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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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Robert Tommy Tomlinson
Historic Election Modernization Bill Signed Into Law
Last week, lawmakers approved the most comprehensive changes in decades to Pennsylvania’s election laws. The new law will make it easier for all Pennsylvanians to exercise their right to vote and ensure local taxpayers are not asked to pay an exorbitant bill to replace voting machines.
Some of the changes in the bill include:
- Extending the deadline for voters to submit an absentee ballot.
- Pushing back the voter registration deadline from 30 days before an election to 15 days.
- Allowing voters to request and submit an absentee ballot by mail without providing a reason.
- Creating a permanent mail-in voter list.
- Eliminating straight-party voting, which 40 other states have already done.
More details about the bill are available here.
Legislative Update: Healthcare Bills Move Forward
The Senate recently approved four bills that will make healthcare services more affordable and accessible, while at the same time addressing other critical issues in the healthcare community.
The bills include:
- Senate Bill 857, which would improve the availability of healthcare services by promoting telemedicine services in Pennsylvania. Telemedicine would allow care providers to deliver services digitally through the use of apps, Skype, FaceTime and other advanced technologies.
- Senate Bill 841, which would reauthorize the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4), also earned Senate approval. The agency is responsible for collecting and analyzing data about the cost and quality of health care in the state, as well as studying issues that affect access to care.
- Senate Bill 836, which would protect the health of student athletes by informing them and their parents about the importance of electrocardiogram (EKG) testing to detect underlying heart conditions that can lead to Sudden Cardiac Arrest.
- Senate Bill 351, which would protect healthcare practitioners and technicians by increasing penalties for assaults committed against them while in the performance of their job duties.
2019 Nursing Home Inspection and Sanction Information
- In the 2019 report, Pennsylvania Department of Health nursing home surveyors conducted 525 inspections of 343 nursing homes, including 307 complaint investigations. In addition, one sanction was finalized against a nursing care facility, with civil penalties totaling $11,250.
- The inspections, called surveys, include information on nursing home patient-care and building inspections. If a facility is cited for not following regulations during the survey, it must submit a plan of correction that includes what will be done to fix the issue and a completion date. The department will conduct a surprise follow-up inspection to ensure the issue is resolved.
- The department also may issue a sanction. Possible sanctions include a civil penalty, a ban on admissions, a license being revoked, or a facility being put on a provisional license, which requires, among other things, being subject to additional inspections. A provisional license can be renewed no more than three times. The department can return the facility to a regular license if it is satisfied that all issues have been corrected and it is warranted.
- The department maintains a searchable database, which allows the public to view patient care surveys, building safety surveys, size of the nursing home, type of ownership and additional information about each of the nursing homes in the state. The department oversees nearly 700 nursing homes and more than 88,000 beds within nursing homes in Pennsylvania, in addition to other facilities, including hospitals, ambulatory surgical facilities, home care agencies and others.
- You can make a complaint anonymously by calling 1-800-254-5164, filling out the online complaint form, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or sending the complaint in the mail to the department.
Anglers and Hunters: Look Out for Online Scams When Purchasing Licenses
- The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) and Pennsylvania Game Commission are warning anglers and hunters to avoid online scams when purchasing their licenses. The warning follows several recent reports of customers paying for licenses through third-party websites not affiliated with either agency, and then never receiving a license.
- Pennsylvania fishing licenses and permits can be purchased safely through the online portal The Outdoor Shop or in-person from a retail license issuing agent. The Game Commission sells hunting and furtaking licenses and permits through The Outdoor Shop.
- Anyone who encounters a website offering the sale of a Pennsylvania fishing or hunting license that does not link to The Outdoor Shop to complete the transaction should call the PFBC Fishing License Help Line at (877)707-4085 or the Game Commission’s license division at (717)787-2084. Victims of a fishing or hunting license scam should notify the PA Attorney General by completing a Scams Complaint Form.
Application Period Opens for Specialty Crop Block Grant Program
Specialty crops are a growing part of the agriculture industry in Pennsylvania. As part of the Farming First package of bills to support farmers, a new program was created to encourage the sale of specialty crops like hemp, hops, hardwoods, honey; and barley, rye and wheat for distilling, brewing and malting.
Applications are available now for the Pennsylvania Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. The application period for the grant program is open through December 2. More information and applications for the program are available here.
Game Commission Urges Motorists to Stay Alert for Deer
Deer become more active during the late fall and early winter months, and the end of daylight saving time puts more cars on the road during peak deer activity hours between dusk and dawn. The Pennsylvania Game Commission is urging motorists to slow down and exercise caution to avoid a collision with deer.
More information on avoiding deer collisions, and what to do if you hit a deer, is available here.