Senator Baker E-Newsletter

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In this update:

  • Void of Bridge Tolling Plan is a Victory for Pennsylvanians
  • Tribute to Native American Vets
  • Bill to Improve Medical Care for Patients Approved by Senate
  • Senate Acts to Improve Drug Overdose Tracking and Response
  • Legislation Boosting Safety of Child Care Facilities Set for Enactment
  • Increased Penalties for Hiring Unauthorized Workers Approved by Senate
  • Have a Happy Independence Day

Void of Bridge Tolling Plan is a Victory for Pennsylvanians

6/30/22 - P3 Initiative 

The Commonwealth Court issued a ruling that fully stops the Wolf Administration plan to toll nine major bridges across the state.  This decision as a major victory for Pennsylvanians who have expressed serious concerns with the impact that the bridge tolls would have on local communities.  The tolling plan had included a nine-mile stretch along Interstate 81 in Susquehanna County, and the Nescopeck Creek bridges on Interstate 80 in Luzerne County.

The new order voids the entire Major Bridge P3 Initiative, including the following bridges:

Without question, rising gasoline prices and inflation are serious concerns for every household as they claim a bigger piece of the family budget.  I would like to thank the many area residents and business owners who took the time over the last year to express their concerns about the additional costs the plan would impose, as well as the traffic delays and difficulties that would arise from people choosing to divert to a local road network to avoid tolls.  Read my full press release here.

Tribute to Native American Vets

It was great to be in Matamoras at Veterans Memorial Park and Education Center for the dedication of a monument paying tribute to Native American Veterans.  This marker, and the story it conveys, represent worthy contributions to our history.  When the explorers and colonists reached these shores, they encountered diverse groups of Native Americans.  The conquest of a continent was not a story of continuous glory, honor, and righteousness.  It was complicated, messy, and costly.  To be kind, moments of respect, generosity, and tolerance toward Native Americans were not prevalent.

Happily, we now see efforts to write Native Americans back into history. We should never forget to commend those who overcame generations of disparagement, displacement, and discrimination, to help defend and protect us and the virtues of American democracy.

Bill to Improve Medical Care for Patients Approved by Senate 

The Senate voted to improve the health care experience for patients by streamlining the prior authorization and step therapy processes for medical treatment. The bill goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.  

Prior authorization means that, to qualify for payment, physicians and other health care providers must obtain advance approval from a health plan before a specific procedure or service. Step therapy requires patients to try prescription drug treatment options chosen by the patient’s insurance provider. 

Senate Bill 225 would set standards for commercial insurance plans, as well as Medicaid plans, when seeking prior authorization approval and with step therapy protocols. The legislation would also provide a timely process for appeals determinations. 

A recent American Medical Association survey found that prior authorization delays overwhelmingly result in patients forgoing treatment, leading to negative clinical impacts. 

Senate Acts to Improve Drug Overdose Tracking and Response

The Senate approved legislation to improve drug overdose tracking and response in Pennsylvania, which ranks third in the nation for overdose deaths. The bill will be sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Senate Bill 1152 would require law enforcement and emergency medical services agencies to report all overdose incidents within 72 hours to the statewide Overdose Information Network or any other platform approved by the Pennsylvania State Police to capture real-time overdose reporting.

The State Police will be required to document the numbers, trends and patterns associated with known and suspected overdoses and issue an annual report available in an online format for reference by public officials and the general public.

Access to real-time data will help public officials ensure that adequate overdose reversal drug supplies are available, substance use outreach efforts are enhanced and law enforcement investigations are undertaken to interrupt sources of deadly substances.

Legislation Boosting Safety of Child Care Facilities Set for Enactment

Legislation to improve safety in state-regulated child care facilities was approved by the Senate and is set to be signed into law.

Senate Bill 563 was introduced in response to a tragic fire that claimed the lives of five young children in Erie in 2019. Only one smoke detector was found in the care home, and it was in the attic.

The measure designates the locations where smoke alarms must be installed in child care facilities and require the alarms be interconnected so that if one is triggered, they all go off.

Increased Penalties for Hiring Unauthorized Workers Approved by Senate

A bill to improve enforcement of the construction industry’s use of the federal E-Verify system was approved by the Senate and sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

The federal E-Verify system determines the eligibility of employees – both U.S. and foreign citizens – to work in America. The Public Works Employment Verification Act already requires all public construction contractors and subcontractors to use E-Verify to confirm the legal employment eligibility of new hires. However, despite these requirements, the practice of hiring unauthorized workers continues due to the enforcement mechanisms being weak.

Senate Bill 1147 would make the financial penalties more meaningful. Rather than the current penalty of $250 – $1,000, violators would face a fine of $2,500 – $25,000. Senate Bill 1147 streamlines enforcement and reduces the need for time-consuming audits by requiring construction contractors to be enrolled in E-Verify upfront and makes it a punishable offense if they are not.

Have a Happy Independence Day

I hope you have a great July 4th holiday with friends and family as we celebrate the birth of our great nation, which remains the best hope for freedom and liberty on Earth.


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