In this Update:
Senate Approves Bill Eliminating Regulation that Denies Patients Access to Information about Laboratory Services
The state Senate this week approved legislation sponsored by Sens. Rosemary Brown (R-40), Tracy Pennycuick (R-24) and me that would eliminate regulations preventing patients from learning about diagnostic testing and services provided by local clinical laboratories.
Patients should have access to information about the services and procedures available at their local clinical laboratories. I want to make sure patients can make informed decisions about where and how to obtain these important health services. Our bill would remove the gag order on this specific set of health care services.
Pennsylvania’s outdated clinical laboratory regulations were adopted in the late 1960s and prohibit them from advertising about their diagnostic testing and services to the public. This regulatory gag order denies patients access to information about the availability of these services.
Clinical laboratories are regulated by the state and federal governments. The laboratory tests and procedures they provide are used to inform 70% of healthcare decisions.
Senate Bill 712 would enable clinical laboratories to publicly advertise the availability of clinical diagnostic testing services, while also maintaining important consumer protections. The legislation would continue to require a Pennsylvania licensed physician’s script for the ordering of diagnostic testing and the physician-ordered tests would have to be processed by a licensed clinical laboratory.
Pennsylvania is the only state in the nation that still prevents clinical laboratories from advertising directly to commonwealth residents.
Hotline Established to Report Live Minks
Following the recent release of minks from a farm in Rockefeller Township, Northumberland County established a phone line for residents to call to report a loose mink found on their property.
The Northumberland County Emergency Management Agency, the county chief clerk and county commissioners established the phone line, which is 570-988-4217.
If residents catch a mink in a trap, they should take the mink to Sunbury Animal Hospital, 3920 state Route 890, Sunbury.
Dead minks should be reported to the Pennsylvania Game Commission at 833-742-4868 (833-PGC-HUNT) or 833-742-9453 (833-PGC-WILD).
Live minks can be dangerous and may bite residents. Authorities are advising residents not to approach or attempt to catch minks without a safe and proper trap.
Senate Votes to Streamline and Increase School Safety Measures
This week, the Senate passed House Bill 27 to more effectively keep Pennsylvania children safe at school by streamlining and increasing school safety measures.
House Bill 27 would consolidate school safety programs and operations under the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) and create a new Executive Committee under PCCD to review school safety issues and to identify current and emerging trends.
The bill would also ensure schools and counties can develop best practices for emergency response by developing a safe schools collaborative, release $100 million that was included in the 2023-24 state budget for K-12 mental health programs and provide greater flexibility for school districts experiencing shortages of substitute teachers. Read More
PA Voters Get Greater Say with Senate Bill
The Senate passed a bill that would give Pennsylvania voters a significant say in presidential elections by moving up the primary election date.
In many presidential elections, the outcome is largely decided before Pennsylvania voters have a chance to cast a ballot. Moving up the spring election date gives voters in the fifth-largest state a better chance of weighing in on the presidential primary.
Currently, the primary takes place on the fourth Tuesday of April. Senate Bill 224 would move the primary to the third Tuesday in March, making the next presidential primary election date March 19, 2024. The change would also prevent a conflict with Passover, during which observant Jewish Pennsylvanians are prohibited from writing, driving or using electricity.
Tax Seminars Held Virtually and Across PA
Tax professionals can learn about changes to state tax laws and policies during one-day seminars offered by the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue held across the state and virtually.
The tax seminars will educate tax professionals on Personal Income Tax, sales tax corporate taxes, compliance initiatives and using the department’s website to establish tax accounts for new businesses, file tax returns and pay state taxes.
Find a local or virtual seminar here.
Grants Available to Increase Economic Benefits Boaters Offer PA Communities
Communities can apply now for grants to enhance the economic and social benefits of providing convenient boating access along their waterways. Townships, boroughs, municipal and county governments, and nonprofit groups may apply. Private businesses and service clubs are not eligible.
Applicants can seek grants for site acquisition, development, expansion, prevention of the spread of aquatic invasive species and rehabilitation of recreational boat access facilities. Eligible construction projects may include boat ramps, courtesy floats, restrooms, access roads, parking areas and signs. Funds may also be used to make facilities ADA compliant.
While the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission will accept applications from anywhere in the commonwealth, special consideration will be given to projects that provide public boating access in the Delaware River watershed. Learn more or apply online by Dec. 30.
Yom Kippur Begins Sunday
Yom Kippur – the holiest day on the Jewish calendar – begins at nightfall on Sunday, Sept. 24. The Day of Atonement, which ends the following day at nightfall, is spent fasting, praying and seeking forgiveness.
I wish everyone who observes this important holiday a meaningful Yom Kippur. May you be sealed in the Book of Life.
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