Senator Robert Tomlinson E-Newsletter

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Dear Friend,

I am pleased to send you this edition of my electronic newsletter. These e-newsletters provide information about issues, events and activities in Harrisburg and around the 6th Senatorial District to you in a timely manner while saving postage costs.

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Sincerely,

Robert Tommy Tomlinson

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New Law Restricts Robocalls in Pennsylvania

Governor Wolf recently signed a bill into law that would limit the amount of nuisance robocalls that Pennsylvania residents receive. The new law, will allow state residents to remain on the do-not-call list on a permanent basis instead of having to renew their listing every five years.

The new law also prohibits telemarketing on legal holidays and provides new options for consumers to opt-out of receiving future calls from businesses. Consumers can verify whether their number is included on the do-not-call list and learn more about how to eliminate nuisance calls at the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s website here.

Senate Approves New Protections for Healthcare Practitioners, Technicians

Healthcare providers have reported an uptick in the number of assaults and other dangerous situations faced in the performance of their job. The Senate recently passed a bill that would provide new protections for a broad number of healthcare practitioners and technicians by increasing the penalties for assaulting these critical personnel.

Assaults against doctors, nurses and EMTs already draw stiffer penalties under state law. This bill would extend the same protections to a broader range of health care practitioners, including social workers, pharmacists, audiologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, athletic trainers, dietitian-nutritionists, massage therapists, optometrists, podiatrists, physician assistants and respiratory therapists and ultrasound technicians.

A number of health care technicians would also be included under the bill, such as cardiac device specialists, diagnostic medical sonographers, cardiac sonographers, exercise physiologists, vascular technologists, pharmacy technicians and physical therapy aides.

More information about the bill is available here.

Landmark Election Reform Legislation Passes Senate

The Senate passed landmark legislation that will fundamentally change how Pennsylvanians are able to vote.

This major election reform measure will:

  • Allow Pennsylvanians to vote by mail. Currently absentee ballots are able to be mailed by voters for a limited number of reasons, including illness, physical disability or for being out of their home area for employment-related purposes. Senate Bill 421 permits no excuse absentee ballots to be used for voting, meaning Pennsylvanians will be able to conveniently vote by mail in any election for any reason. With this change, Pennsylvania will join 28 other states in allowing mailed absentee ballots to be used by voters whenever they would like.
  • Provide more time to register to vote. The deadline to register to vote under current Pennsylvania law is 30 days before a Primary or General Election. Senate Bill 421 will cut that time period in half, moving the deadline to 15 days before an election so that residents have more time to register to vote.
  • Extend absentee ballot deadlines. Currently absentee ballots must be received by county election boards by the Friday before an election. Senate Bill 421 will give voters more time to submit an absentee ballot by extending the deadline until 8:00 pm on Election Day. Forty-seven states allow absentee ballots to be received by Election Day or later.
  • Provide much-needed funding for voting machine upgrades. With 67 counties and nearly 9,200 polling places, Pennsylvania has one of the largest election systems in the country. As voting machines continue to age, Senate Bill 421 provides $90 million through the issuance of bonds to help upgrade and properly secure the state’s vast election system.
  • Eliminate antiquated voting practices that benefit political parties. Currently Pennsylvania law has a requirement for a straight ticket voting option to appear at the beginning of every ballot. This provision unfairly impacts minor party candidates who do not belong to the Democratic or Republican parties. When used, this option often reflects voters’ views of candidates at the top of a political ticket and discourages thoughtful voting for all of the candidates on the ballot. Senate Bill 421 will eliminate the straight party voting option at the beginning of a ballot, putting Pennsylvania in line with 45 other states that also do not permit straight party check boxes on their ballots.

In addition to these reforms, Senate Bill 421 contains several other changes affecting our elections. The legislation also creates a permanent absentee ballot status for the disabled by eliminating a requirement to resubmit a statement to election officials every four years. In addition, Senate Bill 421 eliminates an onerous requirement for notaries to be used for candidate nomination petitions, making the ballot access process easier for candidate

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