Senator Chris Gebhard E-Newsletter

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In this update:

  • Senate Passes Gebhard, Robinson Bill to Improve E-Verify System
  • Bills to Limit Exposure of Sexually Explicit Content in PA Schools Passed by Senate
  • Wolf Administration Plan to Toll Interstate Bridges Halted by Court
  • Bill to Improve Medical Care for Patients Approved by Senate
  • Senate Acts to Improve Drug Overdose Tracking and Response
  • Legislation Boosting Safety of Child Care Facilities Set for Enactment
  • Have a Happy Independence Day
  • Local Events

Senate Passes Gebhard, Robinson Bill to Increase Penalties for Hiring Unauthorized Workers

My bill to improve enforcement of the construction industry’s use of the federal E-Verify system was approved by the Senate and sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

The federal E-Verify system determines the eligibility of employees – both U.S. and foreign citizens – to work in America. The Public Works Employment Verification Act already requires all public construction contractors and subcontractors to use E-Verify to confirm the legal employment eligibility of new hires. However, despite these requirements, the practice of hiring unauthorized workers continues due to the enforcement mechanisms being weak.

Senate Bill 1147 would make the financial penalties more meaningful. Rather than the current penalty of $250 – $1,000, violators would face a fine of $2,500 – $25,000. Senate Bill 1147 streamlines enforcement and reduces the need for time-consuming audits by requiring construction contractors to be enrolled in E-Verify upfront and makes it a punishable offense if they are not.

Bills to Limit Exposure of Sexually Explicit Content in PA Schools Passed by Senate

The proposals are in response to concerns of parents that age-inappropriate conversations and pictures about sensitive topics are occurring without parental knowledge in school classrooms around the state.

Senate Bill 1277 would require districts to identify sexually explicit content in school curriculum and materials and notify parents that their child’s coursework includes such content.  You can review blurred examples of situations that parents have reported from classrooms around the state here.

Senate Bill 1278would prohibit classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation for pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade students, consistent with the timeline for when the existing academic standards on general sex education begins in sixth grade.  Clarification about what Senate Bill 1278 does and does not do is available here

Wolf Administration Plan to Toll Interstate Bridges Halted by Court

In a major win for motorists and communities near interstate highways, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania issued a ruling blocking the Wolf Administration from moving forward with its plan to toll nine interstate bridges across the state.

The decision follows a previous ruling temporarily halting the initiative, siding with a county and several municipalities that challenged the constitutionality of the plan to toll interstate bridges under the public-private partnership (P3) bridge program.

PennDOT attempted to move forward with tolling without approval from the General Assembly. The Senate passed Senate Bill 382 to require the P3 process to be more transparent while stopping the current initiative. Gov. Wolf vowed to veto the measure.

The new order voids the entire Major Bridge P3 Initiative, including the following bridges:

Bill to Improve Medical Care for Patients Approved by Senate 

The Senate voted to improve the health care experience for patients by streamlining the prior authorization and step therapy processes for medical treatment. The bill goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.  

Prior authorization means that, to qualify for payment, physicians and other health care providers must obtain advance approval from a health plan before a specific procedure or service. Step therapy requires patients to try prescription drug treatment options chosen by the patient’s insurance provider. 

Senate Bill 225 would set standards for commercial insurance plans, as well as Medicaid plans, when seeking prior authorization approval and with step therapy protocols. The legislation would also provide a timely process for appeals determinations. 

A recent American Medical Association survey found that prior authorization delays overwhelmingly result in patients forgoing treatment, leading to negative clinical impacts. 

Senate Acts to Improve Drug Overdose Tracking and Response

The Senate approved legislation to improve drug overdose tracking and response in Pennsylvania, which ranks third in the nation for overdose deaths. The bill will be sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Senate Bill 1152 would require law enforcement and emergency medical services agencies to report all overdose incidents within 72 hours to the statewide Overdose Information Network or any other platform approved by the Pennsylvania State Police to capture real-time overdose reporting.

The State Police will be required to document the numbers, trends and patterns associated with known and suspected overdoses and issue an annual report available in an online format for reference by public officials and the general public.

Access to real-time data will help public officials ensure that adequate overdose reversal drug supplies are available, substance use outreach efforts are enhanced and law enforcement investigations are undertaken to interrupt sources of deadly substances.

Legislation Boosting Safety of Child Care Facilities Set for Enactment

Legislation to improve safety in state-regulated child care facilities was approved by the Senate and is set to be signed into law.

Senate Bill 563 was introduced in response to a tragic fire that claimed the lives of five young children in Erie in 2019. Only one smoke detector was found in the care home, and it was in the attic.

The measure designates the locations where smoke alarms must be installed in child care facilities and require the alarms be interconnected so that if one is triggered, they all go off.

Have a Happy Independence Day

I hope you have a great July 4th holiday with friends and family as we celebrate the birth of our great nation, which remains the best hope for freedom and liberty on Earth.

Local Events 

Saturday, June 2 2pm, Community Independence Day Celebration

975 E Main St, Palmyra

https://www.facebook.com/events/s/community-independence-day-cel/423198489474103/

Sunday, June 3 7pm, Sounds of Summer Concert Series & Fireworks

Springettsbury Twp Park Amphitheater, 1501 Mount Zion Rd, York

https://www.springettsbury.com/

Monday, July 4 8pm, Lebanon Community Concert Band & Fireworks

Coleman Memorial Park

https://lebtown.com/2022/06/27/independence-day-fireworks-and-concert-planned-for-july-4-at-coleman-park/

Monday, June 4 1-9pm, Food Truck Festival & Fireworks

Riverfront Park

https://harrisburgpa.gov/special-events/july4th/

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