How I Voted

Last updated Oct. 15, 2021

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 “bridge-namer” bills or summaries of other uncontested votes (including some bills that pass the House unanimously), although you can always find my votes on those 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. We will update this page as quickly as we can following the end of each session week.

To find the current status of a bill, click on the bill number, then click “History” on the bill information page. You can find scheduled session dates and more information here. 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.

10/6/2021

HB 488 [Boback] – Providing for the Offense of Endangering Children
How I voted: No [Bill passed the House 155-44]

This bill would create a new offense for failure to report the disappearance of a child to a law enforcement agency within 24 hours, classifying it as child endangerment. However, endangerment of a child is already criminalized and punishable under existing Pennsylvania law.

HB 488 is unnecessary, duplicative legislation. The 24-hour figure is arbitrary, and the bill fails to define when the 24-hour clock would begin ticking (When the parent leaves for work? When the parent drops the child at the home of a friend or caregiver?), raising concerns that the law could be weaponized in shared custody arrangements or disputes.

HB 930 [Schlegel-Culver] – National Missing and Unidentified Persons System
How I voted: Yes [Bill passed the House 190-9]

This bill would require law enforcement agencies to deliver DNA samples of missing children, high-risk missing persons and unidentified decedents to the Pennsylvania State Police for DNA analysis and submission to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUS), with the goal of resolving missing-persons cases and bringing closure to families and loved ones. (Samples would be collected from personal items or biological relatives of missing persons.)

If this legislation is enacted, Pennsylvania will join several nearby states, including New York and New Jersey, in requiring that DNA profiles be submitted to NamUs.

HB 1196 [Ecker] – Cases Challenging State Statutes
How I voted: No [Bill passed the House 113-86]

This bill would give either or both the House and Senate standing to intervene as parties in judicial proceedings challenging the constitutionality of state laws.

This is an unnecessary intrusion of the legislative branch into the judiciary and would allow legislative caucuses to spend taxpayer dollars to defend laws that promote their political agendas. The Attorney General and Governor’s office have the standing needed to defend statutes.

HB 1332 [Lewis] – Empowering Parents with Curriculum Transparency
How I voted: No [Bill passed the House 110-89]

This bill would require school districts to post all curriculum and educational materials online, including an internet link or title for every book used by the school.

I voted against this legislation for several reasons. The Pennsylvania School Code already gives parents and guardians access to curriculum materials, including academic standards, instructional materials, and assessment techniques. The bill’s definition of educational materials is vague, and the requirement to post every instructional material online is overly burdensome and impractical for schools and educators. Given that parents and guardians already have the ability to access curriculum materials, requiring schools to make this information available to parties outside the school community is an invitation for censorship in the guise of transparency.

HB 1829 – [Ecker] – Work Permits for Minors
How I voted: Yes [Bill passed the House 198-1]

This bill gives minors the option to get work permits approved remotely without having to appear in person before an issuing officer. These requirements were waived as part of the COVID emergency declaration, and it makes sense to permanently continue this flexibility.

10/5/2021

HB 1642 [White] -- Expanding School Tuition Tax Credits
How I voted: No [Bill passed the House 116-84]

This bill would change the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) supplemental scholarship program for students attending an economically disadvantaged school by increasing the scholarship amount, lowering the threshold to qualify as an economically disadvantaged school, and moving the supplemental scholarships from the OSTC program to the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program.

While this bill does not directly increase the EITC cap, it adds language to make an open-ended exception for whatever amount is needed to meet the obligations of the scholarships, which could amount to a blank check for the expansion of the EITC program and the redirection of more public tax dollars to nonpublic schools.

10/4/2021

HB 1893 [Staats] – Updates to the Disease Prevention and Control Act of 1955
How I voted: No [Bill passed the House 113-87]

This bill would open health records on a number of conditions to Right-to-Know requests. This is a troubling piece of legislation that would invade Pennsylvanians’ privacy and create a chilling effect on day-to-day public health work. If private health information becomes sharable under the Right-to-Know law, Pennsylvanians’ may be hesitant to share that information with health officials. If this bill becomes law, Pennsylvania would be the only state to subject public health and disease records to such public disclosure.

9/29/2021

HB 1861 (Lewis) – Extension of COVID regulatory waivers
How I voted: Yes [Bill passed the House 199-0]

This bill temporary extends nearly 500 regulatory waivers made by state agencies throughout the pandemic, including waivers related to telemedicine, occupational licensing, and public meeting requirements. The waivers will now be in place through March 31, 2022. For a complete list of the regulations extended by this bill, click here.

9/28/2021

HB 591 (Zimmerman) – Amendments to Clean Streams Law
How I voted: No [Bill passed the House 115-84]

This bill would allow construction sites that result in land disturbance of more than one acre and less than five acres to waive discharge permit requirements. I first voted against this bill when it came before the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee in June.

HB 591 would allow oil and gas infrastructure projects in densely populated areas (like many in the 155th Legislative District) to operate without a discharge permit. We have unfortunately seen numerous occasions when operators dumped drilling mud into trout-stocked streams or stormwater management systems. I voted no because this legislation fails to protect densely populated areas that are significantly impacted by these projects. 

HB 1350 (James) – Amending Borough Code
How I voted: Yes [Bill passed the House 196-3]

This bill modernizes the state law governing boroughs, making it more consistent with the law governing first class townships. It gives boroughs greater flexibility to contract for management services and removes the requirement that a preliminary budget be prepared at least 30 days prior to adoption of a budget. 

HB 1350 provides further consistency among municipalities and gives jurisdictions such as the Borough of Phoenixville greater flexibility in administrative procedures.

9/22/2021

HB 1660 (Sonney)— Amending the Temporary Emergency Provision in the School Code
How I voted: No (Bill passed the House 118-82)

Current law allows a school board dealing with an unforeseen emergency to enact temporary emergency provisions for a period of up to four years. This legislation amends the school code by limiting the board’s temporary emergency powers to 60 days. I voted against this bill because it removes local control and too narrowly restricts the ability of school boards to respond to an emergency.

As defined in the bill, an emergency means an event that prevents a school building from opening, including communicable health issues, hazardous weather, law enforcement emergency, damage to school building, or other temporary circumstance rendering any portion of a school building unfit or unsafe for use.

In the midst of a global pandemic that has lasted far longer than 60 days, and in a time when Pennsylvania’s school buildings have been begging the legislature for the funds they need to repair and remediate mold, lead, asbestos, and other egregiously unsafe conditions, we cannot take away board directors’ authority or ability to respond, adapt, and keep their school communities safe.

9/21/2021

HR 139 (Labs) –Resolution extending the Hurricane Ida Disaster Emergency
How I voted: Yes (Bill passed the House 201-0)

The constitutional amendment approved by Pennsylvania voters in the May 2021 primary limits gubernatorial disaster declarations to 21 days. This left Governor Wolf’s disaster declaration for Hurricane Ida set to expire on September 21, with thousands of Pennsylvania residents still dealing with damaged businesses, uninhabitable homes, and road or bridge closures.

This is the first time the General Assembly has opted to use its new power to extend a disaster declaration, with House and Senate leadership having allowed Wolf’s opioid emergency declaration to expire in August without a vote.

I voted in favor of this resolution to extend the disaster declaration through October 27 because the cleanup from Hurricane Ida is far from complete. If the disaster response is still ongoing at the end of October, the General Assembly would need to vote again to further extend the declaration in order to ensure that PEMA and our impacted counties—including Chester County—can continue to receive the support they need.

HB 184 (Keefer) – Causing or Aiding Suicide ("Shawn's Law")
How I voted: No (Bill passed the House 152-49)

HB 184 requires the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing to establish a sentence enhancement for causing or aiding suicide when, at the time of the offense, the person who died by suicide was under 18 years old or had an intellectual disability.

The incident that led to the creation of this bill was deeply tragic, and I understand the impulse to react with this legislation. However, causing or aiding suicide is already heavily criminalized in Pennsylvania. At its most severe, this offense is already punishable by death or life without parole. This bill is poorly drafted, in that it fails to adequately define or clarify the situations under which it would apply. If the legislature wishes to enact sentencing enhancements this severe, we have a responsibility to ensure that the scope and limits of the legislation are clearly defined.

I voted No on this bill because it limits and restricts judicial discretion, is vague in its language and definitions, and bases punishment on the age and ability of the victim rather than on the intent or brutality of the crime.

 

6/25/2021

SB 255 (Browne) – State budget, Fiscal year July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022
How I voted: No (Bill passed the House 140-61)

Although this budget includes increased funding for education and level-funding for many environmental funds and other state programs, it falls far short of our obligation and ability to fully fund our schools and help Pennsylvanians and small businesses truly recover from the COVID pandemic. Furthermore, it irresponsibly leaves BILLIONS of dollars in revenue unallocated and unaccounted for. For these reasons, I voted No.

With $7 billion in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds and more than $3 billion in greater-than-expected state revenues, the General Assembly had a once-in-a-generation opportunity this year to invest in Pennsylvania and put us on a path for economic recovery and strong tax revenues for the next fiscal year. Instead, we are curling up in the fetal position, squirreling away money, and waiting for the next shoe to drop.

The budget leaves 85% of our federal ARP funds unused, sending about $2.6 billion in federal funds to the state’s Rainy Day fund and leaving $2.7 billion unallocated in the General Fund for undisclosed purposes. We backfilled budget holes from the last legislative session, but we failed to make the responsible investments in our economy that would have helped our restaurants and small businesses right now and prevented the same holes in next year’s budget.

Read more in my full
budget statement and budget priorities statement.

6/23/2021

SB 664 (Corman) – Optional Year of Education Due to COVID-19
How I voted: Yes (Bill passed the House 201-0)

SB 664 gives parents the option to have their child repeat a grade level during the 2021-2022 school year. This legislation also gives parents the option to extend special education enrollment through the 2021-2022 school year for students who reached 21 years of age on or after the issuance of the proclamation of disaster emergency in March 2020. This bill is intended to ensure that students do not lose educational opportunities due to COVID-19.

HB 1302 (Mako) – Solid Waste Management Act
How I voted: Yes (Bill passed the House 199-2)

This bill amends the Solid Waste Management Act (Act 97 of 1980) to require the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to notify municipalities when certain violations occur. Under current law, if the DEP receives a notice of noncompliance about a facility from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the DEP is under no obligation to share the information with the municipality where the violation occurred. This legislation requires DEP to forward the notice of noncompliance from EPA to the affected municipality within 14 calendar days.

SB 618 (Phillips-Hill) – Prohibiting the requirement of vaccine passports in Pennsylvania
How I voted: No (Bill passed the House 112-89)

SB 618 prevents any Commonwealth agency, local government, or institution of higher education from requiring documented COVID-19 vaccination for entry into a facility or location. This legislation also blocks the Secretary of Health from implementing public health measures to protect Pennsylvanians from contagious diseases.

I voted no because this legislation impedes the ability of our public health officials to do their job of protecting Pennsylvanians. Requiring proof of immunization against communicable diseases is nothing new – Pennsylvania has had
laws on the books for decades. Our youngest and most vulnerable citizens depend on vaccine requirements to keep them safe. For video of my remarks on this legislation during the House debate, click here.

6/22/2021

SB 89 (Pittman) – Repeal: Balanced Multimodal Transportation Policy Commission
How I voted: Yes (Bill passed the House 201-0)

This bill repeals a section of the PA Transportation Code (section 2107 of Title 74) in order to eliminate an inactive state commission, the Balanced Multimodal Transportation Policy Commission.

HB 1452 (Cutler) – Flexibility in Emergency Publication of the Pennsylvania Bulletin
How I voted: Yes (Bill passed the House 201-0)
This bill adds the Pennsylvania Bulletin to the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act and allows for its different publication as circumstances require.

6/15/2021

HB 975 (DelRosso) – Protecting Elders and Other Care-Dependent Adults from Sexual Assault

How I voted: No (Bill passed the House 170 – 32)

This bill amends Pennsylvania’s criminal statute by creating a new offense of sexual assault by a caretaker of a care-dependent person. To be sure, sexual assault against a care-dependent person—like any sexual assault—is a serious and reprehensible offense, and existing Pennsylvania law reflects that severity. House Bill 975 is problematic, as it assumes that all care-dependent individuals, who may be care-dependent for any number of reasons related to their physical or cognitive ability, are incapable of giving consent.

Engaging in sexual intercourse or deviant sexual intercourse with a person who is incapable of giving consent already falls within the state’s existing rape and involuntary deviant sexual intercourse statutes, which carry severe penalties and up to lifetime sex-offender registration. This bill is one of many new proposals this legislative session that may have the appearance of being “tough on crime,” but are not actually smart on crime. I voted no because the bill fails to provide any substantial new protections for care-dependent individuals, because the conduct addressed in this bill is already covered by existing criminal statutes, and because the bill fails to recognize care-dependent individuals as equal members of and participants in society, who in many cases are fully capable of consent.

6/14/2021

HB 1428 (Masser) – Placement of Electronic Monitoring Devices
How I voted: No (Bill passed the House 160-42)

HB 1428 would allow residents of long-term care nursing home facilities or their guardians to install video surveillance devices in the resident’s room. I share the concerns expressed by the PA Department of Aging about allowing another individual, even a guardian, to make a decision that infringes on an older adult’s privacy and potentially exposes that adult and their roommate(s) in vulnerable or intimate situations. I also have concerns about the privacy rights of residents’ roommates, visitors, and guests.

During discussion of this bill in Aging Committee, my colleagues and I raised multiple questions about the legislation’s practical and ethical implications. While I supported an amendment that improves the bill by removing the ability of an individual with power of attorney to install a device in a resident’s room, ultimately too many of my other concerns about the legislation remain unaddressed, and I voted No.

6/7/2021

HB 253 (Owlett) - Establishing a Task Force on Opioid Abuse Epidemic's Impact on Infants and Children
How I voted: Yes (Bill passed the House 201-0)

This bill authorizes the establishment of a Task Force that will focus on the impact the opioid abuse epidemic is having on children, with the objective of improving the safety and well-being of substance-exposed infants and other young children adversely affected by their parents’ substance abuse disorders.

HB 1024 (Schemel) – Medical Cannabis Law Revisions
How I voted: Yes (Bill passed the House 164-38)

This bill updates and revises Pennsylvania’s medical cannabis law by adopting some of the recommendations offered in the Dept. of Health’s two-year review of the medical cannabis program. Among other changes, the legislation modernizes definitions and codifies several provisions that were in place under the COVID-19 emergency order, including allowing dispensaries to provide limited on-site outdoor pickup, remote consultations, and medical dosages for no more than 90 days’ supply.

5/25/2021
 

HB 1144 (Causer) – Conventional Oil & Gas Act
How I voted: No (Bill passed the House 113-88)

HB 1144 is yet another example of placing the profits of corporate polluters over the health and constitutional rights of Pennsylvanians and our communities. Among several other egregious provisions, HB 1144 rolls back protection of water supplies, weakens protection of public resources, allows more spills to go unreported, and allows the spreading of untreated oil and gas wastewater to de-ice and suppress dust on dirt and gravel roads in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania drilling activities produce some of the most carcinogenic wastewater in the nation. Pennsylvania already has some of the weakest laws to protect people, communities, and the environment from the disposal of this wastewater, and HB 1144 would take us back decades in terms of environmental and public health protections.

I spoke in opposition to HB 1144 in the House chamber. View my remarks
here.

HB 1154 (Masser) – Legislation to make Mixed Drinks To Go permanent
How I voted: Yes (Bill passed the House 187-14)

Take-out and to-go orders, including to-go cocktails, provided a much-needed source of income for local restaurants throughout the pandemic and have remained a popular option even as restrictions have eased. I voted Yes on this bill to enable businesses to continue to provide this option for customers and continue to make up for funds lost during the COVID crisis.

HB 1096 (Kaufmann) - Reforming Venue for Human Trafficking Victims to Sue Their Offenders
How I voted: Yes (Bill passed the House 201-0)

HB 843 (Rowe) – Protecting Victims of Human Trafficking
How I voted: Yes (Bill passed the House 201-0)

HB 580 (Schroeder) - Expert Testimony in Sexual and Domestic Violence Cases
How I voted: Yes (Bill passed the House 201-0)

HB 246 (Mihalek) – Protecting Human Trafficking Victims
How I voted: Yes (Bill passed the House 201-0)

HB 753 (Jozwiak) – Increasing Grading for Trafficking of Infants
How I voted: Yes (Bill passed the House 196-5)

This bill raises the penalty for trafficking in infant children from a misdemeanor of the 1st degree (maximum of 5 years imprisonment and $10,000 fine) to a felony of the 1st degree (maximum 20 years imprisonment and $25,000 fine) and defines an "infant" as a child one year of age or under. (The existing statute does not define “child” or “infant.”)

HB 231 (Mustello) – Expanding list of prohibited activities
How I voted: No (Bill passed the House the House 184-17)

This bill expands the list of prohibited activities that constitute the crime of unlawful contact with a minor. While I believe that some portions of this bill are well-intended, I voted No because the overall impact of the bill is problematic. HB 231 creates 18 new criminal offenses by adding a new element to 18 existing offenses. Every crime listed within this bill is already an existing criminal offense, and 11 of the 18 already increase the grading of the crime if committed against a minor.

Creating separate offenses allows prosecutors to charge two separate offenses for the same act, once under the existing statutes and then separately under Section 6318(a) of Title 18. This would result in an escalation of penalties and could result in felony convictions and sexual offender registration for non-sexual and non-felony offenses. More information is 
available at ACLU PA.

Further, my Republican colleagues voted down an attempt to amend this bill by removing homosexuality from the state’s obscenity statute, meaning that undefined “acts of homosexuality” are included as a criminal offense.


HB 1130 (C. Williams) – Sexual Offender Registration
How I voted: No (Bill passed the House the House 186-15)


HB 1147 (Gaydos) – Sex Offender Treatment
How I voted: No (Bill passed the House the House 183-18)


HB 1130
and HB 1147 add non-sexual offenses, specifically human trafficking offenses, to the Megan’s Law sex offense registry and expand the list of sexual offenses that require offenders to attend and participate in Department of Corrections programs of counseling or therapy designed for incarcerated sex offenders.

Here again, I understand that these bills are well-intentioned; however, the sentencing does not address the root causes of the crime. Human trafficking offenses are extremely serious offenses and are treated accordingly under existing Pennsylvania law. HB 1130 and HB 1147 make the assumption that all human trafficking is sexual trafficking, which is simply not the case. Children are, tragically, trafficked for many different reasons, including illegal adoption, farm work, and domestic work. The psychological factors that drive human trafficking are simply not the same as the factors that drive sexual assault.

As ACLU PA notes, offenders convicted of human trafficking are not necessarily sex offenders, and these crimes require different approaches to sentencing, counseling, and treatment. Requiring human trafficking offenders to complete specialized treatment for which they have no medical need or diagnosis takes spots in these extremely limited programs from those who truly need them, causing unintended risks to the communities we want to protect.

Additionally, Megan’s Law is designed to let people know who lives in their community, and traffickers frequently prey on victims who live in vulnerable communities, sometimes states or countries away -- often not where they themselves live. In the decades since Megan’s Law was enacted, data and research collected and carried out by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, and Human Rights Watch indicates that increasing the number of registrants does not result in safer communities and may even have the opposite effect. Contrary to popular belief, the vast majority of sexual assaults are not perpetrated by strangers. The truth is, approximately 2/3 of sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows. For more information, please see the 
position statement by ACLU PA.  

HB 406 (Cox) – Work Search Requirements for Unemployment Compensation Claimants
How I Voted: No (Bill passed the House 130-71)

This bill requires the Department of Labor and Industry to reinstate all work search and CareerLink registration requirements for unemployment compensation (UC) eligibility that were waived during the pandemic no later than June 8, 2021. June 8, 2021 is also the scheduled launch date for the Department of Labor’s updated “BenMod” unemployment claim filing website. The existing UC system will be taken down for a period prior to launch in order to prepare for this transition. The Department of Labor and advocates for workers and UC claimants have expressed concerns that reinstating work search requirements at this time will cause additional confusion for claimants during the transition to the new BenMod portal and place an additional burden on the already backlogged UC system.

4/6/2021

HB 523 (Day) – Maintenance Agreements for Private Roads
How I voted: Yes (Bill passed the House 201-0)

HB 464 (Boback) – Updating the Family Caregiver Support Act
How I voted: Yes (Bill passed the House the House 201-0)

Families caring for adults with disabilities or providing at-home care to older adults or those living with Alzheimer’s Disease and related disorders face a significant need for support services. Additionally, a growing number of grandparents and other older adults are increasingly tasked with providing care to young children whose parents are unable to care for them. I co-sponsored and voted for House Bill 464, which amends the Family Caregiver Support Act and updates the Caregiver Support Program to expand eligibility and program flexibility.

4/5/2021

HB 827 (Gillespie) – Micro-Enterprise Development
How I voted: Yes (Bill passed the House 201-0)

HB 264 (Heffley) – RETSL Bidder Registration
How I voted: Yes (Bill passed the House 185-16)

HB 335 (Mackenzie) – Permanent Daylight Savings Time
How I voted: No (Bill passed the House 103-98)

HB 427 (Pyle) – Increase Restaurant Licensee Discount
How I voted: Yes (Bill passed the House 201-0)

HB 425 (Dowling) - Licensee to Sell Liquor to Another Licensee
How I voted: Yes (Bill passed the House 201-0)

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.