How I voted: June 30, 2021
NO: HB 1184: Financial Support for Mayors
Status: Passed 110-91
As the prior Mayor of West Chester, I would have voted an enthusiastic “yes” on this bill, which requires municipalities to pay up to $100/year for mayors to join a professional association and reimburse for educational/training functions. However, the bill was amended to include permission for sections of municipalities with 500+ residents to secede from their own local government. With 2,560 local governments, PA already ranks third in the nation in terms of number of municipalities. If anything, we need to promote sharing of resources and collaborative regional planning so we can solve problems that go beyond our municipal borders, such as flooding. More division will only lead to inefficiencies, duplication of services, and a greater taxpayer burden.
NO: HB 406: Reinstatement of Work Search and Career Link Requirements for Those Receiving Unemployment Compensation
Status: Passed 130-71
This bill proposed to reinstate Work Search and Career Link requirements for those receiving unemployment compensation (UC) on the same day the state switched over to a new UC system. An amendment to delay this start date to July so the new system could be set up to accommodate the requirements was denied by the majority Republicans.
Since December, my office has served many constituents who need their unemployment benefits right now, due to continued issues finding childcare and the need to ensure a sufficient portion of the population is fully vaccinated. My staff has worked tirelessly to help those of you who are unemployed access your benefits. This rushed measure would have created havoc.
The state Senate has a similar bill reflecting a more reasonable start date for the work requirements, which I support.
NO: HB 979: More Legal Protections for the NRA
Status: Passed 124-79
This bill gives member groups such as the NRA unprecedented standing to sue municipalities and place the financial burden of all legal fees on you – as local taxpayers – even if these groups are not harmed by local firearms laws. I asked my colleagues: When will we stop kowtowing to special interests and do our fundamental duty to keep the people safe? Want to know more? See my speech from the House floor here.
NO: HB 1033: Reimbursement for Non-Standard Lyme Disease Treatment
Status: Passed 136-66
This bill requires insurers to cover non-standard care (long-term antibiotic and anti-microbial therapy) for treating Lyme disease and exempts alternative Lyme disease providers from disciplinary action by the PA licensing board. I voted no because Lyme disease symptoms can persist long after the microbe is gone from the body, and the standard of care already allows longer-term therapy for difficult cases that require 3-4 weeks of antibiotic therapy. Multiple clinical trials show no benefit to prolonged IV antibiotic treatment in patients with Lyme disease and what’s more, prolonged treatment can be detrimental due to antimicrobial resistance and other health impacts.
YES: HB 1024: Updates to the Medical Marijuana Law
Status: Passed 164-38
This bill updates the medical marijuana law by allowing tele-health visits, purchasing of a 90-day vs a 30-day supply, eliminating the need for duplicative background checks that can already be obtained electronically, eliminating duplicative product testing requirements and more. Medical (not recreational) marijuana is proven to be of clinical value for patients, and I believe more updates to the law will be needed in the future to align the approved uses with valid clinical research and improve dosing control.
NO: HB 118: “Ritual” Disposal of Medical Tissue Following Miscarriage or Abortion
Status: Passed 118-83
This bill requires a hospital or clinic to be responsible for fetal tissue after any miscarriage (no exceptions for early or ectopic miscarriages) or abortion and provide for “ritual disposal” of the tissue regardless of the mother’s (and father’s) desire. Ritual disposal includes burial or cremation. The bill also changes the legal definition of fetal death to include any spontaneous or induced abortion immediately post-fertilization.
I find this bill to be an appalling infringement on the rights of the mother and parents to determine how to handle their very private, often traumatic circumstance. The representatives who voted to pass this bill have no right to tell a woman who has suffered a loss or who has decided to have an abortion how the fetal tissue should be managed. Additionally, it places a financial and ethical burden on hospitals and clinics and requires them to go against the mother’s and father’s wishes.