Senator Baker E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Senate Passes Public Safety Bills Targeting Human Trafficking, Opioid Overdoses
  • Senate Judiciary Committee Advances Bill Establishing Bail Guidelines
  • Athletic Training Bills Passed by Senate
  • Struggling Homeowners Can Apply for Assistance
  • Calling on Shapiro to Send PA National Guard to Defend Texas Border
  • Recognizing Agriculture’s Impact on Our Lives

Senate Passes Public Safety Bills Targeting Human Trafficking, Opioid Overdoses

The Pennsylvania Senate approved two measures this week boosting community safety by targeting opioid overdoses and human trafficking. Both bills, which head to the House of Representatives for consideration, are part of the Senate Republican effort to improve community safety across Pennsylvania.

My proposal, Senate Bill 1111, would make necessary changes to Megan’s Law to ensure that individuals who are convicted of certain human trafficking offenses are subject to the same reporting and evaluation requirements as any other sexual offender.

By approving this bill, we are bolstering the effectiveness of our law enforcement efforts and enhancing public safety. Every individual subjected to such reprehensible crimes deserves justice and every community deserves protection from such predators. This measure underscores our unwavering commitment to ensuring that no victim is forgotten and that our neighborhoods remain safe for all.

Senate Bill 1054 strengthens the Overdose Information Network (ODIN) law, which requires all law enforcement in Pennsylvania to input reports of an overdose within 72 hours of the incident into the ODIN system. The ODIN database enables law enforcement agencies to quickly record, analyze and share information concerning fatal and non-fatal drug overdoses and naloxone administrations. The bill would ensure overdose reporting by EMS providers is incorporated into the statewide mapping system. EMS providers are responsible for handling more than 80% of overdoses annually in Pennsylvania.

Senate Judiciary Committee Advances Bill Establishing Bail Guidelines

This week, the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced Senate Bill 1120 to establish clear guidelines for courts when deciding what bail to set following an arrest. If a court believes that someone is a danger to public safety, they can’t let that person go without any bail or with an unsecured monetary condition. The bill also states that if a person fits the criteria of posing a threat to public safety, the arresting officer must bring them before the court for the purpose of setting bail. This includes individuals that were arrested for repeated violent crimes or major fentanyl traffickers.

In response to incidents with police officers in Scranton, I offered an amendment to add two crimes relating to law enforcement to the list of circumstances that make a defendant a “person posing a threat to public safety.”

The first is assault on a law enforcement officer to include shooting at a police officer or making them come into contact with bodily fluid. The second is evading arrest on foot. 

These situations are incredibly dangerous, not only for the police officer, but also for the public at large. 

This bill helps to keep these criminals off the streets, safeguarding our communities from the potential harm they may cause.

Athletic Training Bills Passed by Senate

Two bills I sponsored to modernize the capabilities of athletic trainers in Pennsylvania were passed by the Senate this week.

Senate Bill 559 and Senate Bill 560 would give athletic trainers the ability to deliver a wider scope of health care services to more individuals.

In the current law governing athletic trainers, the definition for invasive procedures is undefined and subject to strict interpretation. This can prohibit life-saving techniques such as using an epi-pen or administering a rescue inhaler or insulin. The bills clarify that under a written protocol with a licensed physician procedures such as blister and nail care, administration of Naloxone, and certain medication injections can occur. The bills would also expand the definition of a physically active person to include an individual who participates in a sport, athletic competition, performing art, recreational activity or military exercise.

In Pennsylvania, athletic trainers are health care professionals who are board-certified and licensed. They deliver their services under the supervision of a licensed physician. However, their scope of practice is limited to exclusively assisting physically active individuals. The existing definition is outdated and overly restrictive. These bills aim to modernize the definitions to accurately represent the current education, training and certification of athletic trainers, while prioritizing patient safety. Importantly, the services would continue to be administered under the guidance of a physician.

Pennsylvania currently has 23 accredited athletic training programs – the highest in the nation.

The current limitations placed on athletic training graduates force them to seek employment opportunities in other states. We must align Pennsylvania’s laws with the current practices of athletic trainers to retain and attract health care professionals.

The Pennsylvania Athletic Trainers’ Society and numerous other health care groups and providers support the bills, which now head to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Struggling Homeowners Can Apply for Assistance

To help homeowners struggling as a result of pandemic-related financial hardships, the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) reopened a program that had been paused to address a backlog of applicants.

The majority of pending applications has been processed and an assessment of remaining American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 funds has been made, so PHFA is accepting additional applicants until the remaining monies are exhausted.

New applicants can use the funds for pandemic-related mortgage reinstatement, forward mortgage assistance, tax assistance and delinquent utility bills. Interested Pennsylvania homeowners can find more information, eligibility requirements and instructions about how to submit an application here.

Calling on Shapiro to Send PA National Guard to Defend Texas Border

The Senate approved a measure calling on Gov. Josh Shapiro to protect Pennsylvania communities by supporting Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s request to respond to America’s illegal immigration crisis.

Senate Resolution 251 implores Shapiro to reverse course and deploy the Pennsylvania National Guard along Texas’s southern border with Mexico as part of Operation Lone Star. The border security initiative has led to more than 500,000 illegal immigrant apprehensions, more than 40,000 criminal arrests and the seizure of more than 468 million lethal doses of fentanyl, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.

A 2023 report indicates at least 251,000 illegal immigrants reside in Pennsylvania with an annual burden of more than $1.6 billion on taxpayers. That equates to a cost of approximately $318 per Pennsylvania household annually, according to the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

Recognizing Agriculture’s Impact on Our Lives

In Pennsylvania, we are blessed that agriculture is one of our top industries as it helps to provide us with food security without having to rely as much on other states or even other countries.

National Agriculture Week, observed March 17-24, encourages every American to understand how food products are produced; appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant, and affordable products; value the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy; and consider career opportunities in the agriculture, food, and fiber industries.


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