Pennsylvania State Capitol. Pennsylvania State Capitol. Photo credit: Zack Frank/Shutterstock.com

Following is a listing of executive and legislative action from Sept. 28 and the week of Oct. 1. Both houses of the General Assembly were in recess at press time. The state House of Representatives was scheduled to return to session on Tuesday. The Pennsylvania Senate was set to come back on Oct. 15.

Domestic Abuse

The Pennsylvania Senate on Oct. 3 approved on a 43-5 vote a measure that would restrict gun ownership by persons adjudicated as domestic abusers.

Gov. Tom Wolf on the same day announced his plans to immediately sign the domestic abuser gun violence prevention bill, House Bill 2060, sponsored by state Rep. Marguerite Quinn, R-Bucks, and thanked advocates for their work on behalf of domestic abuse survivors and future victims.

“For years, victims and advocates have fought tirelessly for passage of this commonsense and urgently needed reform,” Wolf said in a statement. “Today is about them but I am proud of their work and to have stood with them in this fight.”

HB 2060 provides for the relinquishment of firearms and firearm licenses by persons convicted of a domestic violence offense. It also requires persons who have had a final protection-from-abuse order entered against them to give their firearms to a sheriff, attorney or licensed gun dealer.

“There is no better time to advance this legislation to the governor’s desk than during October’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month,” Quinn said in a statement. “I am grateful to everyone who recognized this legislation for simply being what it is—a responsible way for convicted and proven abusers to relinquish their firearms sooner and to a non-related third party so that more people don’t tragically die from senseless domestic violence.”

Persons affected by the bill’s requirement would not be able to stash their guns with a family member or friend, Quinn’s statement explained. She stressed that HB 2060 will not impact any law-abiding citizen.

The House bill includes legislative language authored by state Sens. Tom McGarrigle, R-Delaware, and Tom Killion, R-Delaware, in bills that passed the Senate by unanimous votes earlier this year.

According to a statement from the Senate Republican caucus, the measure will now proceed to the governor’s office for Wolf’s signature.

Public Health

Wolf on Oct. 2 announced the creation of the Maternal Mortality Review Committee to collect information to investigate and disseminate findings related to maternal deaths, which he called a “growing concern” for Pennsylvania. The committee is the result of Act 24 of 2018, which the governor signed into law in May.

Wolf named 30 persons to the committee, which the act requires to conduct multidisciplinary reviews of maternal deaths and develop recommendations to prevent future maternal deaths in Pennsylvania.

“With the alarming rate of maternal deaths in Pennsylvania, establishing this committee will help take immediate action in determining the reasons for this phenomenon and, more importantly, help to develop prevention recommendations,” Wolf said in a statement.

Elevator Safety

Wolf on Oct. 3 signed into law a measure to create an Elevator Safety Board and requires it to conduct a monthly review of issues related to elevator construction, maintenance and inspection. The body will also have regulatory authority, including the ability to grant exceptions and variances to existing codes, and membership will include those with expertise in the safe operation of elevators.

Senate Bill 934, sponsored by Sen. Lisa Baker, R-Luzerne, has been called “Kristopher’s Law” in memory of Kristopher Moules, a Luzerne County correctional officer who was killed on the job when he fell down an elevator shaft after being attacked by an inmate.

The measure is now Act 68 of 2018.

Traffic Control

The Senate on Oct. 2 approved two traffic safety measures, sending them to the governor’s desk for Wolf’s consideration:

  • House Bill 1414, which would authorize flashing yellow and white lights on tow trucks, yellow strobe lights for solid waste collection vehicles and mounted internal blue lights for volunteer firefighters. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Steve Barrar, R-Delaware, passed unanimously. It was aimed at would better protect tow truck operators by authorizing the use of emergency lights to increase their visibility.
  • Senate Bill 172, which would allow for the use of speed cameras through active work zones on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and add speed cameras to Roosevelt Boulevard in northeast Philadelphia. The bill, sponsored by Sen. David Argall, R-Schuylkill, passed on a 47-1 vote. State Rep. John Taylor, R-Philadelphia, chairman of the House Transportation Committee and a key supporter of the measure, called SB 172 “a new tool for enforcing existing laws” and an innovative measure to alter driver behavior through work zones and on Roosevelt Boulevard.

Gubernatorial Debate

Pennsylvania’s Democratic governor and his Republican challenger met in their only formal appearance together in the fall campaign, in which moderator Alex Trebek of ‘‘Jeopardy!’’ fame needled the candidates on their mudslinging and pressed them on their perceived exaggerations, The Associated Press reported.

The event, billed by Trebek as conversational and not a debate, showed that Trebek had read up on Pennsylvania’s issues and politics in drafting questions for Wolf and GOP nominee Scott Wagner.

But it also led to unexpected moments Oct. 1 at the annual Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry dinner in Hershey, such as Trebek chastising policymakers broadly for ‘‘shortchanging education in this state for decades.’’

REAL ID

Pennsylvania has been granted another extension by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for implementation of REAL ID guidelines, the Wolf administration announced on Sept. 28. Under federal law, state-issued identification such as drivers’ licenses are required to comply with the guidelines for them to be honored for purposes such as boarding an airplane or entering a federal building.

Extension of the deadline to Aug. 1, 2019, means that Pennsylvania residents will not face access issues when entering federal facilities or boarding commercial aircraft through at least that date.

According to a statement from the Wolf administration, REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and photo ID cards will be made available at the customer’s option in March 2019.