Senate Bill 554 would provide specialized services to victims of sex trafficking under the age of 18 instead of facing charges in the juvenile justice system. The bill would establish a statewide protocol to provide local services including safe and stable housing, access to education, employment and life-skills training, counseling, treatment for addictions, health care, and more. Rather than facing delinquency charges for prostitution, these children will get the help and support necessary to break free from enslavement. SB 554 passed the Senate unanimously and now awaits consideration in the House. Read Bill. Learn more about human trafficking in Pennsylvania. Urge your lawmaker to support a better life for trafficking victims.
Senate Bill 703 would abolish the death penalty in Pennsylvania and replace it with life imprisonment. Read Bill.
House Bill 57 amends the Adoption Act to streamline the process of terminating parental rights in routine adoption proceedings. The bill passed 180-5 in the House and will now be considered in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Read Bill.
House Bill 58 would also amend the Adoption Act to reduce the time period within which consent to adoption may be revoked. It would give birth-parents 14 days in which to reconsider the adoption decision; currently the law is 30 days. The bill passed the House 177-8 and is now in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Read Bill.
House Bill 119/SB 446 would require licensure for certified drug and alcohol recovery houses to enforce minimum safety standards. This policy is welcomed by the recovery houses operated by many Catholic Charities agencies. This is one of several important bills being considered to combat a growing epidemic of opioid abuse. HB 119 passed the House with a unanimous vote and will now be considered by the Senate Health and Services Committee. SB 446 passed the Senate unanimously then was amended in the House. Read HB 119. Read SB 446.
House Bill 1076 would create a land bank of blighted properties and a process for transforming them into safe housing for the homeless. Read Bill.
Health Care Related Legislation
Senate Bill 24, the Conscientious Objection Act, 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 Bill.
Senate Bill 108 would prohibit discrimination against any potential life-saving organ transplants on the basis of physical or mental disability alone, despite assistance to comply with post-transplant medical follow-up care. This addresses a serious concern that some organ donation organizations refrain from recommending a transplant due to a patient’s psychiatric issues, autism, or other developmental disability. Read Bill.
Senate Bill 179 would develop a statewide, web-based, acute mental health bed registry maintained by the Department of Health. The information would be accessible to mental health and health care professionals to make it easier for them to locate proper care for patients in need. Read Bill.
Senate Bill 218 would provide for an advance health care directive registry. Read Bill.
Senate Bill 599/House Bill 1233 would encourage early treatment of chronic mental illness by providing for opportunities for court-ordered out-patient treatment for at risk individuals. House Bill 1233 passed the House unanimously and now sits in the Senate Human Services Committee. Read HB 1233. Read SB 599.
Senate Bill 743 would encourage early outpatient treatment for mental illness before more acute problems develop requiring in-patient care. Read Bill.
House Bill 100/Senate Bill 25 would replace the certification requirements to a licensure designation for certified registered nurse practitioners. Read House Bill.
House Bill 825 would provide for an emergency drug and alcohol detoxification program. The PA Department of Health would administer a program to utilize existing beds in health care facilities to better serve people with a substance abuse emergency. Read HB 825.
House Bill 197 would establish the Patient’s Bill of Rights for Palliative Care and Pain Management and outlines the rights of patients to be informed by a physician about all options for terminal care. Read Bill.
House Bill 1139 would allow emergency service providers to serve as safe havens for abandoned newborns. The bill passed the House unanimously and awaits consideration in the Senate. Read Bill.
House Bill 1388 repeals the expiration date of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to allow it to continue beyond December 31, 2017. The bill passed the House unanimously and now awaits consideration in the Senate. Read Bill.
The PCC and PCHA oppose the following legislation:
Senate Bill 148 would mandate health insurance coverage of certain treatments for infertility that may be immoral and contrary to Catholic teaching. PCHA and PCC oppose this bill due to potential conflicts with religious conscience; however, we recognize that infertility is a medical problem that can be treated with procedures that do not violate Catholic moral principles. PCHA and PCC will try to amend the bill to allow for this distinction. Read Bill.
Senate Bill 214/House Bill 1500 would mandate how a health care agency should staff its facility and would interfere with needed flexibility to base staffing on changing circumstances and patient care needs. Read SB 214. Read HB 1500.
Senate Bill 238 would allow for doctor-prescribed suicide. Legalizing this practice normalizes suicide as the solution to suffering, encourages decisions to be made based on cost containment instead of human dignity, and relies on inaccurate predictions of quality of life to determine a person’s worth. Read Bill.