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Legislative Review

The following is a list of legislation supported by either the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference and/or the Pennsylvania Catholic Health Association. This list will be updated as legislation is reviewed.

Education Related Legislation

  • House Bill 1442 and Senate Bill 980 are identical bills that would establish a grant program for parents of pre-school students in the Commonwealth. Parents could use the grants to pay for attendance at established pre-school programs in nonpublic schools, charter schools, public schools, and Head Start agencies. Read Full House Bill/Read Full Senate Bill.
  • House Bill 752 would increase the number of Educational Improvement Tax Credits (EITC) and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credits (OSTC) available to businesses so that even more students can attend the school that best meets their needs. Read Full Bill. Read more about school choice here.

Social Concerns Related Legislation

  • House Bill 1948 would ban all dismemberment abortions in Pennsylvania, as well as all abortions after 20 weeks, when the baby can feel pain and risks to the health of the mother increase significantly. This barbaric late-term procedure carries significant risk to the health of the mother and requires the baby’s limbs to be torn from his or her body, yet it is still legal here in Pennsylvania. Read Full Bill. Send a message to your legislators to vote YES on HB 1948.
  • House Bill 1799 would clarify in the law that “murder” includes murder of an unborn child and a conviction for third degree murder of an unborn child, together with previous convictions of third degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, murder of an unborn child, or voluntary manslaughter of an unborn child will result in a life sentence of imprisonment. Read Full Bill.
  • Senate Bill 851 would ensure that juvenile victims of human trafficking are not prosecuted as criminals and that support services are made available to them. The bill would develop a statewide protocol for services to sexually exploited children, including safe long-term housing, access to education, life skills training, trauma therapy, treatment for alcohol dependency, and medical and dental care. Read Full Bill.
  • House Bill 262 aims to better protect potential sex trafficking victims by regulating adult-oriented establishments and training law enforcement. Many victims may start off dancing or stripping in clubs, but then are coerced into prostitution or pornography. This bill prevents individuals convicted of prostitution or child exploitation crimes from owning or working in such a place. Read Full Bill.
  • House Bill 711 would eliminate the fees for mandated background checks for volunteers who have direct contact with children. Read Full Bill.
  • Senate Bill 200 and House Bill 400, a similar bill that already passed the House, would increase and monitor internships, on the job training experience, and full and part-time employment opportunities for high school students with disabilities. Only 2 in 10 young people with disabilities are employed and they are more than twice as likely to live below the federal poverty line. This bill aims to give youth with disabilities who have the ability to work to learn new skills and improve their future. Read Senate Bill/  Read House Bill.
  • House Bill 1623 would prioritize public funds to certain entities providing women’s health care and  prohibits the Department of Health from contracts with or grants to any entity that performs abortions (except federally qualified abortions) or maintains or operates a facility where such abortions are performed. Read Full Bill. Read more about women’s health funding prioritization and send a message to your legislator urging his/her support.

Health Care Related Legislation

  • House Bill 1100 would require employers to provide workplace accommodations for nursing mothers, including paid and unpaid break time and a private room other than a bathroom. The accommodations would provide a positive message in support of mothers as well as the benefits of breast milk for the health of the baby.  It would also be a valuable tool for workplace retention of employees. Read Full Bill.
  • House Bill 1657 would prevent third-party preauthorization by health insurance companies from interfering with the physician-patient relationship. The bill aims to create transparency and greater accountability of managed care organizations and their utilization review entities. Read Full Bill.
  • Senate Bill 1156 would add health care providers such as hospital personnel and doctors to the list of professionals required to undergo background checks under the Child Protective Services Law. It is another step in ensuring the safety of Pennsylvania’s children.  Read Full Bill.
  • Senate Bill 4 and its companion, House Bill 173, propose a constitutional amendment that would clarify that it is the exclusive role of the legislature to write laws providing for the qualifications for institutions of purely public charity. Catholic hospitals, long-term care facilities, soup kitchens, homeless shelters and other charitable ministries are good examples of what should qualify as purely public charities because they make valuable contributions to the common good.  Read Full Senate Bill/House Bill
  • Senate Bill 292 would protect the rights of health care providers, including pharmacists and health care facilities, to exercise their religious, moral, or ethical principles and refuse to participate in care, treatment, or procedures for certain enumerated health care services if they find them contrary to their beliefs. Read Full Bill
  • Senate Bill 58 protects hospitals that donate medicine, medical supplies, and equipment for humanitarian assistance from civil liability if the donations are reasonably believed to be in good condition and are given in good faith. Read Full Bill
  • Senate Bill 21 would encourage early out-patient treatment of chronic mental illness before more acute problems develop which would lead to in-patient treatment. Read Full Bill
  • Senate Bill 547 would create a registry of advance health care directives in the PA Department of Health. Read Full Bill.
  • Senate Bill 717 and House Bill 765 would modernize the Professional Nursing Law to enable nurse practitioners to provide high quality health care to more patients and lower health care costs by expanding their roles. Read Full Senate Bill/Read Full House Bill.
  • House Bill 630 would establish a patient’s bill of rights for palliative care and pain management. Terminally ill patients would have a right to be informed by a physician of all the available options for their terminal care. The bill would also establish a palliative care/pain management task force in the Department of Health to help patients gain access to palliative care and propose solutions to gaps in services. Read Full Bill.
  • House Bill 1067 would require a Department of Health license for urgent care centers. The bill would implement oversight of the quality and safety of these centers to assure they are meeting the same standards required of other health care entities. Read Full Bill.
  • House Bill 289 would prohibit health insurance policies from imposing a preexisting condition exclusion that relates to pregnancy and provides for further coverage of maternity care. Read Full Bill.
  • House Bill 585 and Senate Bill 902 would prohibit discrimination against any potential organ transplant on the basis of physical or mental disability alone. Read House Bill/Read Senate Bill.
  • House Bill 786 and Senate Bill 119 aim to protect vulnerable older adults by further requiring background checks for all employees of dependent care services and specifying crimes for which an applicant could be barred from getting that kind of job. Read House Bill/Read Senate Bill.
  • House Bill 858 would create an online registry for real-time availability of acute mental health beds, types of treatments and services available, and other information. The registry would be accessible to employees of mental health facilities and health care professionals. Read Full Bill.
  • House Bill 1064 amends the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error (MCARE) to protect medical professionals from liability for actions arising out of emergency care or failure to act unless such action or inaction is found grossly negligent. Read Full Bill.
  • Senate Bill 750 and House Bill 1504 would allow courts to order persons to obtain assisted out-patient treatment for mental health if they are deemed to be “unlikely to survive safely in the community without supervision based on a clinical determination.” The legislation would encourage early treatment of chronic mental illness before more acute problems develop that would lead to inpatient treatment. Read Senate Bill/Read House Bill.
  • House Bill 1238 would provide qualifications for registered nurse-clinical specialists to allow them to manage preventative health care services, and diagnose and manage deviations of wellness and long-term illnesses. This bill would address the increased need for advance practice registered nurses brought on by health care reform. Read Full Bill.

Other Legislation

The PCC and PCHA oppose the following legislation:

  • House Bill 1947 would remove the criminal statute of limitations (SoL) for childhood sexual abuse and raise the civil SoL from age 30 to 50 moving forward.  It also retroactively extends the civil SoL from survivor’s age 30 to age 50. This bill would prospectively, but not retroactively, lift sovereign immunity so someone who is abused in a public institution in the future could sue the school district or government agency, but not in the past. To put it another way, civil claims that are currently time-barred would be revived until the victim reaches age 50 but only if that abuse occurred in a non-profit setting, as public schools and agencies would still be protected by sovereign immunity.  Nonprofit and private organizations like Catholic parishes and schools could be sued for past cases, but not public schools. Read Full Bill. Urge lawmakers to oppose unfair changes to statutes of limitations.
  • House Bill 1510 and Senate Bill 974 would add “gender identity or expression” and “sexual orientation” to Pennsylvania’s non-discrimination law. As written the legislation would not adequately protect religious ministries. It would infringe on our ability to hire people who follow the teachings of the Church. It would punish the Church and individuals who share its beliefs without regard to their rights of conscience. Read House Bill/Read Senate Bill. Learn more about religious liberty concerns here.
  • Senate Bill 542 would mandate hospitals and health care facilities to provide emergency contraception to victims of sexual assault in all cases with no conscience exception. Catholic health care facilities are committed to treating victims with compassion, sensitivity and respect. In the majority of cases, emergency contraception is administered. If however medical tests suggest that conception may have occurred, then giving the drug would interfere with implantation and in effect abort a newly conceived human life. The legislation leaves no exception for this rare circumstance. Read Full Bill.
  • Senate Bill 549 and House Bill 943 would legalize doctor-prescribed suicide. Read Senate Bill/Read House Bill. Learn more about the dangers of this legislation and send a message to legislators against it.
  • Senate Bill 553 and House Bill 1426 would impose a legislative mandate on staff requirements and work assignments for hospitals. It would interfere with the needed flexibility to base staffing on changing circumstances and patient care needs. Read Senate Bill/Read House Bill.

Review legislation that has been passed this session