State Capitol Roundup

Department of Public Welfare Continues Efforts

to Address Fraud


The Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare (DPW) this week announced it has identified more than 600 cases of fraud following a review conducted by the department of out-of-state transactions for electronic benefit cards.  Electronic benefit transfer cards, known as EBT cards, are the primary method for issuing public assistance benefits for eligible Pennsylvania residents.  In February, the department began a monthly residency review of individuals who had completed electronic benefit transactions in states not directly bordering Pennsylvania.  Of the more than 1,100 cases flagged for review, 653 cases were deemed fraudulent and were closed.  In the first half of the 2011-12 legislative session, several welfare reform measures were signed into law to address waste, fraud and abuse in the system.  Those measures include implementing a cross-reference system on an applicant’s eligibility, subjecting drug felons to random drug testing, and ensuring applicants only receive benefits in their county of residence.


Governor Signs Sudden Cardiac Arrest Bill into Law


Gov. Tom Corbett signed into law this week a measure to protect student athletes from sudden cardiac arrest.  House Bill 1610 will ensure coaches and athletic directors are properly educated about sudden cardiac arrest and trained to watch for symptoms.  The law also will ensure parents receive information about the nature and warning signs of the disease.  In addition, coaches, parents and students will be required to take online training about the conditions that would require players to be removed from games and practices if they show symptoms.  If a student athlete exhibits symptoms, he or she would be removed from play or practice until an evaluation is made by an appropriate medical professional and the student is cleared to return to athletic activity.  The free informational training for coaches and sports officials will be available online through the Department of Health’s website.


Lawmakers Work to Protect Public Safety


The state House is working to improve public safety for Pennsylvanians by enacting bills that ensure the punishment fits the crime for offenders in the Commonwealth.  The House Judiciary Committee recently approved House Bill 2189 to increase penalties for impersonating a law enforcement officer. Under the bill, the crime would be classified as a third-degree felony, punishable by a fine of up to $15,000 and a maximum penalty of seven years in prison.  The full House also voted to approve House Bill 2331 to impose a five-year minimum sentence without parole for felons caught illegally possessing firearms. The bill would impose additional penalties for a subsequent offense.  Lawmakers have made public safety a priority this session, adopting laws to strengthen the state’s Megan’s Law by closing loopholes dealing with homeless or transient sex offenders; banning the production and distribution of bath salts; and strengthening the penalties for those who participate in drug delivery resulting in death.

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