Senate Weekly Session Wrap
A Report on the Legislative Session Week of June 4, 2012
Important Harrisburg Happenings:
No Lame Duck Session in 2012
I am pleased to report that Senate and House leaders announced during the week of May 21st that the Pennsylvania General Assembly will not convene in a "lame duck" session this year.
The days between the November election and November 30 are known as a lame-duck session because if the General Assembly convened during that period of time, some members would be able to vote on legislation despite the fact that their successors have already been elected.
This will be the third consecutive legislative session in which the Senate will not convene for a lame-duck session.
Bill to Protect Student Athletes from Sudden Cardiac Arrest Goes to Governor
Legislation intended to protect student athletes from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) was signed into law on May 30th by the Governor, following Senate approval of the measure on May 22nd.
House Bill 1610, also known as the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Prevention Act, would require Pennsylvania's Department of Education and Department of Health to develop guidelines and educational materials to educate coaches, parents and student athletes about the warning signs of sudden cardiac arrest, including the risks associated with continuing to play or practice when experiencing those symptoms.
SCA is a leading cause of death in young athletes. SCA occurs when the heart beat stops abruptly and unexpectedly, and is usually attributed to either a structural or electrical heart defect. Warning signs include fainting and shortness of breath. Family health history can also be a factor.
Senate Approves Good Samaritan Protection Bill
The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 351, legislation I co-sponsored, that is intended to protect innocent bystanders from liability when they render aid to someone in distress.
SB 351 expands the state's Good Samaritan law to cover people who, in good faith, use CPR, first aid or an automated external defibrillator (AED) to aid victims during an emergency. It also releases from liability business and property owners who place an AED on their premises.
Current law provides uneven legal protections for bystanders and emergency response providers, according to the American Heart Association. Bystanders are currently protected from liability if they use an AED, but not if they render CPR or first aid. Conversely, emergency response providers are protected if they render CPR or first aid, but not if they use an AED.
SB 351 is strongly supported by the American Heart Association, the American Red Cross, the Emergency Health Services Council, the Hospital Association of PA and the Ambulance Association of PA.
The measure now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Passes "Open Campus" Bill
The Senate approved legislation on May 23rd that would allow "open campus" to proceed as an education demonstration project.
Senate Bill 1492 would lay the groundwork for school districts to participate in cooperative agreements to share resources as a way to broaden educational opportunities for students without adding costs to taxpayers. Courses would be available to students through the use of videoconferencing, online instruction and other electronic communications.
SB 1492 is now before the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Approves Extension of Environmental Cleanup Programs
The Senate unanimously approved legislation on May 22nd to extend two environmental protection grant programs.
Senate Bill 1398 extends the sunset dates of the Underground Storage Tank Environmental Cleanup Program and the Underground Storage Tank Pollution Prevention Program to June 30, 2017. Both programs are set to end in June unless they are formally reauthorized.
The Underground Storage Tank Environmental Cleanup Program provides grants of up to $5,000 for owners of underground storage tanks with a capacity of 3,000 gallons or less. The Underground Storage Tank Pollution Prevention Program is intended to cover the costs of pumping out and sealing underground storage tanks that were not upgraded to meet regulations.
The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.