Following is a listing of executive and legislative action for the week of April 7. Members of the General Assembly are set to return to session April 28.
• The state Senate approved SB 21, which would clarify who is a mandated reporter under the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law and when and how they would be required to report suspected child abuse.
• The Senate approved SB 129, which would require wireless providers to “ping” the cellphone of a missing person at the request of law enforcement officials when there is sufficient information to believe there is a risk or threat of death or serious physical harm, according to a statement from the sponsor of the bill, state Sen. Randy Vulakovich, R-Allegheny. Since 2005, the Federal Communications Commission has required cellphone manufacturers to include GPS receivers in all devices. This has allowed first responders to pinpoint the location of 911 callers in an emergency. While Pennsylvania law enforcement officials can request this information from cellphone providers, in most cases a subpoena is required.
• Three bills expanding the rights of landowners who are currently leased with natural gas companies were approved by the Senate, according to their prime sponsor, state Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Lycoming. SB 1236 would expand upon the Oil and Gas Lease Act by allowing royalty interest owners the opportunity to inspect records of natural gas companies to verify proper payments. SB 1237 would prohibit a gas company from retaliating against any royalty interest owner by terminating his or her lease agreement or ceasing development on leased property because a royalty interest owner questions the accuracy of current royalty payments. SB 1238 would require a gas company to record a surrender document in the county recorder of deeds office where the oil and gas well is located within 30 days upon expiration, termination or forfeiture of an oil and gas lease.
• Legislation that would expand training available to Pennsylvania’s elected sheriffs cleared the state House of Representatives, according to state Rep. Kate Harper, R-Montgomery, the prime sponsor of the measure. HB 1772 would require all sheriffs elected after the effective date of the law who do not already hold certification as a deputy sheriff to obtain the education, training and certification, and to meet the continuing education requirements thereafter.
• The House judiciary committee approved HB 1733, sponsored by state Rep. Dan Moul, R-Adams, which would impose tougher penalties on those who repeatedly drive while intoxicated and who are involved in a DUI accident that results in a fatality.
• The Senate sent SB 33 to Gov. Tom Corbett, which would allow mandated reporters who face discrimination or termination as a result of filing a child-abuse report to bring legal action against their employers.
• The use of drones by law enforcement would be prohibited under HB 2158, introduced by state Rep. Gordon Denlinger, R-Lancaster. The bill also would require annual reporting by government agencies on their use of drone technology.
Drillers’ Impact Fees
The Corbett administration announced that an impact fee imposed in 2012 on the state’s natural gas drillers will generate more than $630 million through 2014.
The majority of Act 13 funds are directly invested in local communities.
The number of highway deaths on Pennsylvania roads fell to a record low last year, when 1,208 were recorded, the lowest number since recordkeeping began in 1928, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation reported.
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board released its seventh annual Racetrack Casino Benchmark Report. Since its first release in 2008, this annual report has concentrated on the impact of Pennsylvania casinos on the state’s horse-racing industry.
In accordance with the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development and Gaming Act, approximately 11 percent of revenue generated from slot machine gaming was earmarked for the racing industry and agricultural initiatives in 2013. As a result, more than $252 million in slot machine tax revenue was generated for the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development Fund. Of this amount, approximately $209 million was used by both the thoroughbred and harness racing industries to enhance purses, assist breeding operations and provide health and pension benefits for horsemen.