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Senator Don White

Harrisburg Happenings
A Report on the Legislative Session Week
November 16, 2015

Dear Friend,

I am pleased to send you my Session Wrap Up e-newsletter. This e-newsletter features events and legislative activities during the Session Week of November 16, 2015.

If you find this e-newsletter useful, I invite you to visit my website for more information about your state government. If you do not wish to receive these e-newsletters, please click the "unsubscribe" button at the bottom of the page. If you would like to contact my office, please go to my web page and click the "contact" button. Please do not "reply" directly to this e-mail.


Don White

Caucuses Weigh Impact of “Clean Power Plan”

On Tuesday, I participated in a joint public hearing of the Senate and House Coal Caucuses. We heard testimony from employers in the energy industry who are very concerned about President Obama’s Clean Power Plan and how it could negatively impact the economy of western Pennsylvania. I’m committed to doing all I can to make sure the EPA doesn’t create a problem -- in search of a solution -- that cripples our economy.

For more information and video from the hearing click here.

Senate Passes Bills Designating Indiana County Bridges for War Heroes

On Monday, the Senate approved bills I introduced designating two Indiana County bridges as memorials to service members who lost their lives through combat service.

Senate Bill 988 designates a bridge on State Route 403 over Two Lick Creek in the Borough of Clymer as the “Sergeant James Robert Pantall Memorial Bridge.” I introduced this measure at the request of the Clymer American Legion.

Senate Bill 989 designates a bridge on State Route 580 over the Susquehanna River in Cherry Tree Borough as the “Airman Second Class Gerald Emmett Johnson Memorial Bridge. ” I introduced this bill at the request of Johnson’s family members.

I am pleased that my colleagues approved these bills to designate these bridges as memorials to two men who served our nation and gave their lives in the call of duty. These bridges will serve as lasting reminders of their service and sacrifice.

Sergeant James Robert Pantall grew up in the Borough of Clymer and attended Penns Manor High School. He served in Vietnam as a member of the 329th Transportation Company, 5th Transportation Command. On Nov. 3, 1970, Sergeant Pantall was a passenger on Landing Craft Utility #63 when it capsized five nautical miles south of the port at Tan My, Vietnam. His remains were not recovered.

Airman Second Class Gerald Emmett Johnson of Arcadia was a crew member of a B-29A Superfortress Bomber with the 371st Bomber Squadron, 307th Bomber Wing during the Korean War. On Oct. 23, 1951, the aircraft was shot down by enemy MIGs over Namsi Airfield and Airman Second Class Johnson was taken as a prisoner of war. He was declared dead on Jan. 28, 1954.

Senate Bills 988 and 989 now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Senate Recognizes “Drugs Kill Dreams Day in Pennsylvania”

The Senate adopted my Resolution on Tuesday that designates January 24, 2016 as “Drugs Kill Dreams Day.”

Drugs Kill Dreams is one of a number of programs throughout the state that partners with schools, churches and other community organizations to share education materials and prevention messages with young people.

It effectively and successfully promotes drug and alcohol prevention awareness in schools and communities throughout Western Pennsylvania with the strong belief that if we increase prevention we will decrease addiction and crime.

The organization -- which serves as a model for many similar community-based drug prevention programs across the Commonwealth -- was established in 1994 by Armstrong County District Judge, J. Gary DeComo. In 2000, it was renamed “Drugs Kill Dreams” following a fourth grade poster contest.

Click for audio and video of my comments from the floor of the Senate on his Resolution.

Committee Holds Hearing on Breast Cancer Screening Legislation

The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee, which I chair, held a public hearing on Wednesday on legislation that would require health insurance companies to cover supplemental breast cancer screening.

Senate Bill 842, introduced by Senator Bob Mensch, would extend mandated insurance coverage to ultrasound screening and magnetic resonance imaging if a mammogram demonstrates heterogeneous or dense breast tissue or if a woman is believed to be at increased risk for breast cancer due to family history or prior personal history of breast cancer, positive genetic testing or other indications as deemed medically necessary by the woman’s physician.

While about 40 percent of women who get mammograms have dense breasts, almost 95 percent of women are unaware of their own breast density according to a recent poll. Currently insurance companies do not cover these extra screening costs for women with dense breasts. Younger women are more at risk since about 50 percent of women under 50 years of age have dense breasts.

Representatives from the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition and the health insurance industry presented testimony at the public hearing.

Click here for more information and video from the public hearing.

Voters to Decide Mandatory Retirement Age for Judges

The Senate approved legislation this week that will give Pennsylvania voters the ultimate decision on whether the mandatory retirement age of judges should be increased.

House Bill 89 increases the mandatory retirement age for judges and magisterial district judges from 70 to 75 years in the Judicial Code. This bill only becomes effective if a proposed constitutional amendment, House Bill 90,which was approved in two consecutive legislative sessions, is adopted by the voters.

The Senate approved eight bills this week and sent them to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Senate Bill 62 amends state law regarding probationary driver’s licenses.

Senate Bill 146 requires passengers in a vehicle to render aid to any person injured in an accident.

Senate Bill 518 gives people the power to plan for the management and disposition of their digital assets in the same way they can make plans for their tangible property: by providing instructions in a will, trust, or power of attorney.

Senate Bill 927 requires Senate approval of Pennsylvania’s representatives on the Delaware River Bridge Commission.

House Bill 934 amends the Public Welfare Code to codify the Keystone Education Yields Success (KEYS) Program. The bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.

Senate Bill 1045 standardizes the definition of “Veteran” by defining the term “Conditions other than Dishonorable.”

Senate Bill 1046 standardizes the process for promotion on the retired list of the Pennsylvania National Guard.

House Bill 1411 brings the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania into compliance with changes made by Congress to the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act. The bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.

Eight Bills Sent to Governor

Eight bills received final legislative approval this week and were sent to the Governor for enactment into law.

Senate Bill 77 provides regulatory relief for beagle trainers.

House Bill 239 amends the County Pension Law to further provide for definitions and for supplemental benefits.

Senate Bill 609 creates the Prostate Cancer Surveillance, Education, Detection and Treatment Act.

House Bill 753 establishes the Pennsylvania Long-Term Care Council within the Department of Aging.

Senate Bill 775 updates and revises the Third Class City Code.

Senate Bill 791, which amends the Second Class Township Code further providing for removal of elected township officers for failure to perform duties.

Senate Bill 793 amends the Second Class Township Code to further provide for property maintenance codes, reserved powers, and the Uniform Construction Code.

Senate Bill 887 protects highway workers, first emergency responders and others from careless and reckless drivers traveling in work zones.

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