Pro-Small Business Bill Advanced out of Committee to Address Major Regulatory Challenges
Legislation that would overhaul the state’s regulatory process received the approval of the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee earlier this week.
The bill is part of the Prioritize Pennsylvania: Small Businesses initiative I am sponsoring with Senators Ryan Aument, Kristin Phillips-Hill and Judy Ward and would remove bureaucratic red tape, increase transparency and provide for greater legislative input and oversight into the state’s regulatory process.
Senate Bill 32 would create the Independent Office of the Repealer to review regulations, receive and process recommendations, evaluate the merits of recommendations in accordance with decision rules and quantitative and qualitative criteria, and make recommendations to the General Assembly and the Governor and Executive agencies for repeal, modification or revision. It would also require the General Assembly to approve economically significant regulations and the bill would require each state agency to be more transparent and accessible when it comes to assisting constituents with permits and regulations.
One of the many ways that we can support the backbone of our economy is to eliminate the unnecessary regulations which all too often burden our small business community. That’s why I was pleased to support the passage of Senate Bill 32 in committee because it takes that important step by removing such hurdles. Together, this legislation and the other bills which are part of our Prioritize PA package will provide the kind of relief and reform small employers need to level the playing field and help them rebuild and recover following the pandemic.
You can learn more about the Prioritize Pennsylvania: Small Businesses initiative here.
Earlier this week, the Senate also advanced Senate Bill 108, legislation I have sponsored with Senator Dan Laughlin dedicating additional Medicaid funding to facilities that serve a substantial number of patients who require ventilator or tracheostomy care.
Hundreds of patients in Pennsylvania currently receive Medicaid-covered ventilator or tracheostomy care in a nursing home in any given month. However, Medicaid currently does not reimburse providers for all the additional expenses that ventilator and tracheostomy patients incur, including specialized equipment, supplies and staff costs. Many providers face the prospect of limiting or eliminating services for these patients. Without action to help providers, patients could be forced to travel long distances to one of the dwindling number of nursing homes that offer these services, or receive care in a hospital, where the daily cost of care is roughly four times higher than in a nursing home.
Additional details on my bill, which is now headed to the House of Representatives for consideration, can be found here.
Senate Acts to Put the Brakes on PennDOT’s Bridge Tolling Plan
The Senate approved a plan this week to reform the Public-Private Transportation Partnership (P3) statute and to void the PennDOT Pathways Major Bridge P3 Initiative.
On November 12, 2020, the P3 Board, under PennDOT’s jurisdiction, supported an ambiguous proposal to impose user fees or tolls on major bridges throughout the interstate system. This was the first time in the P3 Board’s history to consider a proposal with user fees.
The reform legislation will:
Senate Approves Legislation Permitting Essential Family Caregiver Nursing Home Visits During Emergencies
The Senate approved legislation to allow a family member or other designated person to visit and care for a long-term care facility resident during a disaster emergency involving a communicable disease.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many residents of such facilities have been denied the ability to see and receive care from their loved ones, causing traumatic distress.
The legislation allows long-term care facilities to designate Essential Family Caregivers for regular visits. A participating facility must follow necessary health precautions outlined by federal and state governments.
Senate Passes Plan to Establish a New Funding Stream for Pediatric Cancer Research
More than $100 million in private donations over the next 10 years could be raised to support childhood cancer research under a bill passed by the Senate.
The legislation establishes a tax credit program for qualifying donations to a Pennsylvania pediatric cancer research hospital. The program would be capped at $10 million per year over the next 10 years.
More children die from cancer than any other disease and currently, only 4 percent of National Cancer Institute research dollars are spent on pediatric cancer. Since 1975, pediatric cancer incidence rates have increased every year.
Senate Approves Program to Train Next Generation of PA Firefighters
The Senate approved creation of a pilot program to train high school students interested in firefighting and help alleviate the pressing need for volunteer firefighters in Pennsylvania.
According to the bipartisan SR 6 report on the serious problems facing volunteer fire companies, Pennsylvania is experiencing a severe shortage of volunteer firefighters. The current number of volunteers is down to less than 15 percent of the number in the 1970s.
The legislation creates a pilot program for Pennsylvania community colleges and universities to give interested high school students training in firefighting. The goal is to demonstrate that students receiving training will show an interest in becoming the next generation of firefighters. The bill requires a follow-up study to measure the program’s success.
Honoring Veterans of Persian Gulf War and Global War on Terrorism
Two new designations could honor veterans of the Persian Gulf War and the Global War on Terrorism under legislation recently approved by the Senate. The bill would designate March 6 as Persian Gulf War Veterans Day and October 7 as Global War on Terrorism Veterans Day.
Under the bill, the governor would be required to encourage schools to observe the contributions of veterans in these conflicts. However, the observations would not be mandatory for schools.
Monday is the Deadline to Register for May 18 Primary Election
Monday, May 3 is the last day to register to vote in the May 18 primary election.
You can register to vote online, by mail or at several government agencies.
Other Key Dates:
May 11, 5 p.m. – Applications for a mail-in or absentee ballot must be received by your county election board.
May 18, 8 p.m. – Voted ballots must be received by your county election office.