State Capitol Roundup
10/25/2013

House Passes Bill to Save Lives
With Confidential Prescription Drug Monitoring Database
  

The House has passed legislation to combat the rising incidence of prescription drug abuse in the Commonwealth. House Bill 1694 would replace the current database only covering Schedule II drugs and now include Schedules II through V prescription drugs. This would be an added help to doctors, pharmacists and law enforcement to improve patient care and prescribing practices, help uncover drug diversion, prevent doctor-shopping and aid in training health care professionals. The Office of National Drug Control Policy identifies prescription drugs as the second-most abused drugs in the nation behind marijuana. This bill is not intended to interfere with the legitimate use of prescription medications. With the vote of 191-7, the bill goes to the Senate for consideration. 

Bills to Aid Volunteer Emergency Service Personnel
Pass House Unanimously
  

The House passed two measures this week designed to help local volunteer emergency responders. House Bill 1632 would create a voluntary tax credit for private sector employers that allow employees who volunteer as first responders to leave work for responding to emergencies or attend training, without penalty. Current law only allows those volunteers to respond before or after their job shifts, not during the job hours. The tax credit bill was created as an incentive for local businesses to allow their employees to respond to emergencies during work time and still collect their wages. The ranks of Pennsylvania’s volunteers have dwindled since the 1980s, making it more difficult to maintain adequate manpower, especially during the daytime hours. House Bill 1706 would increase loan amounts available for volunteer ambulance and fire companies under the Volunteer Loan Assistance Program (VLAP). The VLAP program loan amounts have not been increased in more than 20 years, and this bill would bring the amount of the loans up to date with today’s costs. The bills go to the Senate for consideration. 

Job Creation Effort Through Lawsuit Abuse Reform
Continues with Bill Passage
  

Continuing the effort to reform the civil justice system by combatting lawsuit abuse, the House unanimously passed legislation to allow doctors and other health care providers to be sympathetic with patients without the fear of being sued. Senate Bill 379, which reflects a long-term House effort to improve this issue, allows doctors and providers to apologize or offer expressions of grief without the fear that those words would be used against them in court. Defined as “benevolent gesture,” the apology or expression of grief must have been made prior to the commencement of a malpractice filling, arbitration or mediation. The bill was signed by the governor on Wednesday. 

Fall Weather Conditions Prompt Expanded Awareness
of Driving Safety

With increasing falling leaves and rain, attention is being drawn to driving safety in Pennsylvania. Weather conditions and leaves combining on roads and bridges make it more difficult for vehicles to come to a complete stop. In addition, fog, glare from lower sun angles and frost are prevalent in the fall season. Tips on handling the fall driving conditions are available at Rep. Kerry Benninghoff’s (R-Centre/Mifflin) website at www.KerryBenninghoff.com by clicking on “Fall Weather Conditions” on the left-hand side.
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