About the Children: Policy Updates from Pennsylvania

Happy Friday, everybody!

PA

HB 1653 – We’ve been watching this bill since it was first introduced back in October.   The governor signed it into law this week!

HB 1974 – This one’s an interesting one.  It is similar to  SB 1011 in that it concerns itself with the rights of victims of crimes.  HB 1974 does not appear to call for an amendment to the PA constitution, however.  “This legislation was considered in two prior sessions, HB 2646 from the 2013-2014 Session and last session as HB 186. During both sessions, the House passed the bill unanimously but the bill was not considered by the Senate.”  It made it to the Senate this past Monday.

HB 2065 – This was introduced this week, and, by my estimation is the first of its kind, at least in Pennsylvania.  “The legislation establishes a certified list of retired volunteers who would be willing to share their life-lessons, experience and hobbies with junior and high school students interested in enhancing their knowledge and skill sets. Older adults wishing to participate would be required to undergo criminal background checks and any other necessary requirements put forth by their school district….The list is meant to be unlimited in nature; encompassing a host of interests and lessons such as:

  • Conversation in a foreign language;
  • Discussing a specific trade such as wood working, plumbing, etc.
  • Learning more about a career path, i.e. spending time with a retired doctor to learn about the medical field, a journalist to learn about the media, an artist to learn about a career in the arts;
  • Learning a new hobby such as knitting, gardening, playing a musical instrument, etc.; or
  • Firsthand information about a historical event from a veteran or a nurse.

This is interesting, certainly, and I can see a lot of good in it.  Hopefully it can be integrated in other mentor programs and add benefit to what is already going on in schools around the state.

SB 1043 – This bill was reintroduced this week in the Senate.  It was Senate Bill 1135 in the previous session.  According to the memo, current law protects job applicants who have criminal records from being discriminated against due to their convict or felon status, but does not offer the same protections to people who already have the job and may be fired once their convict or felon status comes to light.  This could happen, for instance, if a person is assigned to a new supervisor who was previously not in a position to have firing power over them.  This bill will “clarify that criminal records may be used to justify an adverse employment decision against current employees only if the criminal records are relevant to the employee’s suitability for the particular position.”

SB 1051 – This bill was introduced on Wednesday.  If passed, it will “require the Department of Human Services (DHS) to include lead testing of water, paint, soil and dust in the licensing process for child daycare programs. It would prohibit licensing of any child daycare program while lead levels exceeds those recommended by the federal Centers for Disease Control. Current licensees would be required to develop an approved remediation program.”  It does not suggest any way for DHS to fund this testing, nor does it give any sort of subsidy for daycares that do not pass the test.  It doesn’t appear to want to fix any problems, so much as take away the licenses of underfunded daycares in impoverished urban areas.  So I would write your senator and point out these deficiencies.


Federal

HR 1057 – This bill was introduced in the house this week.  It aims to make the USPS criminally responsible for the trafficking of illegal substances through the mail.  The bill is called The Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention or the STOP Act of 2017.


Uplifting News

Our uplifting new story this week comes out of Philadelphia, where a public school just received a $25 million donation, thanks to a well-off alumnus.  The linked article also talks about the many large donations and fundraising efforts that concerned philanthropists have funneled to public education in the past.  It all serves as a helpful reminder that by serving our nation’s children, we are doing what’s best for all of us.

Thanks, and have a great weekend!

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