Following is a listing of legislative and executive action for the week of June 17. Members of the General Assembly were scheduled to return to session June 24.
Health care plans provided through exchanges established under Obamacare would be prohibited from providing coverage for elective abortions under legislation signed by Governor Tom Corbett.
The federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act allows states to opt out of requiring the exchanges to provide coverage for abortions. Pennsylvania joins 17 other states in opting out under the provision.
State Senator Richard Alloway II, R-Adams, announced that he would introduce legislation to ease the application process for licenses to carry concealed firearms.
Under current law, “concealed-carry” applications must be submitted to the sheriff of the county in which applicants reside or to the police commissioner in Philadelphia.
Alloway said his proposal would allow applicants to file with a sheriff in an county adjoining the one they live in.
“The discussion of onerous new gun-control measures at the federal level has led to a dramatic increase in the number of individuals applying for a concealed-carry permit in many counties throughout the state,” Alloway said in a statement. “We need to explore ways to ease this burden on counties so applicants are not left waiting for months on end for their application to be considered.”
Republicans in the state House of Representatives have rejected proposed amendments to legislation, S 4, that aims to clarify that a “purely public charity” is ineligible for property tax. House Democrats argued that too many properties are now classified as belonging to charities and local governments and school districts have fewer and fewer properties to tax.
The bill is a response to the state Supreme Court’s 2012 ruling in Mesivtah v. Pike County Board of Assessment Appeals, which placed the property tax exemption of some charities in doubt.
“It is unfortunate that last year’s court ruling has led to new challenges regarding the charitable status of similar institutions and has created a great deal of uncertainty surrounding the law,” said state Senator Mike Brubaker, R-Lancaster. “Our goal with Senate Bill 4 is simple: to give the legislature the sole authority to establish criteria for a tax exemption, thereby providing a clear avenue to protecting our charities which serve the interests of our communities throughout this commonwealth.”
Corbett signed legislation, HB 492, that amends the Crime Victims Act to allow a victim or his or her representative to appear before the Board of Probation and Parole during the parole process of an inmate.
“We have an obligation to honor the rights and sometimes the memories of the people who have suffered from crime,” Corbett said. “That’s why we needed this bill to make sure that Pennsylvania leads the nation when it comes to acknowledging that just as criminals have rights, victims have them as well.”
The House approved a measure, HB 1462, that raises the threshold on custodial account transfers to minors.
The legislation updates the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA) to increase the threshold from $25,000 to $50,000 for court approval of a transfer of money from a custodial account to a minor.
Currently, the UTMA allows someone to make a gift to a minor, either in a will or without one, without putting the money directly in the hands of a minor. Instead, a custodial account is set up at a bank and a custodian is appointed. Transfers from the custodial account may be made for the benefit of the minor without court approval as long as the transfer does not exceed $25,000.