In this update:
High school sports and spectator decisions removed from local level by governor, 24 House Democrats
The legislature, with strong bipartisan support, approved a measure that would have ensured school districts could make the final decision on allowing school sports, extracurricular activities and spectators during the 2020-21 school year.
Despite the strong support, Governor Wolf vetoed this proposal.
Unfortunately, an effort to override this veto in the House of Representatives fell short.
Although the bill was approved by more than two-thirds of lawmakers in both the Senate and the House on final passage, the vote to override the Governor’s veto fell short in the House by just four votes when more than two dozen House Democrats who originally supported the bill reversed course and threw their support behind the Wolf Administration instead of standing up for school officials, parents and student-athletes.
Despite the failed effort to override the veto, school sports and activities are set to continue this fall under PIAA guidelines. However, the failed override effort means that the Wolf Administration will maintain the authority to halt these activities at any time.
Bipartisan effort to help struggling locally owned restaurants, bars, taverns, clubs
Our locally owned restaurants, taverns and social clubs have been hit the hardest by unfair restrictions dating back to March. The sweeping shutdown measures have been a one-size-fits-all approach with limited data and very little notice, or explanation provided to these small business owners.
That is why I was pleased to see the Senate, again, in bipartisan fashion with a vote of 43-6, send a bill to the governor that eases these restrictions.
House Bill 2513 would allow food and beverage establishments and event venues to operate at a minimum of 50 percent for indoor dining while adhering to social distancing consistent with guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The legislation would also allow those establishments to increase capacity to above 50 percent should the CDC deem it safe, or should the venue have appropriate physical barriers.
The measure also provides additional flexibility for the Liquor Control Board to temporarily approve of outdoor seating within 250 feet of the main licensed building operated by the liquor license holder.
Finally, it would remove the mandate that an establishment must serve a meal in order to purchase an alcoholic beverage for on-premise consumption.
You can read more about this much-needed legislation here.
Governor Wolf is threatening to veto the legislation. Any effort to override the governor’s veto would begin in the House of Representatives.
Senate approves bill protecting nursing home residents
Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities faced the greatest threats from COVID-19, and approximately two-thirds of all deaths attributed to the virus were residents of these facilities. The Senate took action this week to better protect some of our most vulnerable populations against the threat of contagious diseases.
The measure would require the Secretary of Health to ensure long-term care facilities follow and implement disease prevention and control guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services during an emergency declaration.
In addition, the legislation would ensure no individual who has tested positive for a communicable disease within 14 days is placed in a facility without being placed in isolation. Under the bill, the Secretary of Health would be prevented from forcing the admission of a patient to a long-term care facility without considering the ability of the facility to care for the patient.
Cutting regulations to expand access to high-speed internet
Legislation I authored would offer certain telecommunications providers some much-needed regulatory relief so they can more easily deploy broadband to areas of the state that do not currently have access. The bill would modernize Chapters 63 and 64 of the Public Utility Code and require the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to waive certain regulations, review regulations every three years and eliminate those that are no longer necessary or in the public interest.
Earlier this week, I was pleased to see the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee approve this legislation.
You can read more about my efforts here.
Improving transparency in COVID-19 death reporting
As early as April, serious discrepancies began to emerge on the number of COVID-19 deaths that were being reported by the Department of Health and county coroners. A bill approved by the Senate this week would help eliminate these inconsistencies.
The legislation would ensure county coroners are notified of all suspected deaths in their jurisdiction caused by this virus and other contagious diseases that constitute a health emergency. The bill would aid county coroners in investigating the facts and circumstances surrounding suspected COVID-19 deaths and other cases of death by contagious disease.
Delta Lumber celebrates 100 years
This week, I had the honor of celebrating a historic milestone for a locally owned business that has been a critical part of southeastern York County’s economy and community.
Delta Lumber, originally established as Delta Lumber and Coal in September of 1920, has adapted and changed in a lot of ways.
But, as I said when I presented them with a congratulatory citation from the Senate of Pennsylvania, while a lot has changed over the last century, and certainly over the last six months, their commitment to our community has not.
General Manager Rick Boothe shared with me some great photos detailing the history of this locally owned small business. Congratulations!!
Talk the talk, walk the walk
The Senate State Government Committee advanced a concurrent resolution this week calling for a Convention of States under Article V of the United States Constitution to consider term limits for members of Congress.
I noted that while I support government reform at all levels, we must look at systemic reforms to the Pennsylvania General Assembly first.
That is why I’ve sponsored a measure calling for a limited state constitutional convention to look at these efforts. It was the topic of a public hearing I hosted in Dallastown last week.
You can watch my remarks during the discussion of the legislation before the Senate State Government Committee below.
Furthermore, if you are interested in how I am trying to change Harrisburg based on the suggested reforms from many of our neighbors, please take a few minutes to watch my opening comments at last week’s hearing on my proposed constitutional amendment.
You can read more about last week’s hearing here.
Supporting increased penalties on those who do not “Move Over” for first responders
The Senate approved a bill this week that would rebrand the state’s “Steer Clear Law” as the “Move Over Law” to ensure motorists know how to react when approaching an emergency response area. The legislation would better protect law enforcement, fire and EMS personnel, tow truck drivers and other emergency responders.
The measure also increases fines and points for violations and boosts public awareness of the responsibilities of motorists approaching an accident scene.
Senate approves measure to remove licensing fees for service dogs used by local fire depts, Sheriff, first responders
The Senate of Pennsylvania gave its unanimous support on Tuesday to a measure I’ve sponsored that provides for licensing fee exemptions for service dogs in Pennsylvania.
My proposal builds on existing law that currently provides for licensing fee exemptions for dogs that are part of a municipal or State Police K-9 unit, as well as service dogs used for aid.
Senate Bill 85 expands the law to provide licensing fee exemptions for service dogs used for Sheriff’s offices, fire departments, EMTs and other emergency service organizations.
Read more about this legislation here.
State efforts to end telemarketing “spoofing”
Telemarketers frequently “spoof” phone numbers to trick consumers into answering calls by making it appear as if their call originates in the same area as the recipient. Legislation approved by the Senate this week would prohibit this practice in the future.
The bill would prevent any individual or entity from engaging in caller ID spoofing in order to defraud, cause harm or obtain anything of value from another person. It would also prohibit telemarketing and robocalls between the hours of 8 p.m. and 8 a.m.
Effort to reduce unused state office space, save taxpayer dollars
A bill that would help curb costs to taxpayers by reducing unused officed space earned the approval of the Senate this week. The measure would require executive, independent, and state-affiliated agencies to report their space usage on an annual basis to identify ways to reduce costs and make the best use of existing resources.
Over the past three decades, Pennsylvania has seen a 26 percent reduction in the number of state employees without any evidence of a corresponding reduction of office space.
Legislation would require notification of information breaches
The Senate approved a bill this week that would protect consumers by requiring timely public notification when a security breach compromises personal information held by state agencies. The bill updates the Breach of Personal Information Notification Act to require state agencies victimized by a breach involving personally identifiable information to report the incident to those affected within seven days.
The legislation also requires the state Attorney General be informed of any breach and for executive branch agencies to notify the Office of Administration within three days following a breach.
I was pleased to help advance this legislation as chair of the Senate Communications and Technology Committee earlier this month.
Upcoming PennDOT projects
PennDOT shared with me their upcoming planned maintenance projects for next week across York County. You can view their scheduled projects below.
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