Jun. 07, 2019

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Harrisburg Update

A quick look at what’s happening in Harrisburg
and the 125th Legislative District...

Continuing Support for PA Military, Veterans

In recognition of the service and sacrifice of active duty military and veterans in the Commonwealth, the House is always working to enact policies that help and support these men and women and their families.

This week, we approved House Bill 630 to extend Pennsylvania’s current employment protections to Pennsylvania citizens who are members of another state’s National Guard and are called up to service outside of the Commonwealth.
We also approved House Bill 1050 to ensure an in-state tuition rate for military families as soon as a student enrolls in a public college or university, regardless of whether his or her military parent is reassigned out of the state. Both bills are now pending consideration in the Senate.

Finally, lawmakers joined with representatives of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) to send off seven new vans that will help DAV volunteers transport veterans to their VA medical appointments.

For more information, visit the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs website at  dmva.pa.gov.

Applications Accepted for Drug-Free Communities Support Program Grants

The Office of National Drug Control Policy, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration are accepting applications for Fiscal Year 2019 Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Support Program grants.

These grants are intended to establish and strengthen collaboration among communities, public and private non-profit agencies, and federal, state, local and tribal governments to support the efforts of community coalitions working to prevent and reduce substance abuse among youth. Approximately 150 coalitions will be chosen to receive up to $125,000 per year for up to five years.

The application deadline is July 8. For more information on eligibility and requirements, click here.

Committee Examine Impacts of Medical Marijuana on Second Amendment Rights

The House Judiciary and Health committees held a joint public hearing this week about medical marijuana use and Second Amendment rights.

While medical marijuana use is legal under state law, it remains a violation of federal law. Federal law also prohibits anyone who is an “unlawful user” or addicted to any controlled substance from buying or owning a firearm.

Committee members heard from law enforcement officials and representatives of gun rights organizations during the hearing. Key points of the discussion included the need to better inform medical marijuana users about the impact on their Second Amendment rights and how HIPAA laws protect patients from disclosing their use of medical cannabis.

Law enforcement officials also talked about other enforcement-related issues, such as how to administer field sobriety tests on a driver suspected of using cannabis.

House Approves Legislation to Protect Minors

This week, the House passed legislation to increase the legal age a person can get married to 18 as part of efforts to address the crime of human trafficking.

The majority of child marriages involve young girls and adult men. These relationships would otherwise lead to statutory rape charges. However, an exception in the law prevents charges from being filed when the cases involves spouses despite the marriage being between a minor and an adult.

Under current Pennsylvania law, a marriage license may be issued to an applicant younger than 16 with court approval. A marriage license also may be issued when an applicant is older than 16 but younger than 18 with the consent of a parent or guardian.

House Bill 360 would amend current state statute to prohibit the issuance of a marriage license to anyone under the age of 18.

The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Measures Aim to Improve Mental Health Care Access

Working to strengthen communities and support Pennsylvania families, we are continuing our efforts to improve access to behavioral health services in the Commonwealth.

House Resolution 268 directs the Joint State Government Commission (JSGC) to assess the Commonwealth’s treatment capacity for mental and behavioral health care by studying the patient care and financial impacts of delayed emergency department discharge of patients with a behavioral health diagnoses, and the cause of such delays.

A second measure, House Resolution 193, calls on JSGC to study the shortages in the mental health care workforce that are leading to delays in obtaining treatment.

The House also approved a bill to clarify current law regarding consent to mental health treatment for minor children. House Bill 672 specifically states a parent can consent to care without a minor’s approval. While this is the intent of current law, there has been confusion among parents, minors and providers about who can or must consent to care.

The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.
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988 Route 61 South, East Main Street, Schuylkill Haven, PA 17972 | Phone (toll free) (855) 271-9384
Borough Building, 200 S. West St., Williamstown, PA  Phone (717) 647-7208
4B East Wing, Harrisburg, PA 17120-2147 
Email: mtobash@pahousegop.com
TTY: 855-282-0614