Legislative update: Review recently introduced legislation
March 1 update
To keep you informed, I am highlighting recently introduced bills this term that I will be following closely. I broke them down into categories so you can find your specific interests and provided short descriptions that the bill’s sponsor has claimed. If you click on the link for the bill number, you can find out more information about the bill. If you would like to advocate for the bill, follow the link, then click on the link for what committee the bill has been assigned to. This will bring up information about the Chairs and other members of that committee who you can contact and advocate for or against the bill.
HB422 would establish a statewide registry of persons found to be substantiated perpetrators of abuse, neglect, abandonment or exploitation of older persons in long-term care facilities. The stated purpose of this bill is to avoid another agency hiring that aide without any knowledge of the abuse.
HB459 would require all convicted abusers to be banned from owning, possessing, controlling, or working with animals for at least two years. It would also require abusers to participate in violence prevention counseling and, in the case of failure to attend counseling or trying to have an animal, the ban would be increased, and counseling required again.
HB506 would increase the penalty for ear cropping if not done properly by a licensed veterinarian from a summary offense to a third-degree misdemeanor. Subsequent offenses would constitute a second-degree misdemeanor.
HB465 would require public schools and non-public schools to test all outlets used for cooking and drinking annually for lead, and to ensure that said water is safe to consume. Pennsylvania’s school drinking water received an F grade from Penn Environment research and a federal survey found Pennsylvania had the highest number of schools with elevated lead levels in drinking water. The authority for this legislation comes from Article 27 of the Pennsylvania constitution stating, "The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment."
HB472 would provide financial assistance to eligible students who have completed 60 credits at a Pennsylvania community college and maintained a 3.0 cumulative grade point average on a 4.0 scale. Assistance would be provided to these students by requiring PHEAA to disregard one third of the student’s expected family contribution (EFC) and federal Pell grant award when calculating the student’s Pennsylvania state grant amount. The legislation seeks to reward those who succeed academically in community college with an affordable way to continue their education at a quality four-year college or university.
HB516 would make it unlawful to spread videos of school violence with the intent to harass or bully a student.
HB460 would set a mandatory price cap on the monthly cost of insulin for patients at $100 a month and call upon the attorney general to investigate the choices made by pharmaceutical companies that have allowed us to reach this point of financial crisis. The prime sponsor’s research suggests 10% of Americans are insulin dependent, and in 3 years the annual cost to patients is forecasted to reach $13,000. This bill seeks to remedy the rising price and clarify the cause.
HB493 would require health insurance policies to provide coverage for hearing aids. There is a companion resolution HR50 that would urge Congress to add hearing aid coverage to Medicaid as well. The sponsor points to hearing aids costing anywhere from $1,000 - $4,000, and that Medicaid only covers hearing aids for recipients under age 21 as the need for this legislation.
HB480 would require public utilities to offer their customers the choice of opting to have their utility payments reported to credit reporting agencies, including timely payments. This measure would allow consumers to opt-in at any time, with no restrictions or expiration date. The legislation seeks to remedy the consumer striving to establish or repair their credit only to find an unbalanced system reporting negative, delinquent payments, while other on-time payments go unreported.
HB498 would require credit reporting agencies who have experienced a data breach to: provide free credit monitoring and reports over a certain period of time; allow consumers to put a permanent security freeze on their sensitive information; and prevent credit reporting agencies from charging a fee to place or remove a security freeze on accounts.
HB494 would add denying credit or increasing charges and fees based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression as a “prohibited activity” for credit service companies. This legislation seeks to remedy issues found in research by Ivy College of Business at Iowa State University who analyzed national mortgage data from 1990 to 2015 and found the approval rate for same-sex couples was 3 to 8 percent lower than heterosexual couples. Based on this data, same-sex couple applicants were 73 percent more likely to be denied and, if approved, paid more in interest and fees.
HB509 would amend the Pennsylvania Amber Alert Law, requiring the Missing Endangered Person Advisory System to be activated immediately when a parent or family member reports that their child has been abducted, so that the public can be informed more quickly. By alerting the public sooner, the sponsor hopes that an abductor could be apprehended earlier, increasing the chances of saving the child’s life.
HB517 would prevent utilities from hiking up rates to recover lost profits that are due to the COVID-19 pandemic or mitigation measures. This legislation seeks to protect the consumer of essential services from paying for lost shareholder dividends as investment is a risk and should not be at the expense of ratepayers.
HB522 proposes an amendment to our state constitution that would protect Pennsylvanian’s rights to: A job that pays a living wage; affordable and accessible health care; safe, efficient, and reliable transportation infrastructure; and safe and healthy working conditions. This bill is based on the words of Franklin Roosevelt, “individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. Necessitous men are not free men.”
HB481 would require new non-residential buildings in the Commonwealth to be constructed with the necessary infrastructure to support Electronic Vehicle (EV) charging stations, ensuring the availability to charge EVs in places consumers frequent most, such as retail facilities, hotels, schools and restaurants. This bill seeks to raise consumer confidence in EV technology by placing EV charging stations along frequented routes and locations.
HB524 would exempt zero emission vehicles from the state sales tax upon their purchase. By incentivizing green drivers the bill’s sponsor seeks to help take a step toward building a greener, more sustainable Pennsylvania.
HB525 would provide for a Green Pass, a 10 percent discount to all E-ZPass holders who operate vehicles that obtain at least 45 miles per gallon and produce 90 percent fewer emissions than the average gasoline-powered vehicle of the same production year. By incentivizing green drivers the bill’s sponsor seeks to help take a step toward building a greener, more sustainable Pennsylvania.
HB479 would outline the types of communication that are prohibited after a restraining order is put in place, including: attempts to contact in person, by phone, e-mail or social media, including following or requests to follow public web pages, or knowingly attending events where the victim will be in attendance. This bill seeks to allow our citizens to feel safe and secure, and should not leave room for loopholes due to misinterpretation of technical language.
HB487 would add “intellectual or physical disability” to the list of elements that prosecutors can consider when contemplating hate crime charges. The prime sponsor points to an increase in “abhorrent” attacks on the disabled over the past two years as need for this legislation.
HB521 would authorize courts to require an alcohol monitoring device as a condition of bail, probation and parole for repeat offenders. This legislation seeks to capitalize on data showing recidivism rates for repeat DUI offenders who wore a device for at least 90 days are 50% less than those who were alternatively sentenced. In York County the program has resulted in a dramatic reduction in the number of DUI offenders arrested for another DUI within the first year, in DUI victims served by the District Attorney’s office and in the number of alcohol-related crashes.
HB486 would require employers to provide at least 30 minutes of rest after 5 hours of continuous work. Additionally, workers would have the freedom to leave their workplace for their meal breaks. This legislation is based on the premise that a refreshed and fed worker is a safe and productive worker.