of 201-0.

HB 491 (Boback) -Exclusion of Veterans' Compensation Benefits from Income Calculations
How I voted: Yes

This bill exempts veterans’ federal disability compensation or pension from income calculations for any program or benefit administered by the Commonwealth that considers income as a condition of eligibility. This would ensure that income from veterans’ benefits would not prevent a military veteran or their surviving spouse from eligibility in programs such as LIHEAP, Property Tax/Rent Rebate, PACE Prescription Assistance, or similar state-run programs. This legislation passed the House unanimously, by a vote of 201-0.

HB 325 (Greiner) - Advisory Opinions from Licensing Boards
How I voted: Yes

Current state law lays out the powers and duties of licensing boards and commissions within the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs, but it does not give these boards and commissions authority to provide advisory opinions to licensees about the meaning or interpretation of an act or regulation. For example, if a licensed professional accountant has a question on whether a certain action is permitted by their licensing board and asks the licensing board for advice, the board or commission cannot currently provide this guidance.

This legislation allows licensing boards to answer inquiries through the form of an advisory opinion, helping licensees avoid violations by giving them a dependable means of determining whether an action is permissible. This legislation passed the House unanimously, by a vote of 201-0.

HB 649 (Rapp) - Creating an Essential Caregiver in Long-Term Care Facilities
How I voted: Yes

Separation from loved ones throughout the COVID-19 pandemic was extremely isolating, confusing, and depressing for many residents of long-term care facilities and their families. This bill directs the PA Department of Health and PA Department of Human Services to create rules to allow one designated essential family caregiver to be named for each resident of a licensed long-term care facility during a declaration of disaster emergency. Under the bill, residents may select a caregiver to provide in-person support, so long as they follow protocols (such as testing and use of safety equipment) designed to protect the residents of the facility. This legislation passed the House unanimously, by a vote of 201-0.

HB 63 (Lawrence) - An Act relating to the administration and distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations in this Commonwealth
How I voted: Yes

HB 63 seeks to improve and expedite vaccine rollout in Pennsylvania, including vaccine distribution to the Southeastern counties. This bill:

  • expands the categories of health professionals permitted to administer the Covid-19 vaccine to include all those covered by the most recent federal declaration
  • sets additional vaccine reporting requirements for the PA Department of Health
  • gives county health departments more control over and involvement in mass vaccination clinics
  • requires more vaccine allocation to the Southeastern “collar counties.”

This bill passed the House by a vote of 135-66.

3/23/2021

HB 245 (Kaufer) - Update to International Medical Graduate Requirements
How I voted: Yes

This bill reduces the graduate medical training required for international medical graduates from 3 years to 2 years, modernizing the licensing process and eliminating unnecessary delays for qualified physicians. In the past, the education provided in international medical schools was not considered equivalent to that provided in the United States. As a result, an additional year of residency training was required. However, international standards have changed for the better, making the existing requirements outdated and overly restrictive. This legislation passed the House unanimously, by a vote of 201-0.

HB 192 (Topper) - Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (IMLC)
How I voted: Yes

In 2016, Pennsylvania joined the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (IMLC), which provides a streamlined process that allows physicians to become licensed in multiple states. However, Pennsylvania has not been able to fully participate in the IMLC because it does not fully comply with the compact’s background check requirement. This legislation corrects that inconsistency by requiring licensed physicians who wish to participate in the IMLC to submit to a national criminal background check rather than just a state criminal background check. This legislation passed the House unanimously, by a vote of 201-0.

HB 183 (Fee) - Farm Succession Planning Grants
How I voted: Yes

This bill allows the PA Department of Agriculture, in consultation with the State Agricultural Land Preservation Board, to use funds in the Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase Fund to issue small grants (up to $5,000) for succession planning on preserved farms. The goal of this bill is to help the next generation of farming families continue agricultural operations on farms preserved under conservation easements. This legislation passed the House unanimously, by a vote of 201-0.

3/22/2021

HB 365 (Harkins) – Removing derogatory terms from Pennsylvania school code
How I voted: Yes

This bill updates language in the Pennsylvania School Code, which was originally written in 1949, to remove derogatory language and terminology related to intellectual, physical, and developmental disabilities. This bill passed the House by a vote of 200-1.

HB 113 (Stambaugh) – Organized Motorcycle Processions
How I voted: No

This bill would allow organized motorcycle processions to proceed past a red signal or stop sign, similar to a funeral procession, without a permit from PennDOT (except in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh). The bill would authorize a designated member of the procession to direct, control, or regulate traffic. I voted No on this bill out of concern for motorcyclists’ safety and potential impact on local municipalities and police departments.

Any procession, whether cars or motorcycles, has the potential to create enormous strain on local police departments, often requiring extra officers on duty to direct traffic and resulting in other logistical challenges and non-budgeted costs. Current PA law requires motorcyclists wishing to organize a procession to apply for a Special Event Permit from PennDOT, allowing the procession route to be reviewed in advance by PennDOT and the affected municipalities for safety concerns or conflicts with other events or construction activities. This process ensures proper traffic control and protection for participants and ensures that the concerns of any affected municipalities are considered.

While HB 113 contains a requirement for procession sponsors to notify municipalities ahead of an event, there is no requirement to notify PennDOT, no requirement for affected municipalities to approve the procession, and no ability for municipalities to prevent the procession from taking place. This bill passed the House by a vote of 157-44.

SB 86 (Martin) – Succession in the Office of District Attorney – Home Rule Counties
How I voted: No

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania allows municipalities and counties to determine the structure and authority of their local governments. Counties and municipalities that opt for “home rule,” as opposed to being governed by the PA municipal code, have the most control over and flexibility in their local decisions.

Under current law, some Pennsylvania counties operating under home rule charter have set their own procedures for filling vacancies in their respective county offices of District Attorney. SB 86 strips home rule counties of this power, requiring them to instead follow the procedures laid out within the County codes section of the PA municipal code for filling District Attorney vacancies.

I voted No on this legislation because I believe local and county governments operating under home rule charter should retain their ability to determine the procedures that best serve the needs of their communities. This legislation passed the House by a vote of 171-30.

SB 85 (Martin) – Succession in the Office of District Attorney – Second Class Counties
How I voted: Yes

Under current law, if a county District Attorney’s office becomes vacant due to death, resignation, removal from office, or other reason, the judges of the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas are directed to appoint “a competent person” to fill the office for the remainder of the term. SB 85 amends the state’s Second Class County Code to require that the judges appoint the county’s first assistant district attorney to fill the vacancy until the next municipal election, as long as the first assistant meets the minimum requirements of the office. This legislation passed the House by a vote of 181-20.

SB 84 (Martin) – Succession in the Office of District Attorney – Second Class A and Third Class Counties
How I voted: Yes

This legislation is essentially the same as SB 85; however, it addresses Second Class A and Third Class counties, whereas SB 85 is strictly for Second Class counties. This legislation passed the House unanimously, by a vote of 201-0.

HB 416 (Quinn) – Seizure Recognition Legislation
How I voted: Yes

This legislation allows (but does not mandate) school nurses and other professional employees of a school district to receive approved online or in-person training in seizure recognition and first aid. This bill requires the PA Department of Health to identify and approve online courses of instruction or in-person trainings and make them available to school personnel at no cost. This legislation passed the House unanimously, by a vote of 201-0.

HB 412 (Gleim) - Substitute Teacher Shortage (day-to-day substitute teachers)
How I voted: Yes

This bill seeks to address Pennsylvania’s substitute teacher shortage by giving school districts more flexibility in hiring day-to-day substitute teachers. The bill allows those with inactive teaching certificates to serve as substitute teacher for up to 180 days per school year, instead of the current limit of 90 days; makes it easier for subs with day-to-day permits to serve in schools, and extends the authorization for prospective teachers enrolled in teacher preparation programs to serve as day-to-day subs. This legislation passed the House unanimously, by a vote of 201-0.

3/17/2021

HB 196 (Day) - Employment Protections for Members of National Guards
How I Voted: Yes

Current Pennsylvania law protects members of the Pennsylvania National Guard and reserve components of the U.S. Armed Forces from discrimination in employment because of their required military duty. HB 196 extends this protection to individuals in Pennsylvania who are members of a National Guard or reserve component of the U.S. Armed Forces in another state. This legislation passed the House unanimously, 201-0.

HB 140 (Maloney) – Protected Pedestrian Plazas and Pedalcycle Lanes (Susan’s and Emily’s Law)
How I Voted: Yes

This bill protects pedestrian and bicyclist safety by establishing requirements for vehicles parking along a designated pedestrian plaza or curbside bike lane. This legislation passed the House unanimously, by a vote of 201-0.

3/16/2021

HB 185 (Struzzi) – Cody’s Law
How I Voted: No

HB 185 would make it an automatic aggravated assault (a felony of the second degree) if a person “attempts to cause or knowingly or intentionally causes bodily injury to an individual with a physical disability, an intellectual disability or an autism spectrum disorder.” While I believe this bill is well-intentioned, it is problematic for several reasons, and I believe the negatives outweigh the positives. This bill passed the House by a vote of 154-58. My reasons for opposing the bill are below:

  • The bill’s sponsor acknowledged that he did not consult disability advocates in drafting this legislation. Disability rights groups have expressed concerns that in many cases, all parties involved in a physical incident involving a person with disabilities may be disabled themselves, meaning that there is a strong likelihood that this legislation would be used to criminalize the actions of disabled individuals more than any other community.
  • This bill does not require knowledge of a person’s disability. Since many disabilities are not visible or apparent by looking at an individual, it is problematic to base the application of this proposed new law—and a potential eight additional years in prison—on invisible characteristics.
  • Current Pennsylvania law distinguishes “bodily injury” (a misdemeanor) from “serious bodily injury” (a felony). HB 185 eliminates the “serious” requirement, automatically treating a simple assault as aggravated, and increasing penalties from up to 2 years in prison to up to 10 years in prison for a single offense.
  • This bill is one of several before us this week that would create “more law, less justice.” Judges and prosecutors already have the ability to consider a victim’s physical or intellectual disability as an aggravating factor in charging and sentencing. (For example, the teens who assaulted Cody Overdorff, for whom this bill is named, were each charged with multiple offenses under existing law, resulting in possible sentences of nearly 10 years.)

HB 163 (Staats) – Upskirting: Justice for Children Victimized in Schools and Elsewhere
How I voted: Yes

This bill elevates the charge for invasion of privacy from a third-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony for teachers or other adults who share or transmit illicit images or videos of students or other minor children. This bill passed the House unanimously, by a vote of 202-0.

HB 156 (Owlett) – Amend the Tender Years Hearsay Act
How I voted: Yes

The “Hearsay Rule” prevents the use of out-of-court statements as evidence in court. Pennsylvania law currently makes an exception to this rule for children 12 years of age and younger, allowing their statements to be entered into evidence without their presence in the courtroom if certain conditions are met. HB 156 raises the hearsay exception age from 12 years to 16 years for certain offenses and under certain circumstances. I voted Yes because, while I understand and have weighed the due process concerns of those opposed to this legislation, I believe 16 years old is still “tender,” particularly for testimony in sexual assault and abuse cases. This bill passed the House 173-29.                                              

HB 146 (Bernstine) – “Markie’s Law”
How I voted: No

HB 146 prohibits parole of an inmate at the expiration of the minimum sentence if the inmate was convicted of certain offenses while incarcerated. At its core, HB 146 is a mandatory minimums/resentencing bill that would add additional years to a sentence after a judge has already sentenced the person. I voted no because sentencing is correctly placed within the purview of the judicial branch of our government—this should not be a legislative role. The Parole Board already has the ability and the authority to consider an incarcerated person’s behavior when considering parole.  The PA Parole Board and the PA Department of Corrections are among the agencies and organizations opposed to this legislation. HB 146 passed the House 144-58.

HB 103 (Schmitt) - Harassment of Law Enforcement Officer
How I voted: No

This bill expands the PA crimes code to create a new offense of harassment of law enforcement officer. I voted No on this bill for several reasons.

First, this bill unnecessarily adds a new criminal offense for actions that could already be charged under current laws surrounding spitting on any person or aggravated assault of a law enforcement officer. I agree with the majority of Pennsylvanians who do not believe that Pennsylvania needs more criminal laws. Second, this bill too loosely defines how knowledge or intent will be “proven.” Given our current political climate, I fear there is too much room for this law to be weaponized against citizens exercising their right to free speech, and too little assurance that this law would be applied fairly or equitably. Third, this bill reinforces false and harmful misinformation about HIV transmission, adding to the fear and stigma too often turned against HIV-positive individuals and the LGBTQ+ community.

Ultimately, in my judgment, this is an unnecessary and deeply flawed bill that creates more potential for harm than for good.

HB 230 (Ryan) – Dynamic Scoring for the Fiscal Impact of Proposed Legislation
How I voted: No

This bill would require the Independent Fiscal Office to include “dynamic scoring” in its revenue estimates for any proposed legislation with an estimated impact of more than $50 million. It’s important to understand two things:

  1. Dynamic scoring, which looks at the estimated macroeconomic impacts of proposed legislation, has often been used to justify huge corporate tax cuts and giveaways, with the promise of substantial expected returns to our economy in the form of jobs, tax revenues, or other economic boosts. If and when those expected returns fail to materialize, there is no means of clawing back the tax forgiveness we’ve extended.
     
  2. There is currently nothing preventing the Independent Fiscal Office from using dynamic scoring as one of the tools it uses to evaluate proposed legislation. But this bill would mandate the use of dynamic scoring.

I voted No because I believe this bill gives undue weight to dynamic scoring and unnecessarily mandates a practice that is already available to be used at the discretion of the Independent Fiscal Office. This bill passed the House 128-74.

2/5/2021

SB 2 (Ward) - Constitutional Amendments - Legislative Approval of Emergency Declarations
How I voted: No

This bill is the Senate version of HB 55, which I voted against in January. This bill seeks to limit the powers of the executive branch during a disaster emergency by giving the legislature the last say over whether a disaster declaration could extend beyond 21 days. I believe this bill is irresponsible and reactionary, and I voted against it. I further explained the reasons for my vote on HB 55 here and here.

HB 326 (O’Neal) – Pennsylvania National Guard Assistance with Distribution of COVID Vaccine
How I voted: Yes

This bill allows the Pennsylvania National Guard to work with the PA Department of Health and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency to develop plans for the establishment and operation of community vaccination clinics in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This legislation passed the House unanimously, 202-0.

HB 187 (Rowe) - Limited Liability for Donating Food Past Recommended Label Codes
How I voted: Yes

This bill expands the current immunity and liability protection for donated food to include to food that is past its labeled shelf-life date but is still safe and fit for human consumption. This bill is similar to a bill I introduced in the 2019-20 legislative session (HB 1950). I voted in favor of this bill, which I hope will help to reduce waste and get safe, nutritious food to those in need. This legislation passed the House unanimously, 202-0.

HB 101 (Gleim) - Providing Agritourism Business with Limited Liability Protection
How I voted: Yes

This bill protects “agrotourism” businesses such as corn mazes and other farm attractions from lawsuits where no party is at fault for injury or damages. As farmers in Chester County and throughout Pennsylvania have turned to agrotourism as a much-needed source of income, farmers face huge liability risks. This legislation requires farm owners to post signs informing visitors of inherent risks and/or have visitors sign a waiver before participating in activities on the property. This bill does not interfere with a visitor’s right to sue if a farm owner acts in a negligent manner. This bill passed the House 142-60.  

SB 109 (Pittman) – COVID-19 Economic Relief
How I voted: Yes

SB 109 brings crucial economic relief to Pennsylvania business owners, renters, schools and more. This bill allocates more than $43 million to Chester County, including funds for impacted restaurants, taverns, hotels, caterers, and others in the hospitality industry; nonpublic schools; career and technical schools; and rent, utilities, and other housing costs. This funding gets money into our communities and helps individuals, families, and local businesses hit hard by the pandemic. This is an important and necessary step in putting us on the road to recovery. This legislation passed the House unanimously, 202-0.

2/4/2021

HB 284 (Metcalfe) – Archives Legislation
How I voted: Yes

This bill updates and modernizes sections of the Pennsylvania Historical & Museums code pertaining to archival records. This legislation adds language concerning the protection and recovery of historical Commonwealth and local government records and opens access to older public records after 75 years. The bill passed the House unanimously, 202-0.

HB 203 (Toohil) – Living Donor Protection Act
How I voted: Yes

This bill creates the Living Donor Protection Act and protects living organ donors by providing for family and medical leave and prohibiting unfair insurance discrimination. The legislation prohibits insurers from declining or limiting coverage or engaging in other discriminatory actions based solely on a person's status as a living donor. The bill also requires employers subject to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to provide live donors with access to leave related to organ or tissue donation. The bill passed the House unanimously, 202-0.

HB 178 (James) – Lengthening Time Periods for Unemployment Compensation Appeals
How I voted: Yes

This bill increases the period of time for both claimants and employers to appeal Unemployment Compensation determinations. The bill extends the appeal window from the current 15 days to 21 days. This legislation passed the House unanimously, 202-0.

HB 186 (Causer) - Milk Hauling Legislation  
How I voted: No

This bill exempts milk haulers from travel restrictions on highways during a declaration of disaster emergency. The same legislation moved through the legislature in 2019 as HB 915 and was vetoed by Governor Wolf. While I appreciate that milk production does not stop for a snowstorm, the governor already has the power to modify the provisions of an emergency declaration on any or all highways, effective hours, and all types of classes or vehicles. I believe this power is properly placed within and should remain within the executive branch. This legislation passed the House 125-77.

1/27/2021

HB 108 (Owlett) - Bipartisan Reforms to Prevent Fraud and Stop Improper Payments
How I voted: Yes

This bill establishes a Do-Not-Pay Initiative in the PA Treasury Department for the purpose of preventing fraud by monitoring improper payments across Commonwealth agencies. The Do-Not-Pay Initiative created by the bill stops state funds from going to any individual, entity, or organization deemed ineligible to receive funds. This bill passed the House unanimously, 202-0.
 

HB 104 (Gaydos) – Preventing Improper Payments Within State Programs
How I voted: Yes

This bill improves government accountability by providing for the assessment of improper payments by Commonwealth agencies and for public information on payments and programs of Commonwealth agencies. This bill passed the House 182-20.

HB 55 (Grove) - Constitutional Amendment - Limiting Emergency Declarations to 21 days w/ legislative approval
How I voted: No

This bill seeks to limit the powers of the executive branch during a disaster emergency by giving the legislature the last say over whether a disaster declaration could extend beyond 21 days. I believe this bill is irresponsible and reactionary, and I voted against it. I further explain the reasons for my vote here and here. This bill passed the House 116-86.

HB 14 (Gregory) - Civil Sex Abuse (Former HB 963)
How I voted: Yes

House Bill 14 seeks to amend the state constitution to temporarily lift the statute of limitations for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse, allowing them to file civil suits. This bill passed the House with strong bipartisan support, 187-15, and was expected to easily pass the Senate; however, because of a technical oversight by the Department of State, the legislature is now considering other options for temporarily lifting the statute to ensure that justice for adult survivors is not further delayed.