EMS TASK FORCE RELEASES REPORT
CCAP's EMS Task Force released its final report
and recommendations during the Association's Fall Conference in late
Emergency medical services (EMS) in Pennsylvania are
in crisis, affirmed by findings of multiple studies and most prominently in
the 2004 SR
60 report, and reaffirmed in the report of the legislature's SR
6 Commission, released in 2018. In late 2018, the CCAP membership
expressed a need to explore whether counties could help address the issues
the reports raise, with a focus on EMS. The Association assembled the CCAP
EMS Task Force, charging it with reviewing the causes and issues and to
make findings and recommendations, all in context of determining whether
counties are positioned to play any role in assuring reliable provision of
this vital public service.
The Task Force recommendations include reference to
the relevant SR 6 recommendations, the related policy considerations and a
discussion of opportunities for counties to contribute to the solution.
Broad topics include retention and recruitment, reimbursement rates,
funding, coverage, service models, risk reduction, EMS Act and regulations,
technology support, and training requirements. It does not call for county
assumption of the service, but instead focuses on means by which counties
can assist municipalities and service providers.
The Task Force report is available at www.pacounties.org
by selecting Resources and Reports under the Government Relations tab. The
Task Force will remain constituted through 2020 so that members can begin
to work on implementation of its recommendations.
ADDITIONAL ELECTION REFORMS SIGNED INTO LAW
On Nov. 27, Gov. Wolf
signed another set of election reforms into law, just weeks after the
enactment of major, substantive changes to the Election Code in Act
Rep. Matt Gabler
(R-Clearfield) originally introduced HB
227 to standardize the thresholds for petition signatures needed
to nominate a candidate for school board from a minimum of 100 to a minimum
of 10. While the underlying language remained in the bill, following the
November general election the Senate adopted several amendments to address
concerns raised by the use of new voting equipment in some counties.
amendment offered by Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York) on the Senate
floor removes language from the Election Code requiring numbered,
detachable ballot stubs, which are torn off before a ballot is fed through
a scanner. In addition, the language requires counties to provide supplies
to each polling place that will assure voters are able to mark their
ballots and then insert those ballots into the scanners in secret.
As amended, the Senate
and House unanimously approved the legislation, which became Act 94 of
2019. It took effect immediately.
STEIN CHALLENGES EXPRESSVOTE XL VOTING
A motion has been filed in the U.S. District Court
for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, asking the court to rescind the
certification of the ES&S ExpressVote XL voting system.
The motion was filed on behalf of Jill Stein, who
brought the lawsuit that resulted in a settlement agreement requiring the
replacement of existing voting systems in Pennsylvania with
voter-verifiable paper trail equipment by the April 2020 presidential
primary. Stein alleges in the motion that the use of the ExpressVote XL system
is a violation of that agreement because it tabulates votes by counting bar
codes printed by a machine on paper, rather than counting handwritten marks
made by voters themselves or made by ballot-marking devices that count the
marks corresponding to the candidates and questions.
About 200 voters filed a petition in July seeking
reconsideration of the state's approval of the ES&S system, also in
part on the basis of its use of the bar code. The petition alleged security
flaws and noncompliance with certain Election Code requirements. Contractor
SLI Compliance conducted the re-examination with PA Department of State
oversight, and the result maintained the certification of the system for
use in the commonwealth.
Philadelphia and Northampton counties had purchased
the ExpressVote XL system and deployed them in the Nov. 5 general election.
Cumberland County also plans to begin use of the system in the 2020 primary
election, and other counties have the system under consideration. The
commonwealth has until Dec. 12 to respond to the motion.
NEW PENNDOT SECRETARY NOMINATED; RICHARDS MOVES TO SEPTA
Gov. Wolf recently announced that he would nominate
Yassmin Gramian as secretary of the Department of Transportation (PennDOT),
with the imminent departure of secretary Leslie Richards to take the post
of general manager of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation
Richards, a former Montgomery County commissioner,
will take the helm at SEPTA in January 2020. She is also the first planner
to lead the Authority.
Gramian currently serves as the Executive Deputy
Secretary of PennDOT, and will assume the role of Acting Secretary
effective Dec. 6. Her appointment will be subject to confirmation by the
UPDATES TO STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR CHILD ABUSE
On Nov. 26, Gov. Wolf signed into law three bills to
address child sexual abuse in the commonwealth, following in the wake of a
grand jury report issued more than a year ago.
The key piece of legislation, HB
962, introduced by Rep. Mark Rozzi (D-Berks) and now Act 87 of 2019,
will give future victims of child abuse more time to file lawsuits,
extending the timeframe for victims to seek civil recourse against
institutions from age 40 to age 55. In addition, sexual abuse victims age
18 through 23 would be permitted to bring a civil action until they attain
the age of 30 (current law gives them two years), and a criminal action
within 20 years after the date of the offense, compared to the 12 years
under prior state law. In addition, Act 87 removes governmental immunity
for child sexual abuse cases where the abuse was caused by negligence of a
Relatedly, the General Assembly also approved HB
963 in November, which would amend the state constitution to create a
two-year window of time for retroactive lawsuits by victims whose statute
of limitations has already expired. As a constitutional amendment, the bill
would need to be approved again with the same language in the coming
2021-2022 session, and then approved by Pennsylvania voters via referendum.
Another new law, Act 88 of 2019 (HB
1051, Rep. Todd Stephens, R-Montgomery) increases the penalty from a
misdemeanor of the first degree to a felony of the third degree for the
ongoing failure of a mandated reporter to report continuing child sexual
abuse. Further, Act 89 of 2019 (HB
1171, Rep. Tarah Toohil, R-Luzerne) specifies that any current or past
confidentiality agreement with child sexual abuse victims is void and
unenforceable if it includes a provision that bans communications with law
SENATE APPROVES MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE
The Senate recently approved legislation that would
increase Pennsylvania's minimum wage for the first time since 2009, as part
of a compromise with Gov. Wolf to rescind pending regulatory amendments to
expand overtime pay eligibility.
Pennsylvania's current minimum wage is set at the
federal rate of $7.25 per hour. Senate
Bill 79, introduced by Sen. Christine Tartaglione, D-Philadelphia, was
amended by the Senate Labor and Industry Committee to increase that amount
over the next several years, to $8.00/hour effective July 1, 2020;
$8.50/hour effective Jan. 1, 2021; $9.00/hour effective July 1, 2021; and
$9.50/hour effective Jan. 1, 2022.
The amendment also added language requiring the
minimum wage and overtime requirements in the state to remain consistent
with federal rules until at least 2023, leading Department of Labor and
Industry Secretary Gerard Oleksiak to withdraw pending regulatory changes
that were scheduled for consideration by the state's Independent Regulatory
Review Commission. The final rule had been released on Oct. 17, and would
have raised the salary threshold for non-exempt employees to receive
overtime pay from the current $23,660 to $45,500 by 2022.
Following a 42-7 vote by the Senate, SB 79 now moves
to the House of Representatives where its future is unclear. In the
meantime, the federal Department of Labor is moving forward with its
overtime rule changes, which would increase the threshold to $35,568
beginning Jan. 1, 2020.
2020 JUDICIAL SALARIES
The Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts has
published the judicial salaries that will take effect on January 1, 2020,
in the Nov. 23, 2019, issue of the Pennsylvania Bulletin. The listing sets
the annual salary of a judge of the court of common pleas, against whose
pay the district attorney salary is also established, at $186,665. The full
listing of judicial salaries is available at http://www.pacodeandbulletin.gov/Display/pabull?file=/secure/pabulletin/data/vol49/49-47/1730.html.
2019 COUNTY PRIORITIES STATUS REPORT
In January 2019, CCAP members identified seven
priorities for 2019, including funding for voting systems, human services
funding and system reform, broadband expansion, and preventing substance
abuse and drug overdose, among others. An update on counties' progress on
these priorities has been posted at www.pacounties.org,
accessible by selecting Priorities under the Government Relations tab.