PA and National Legislative News
PA Cable Network (PCN) airs many legislative hearings. Their program schedule is posted at http://www.pcntv.com
Pennsylvania Legislative Services provides a comprehensive review of the latest political news and events in the Pennsylvania Capitol at http://www.mypls.com/
PA General Assembly Issues
New Law Addresses
Underage Public Drunkenness
Senator Jake Corman wrote in his Nov 14, 2012
e-newsletter: “I am very pleased that the Governor signed into law a bill I sponsored which aims to
reduce alcohol offenses and the significant impact they have on boroughs like State College.
941 (Act 205 of 2012)
increases the maximum fine for public drunkenness and underage drinking to
$1,000 on second and subsequent offenses.
This will hopefully provide a deterrent so that the individuals
who are arrested for alcohol-related offenses will make better decisions the
next time around. Additionally, if higher fines are chosen, the municipality
and tax payers will see relief in the cost they bear, this time paid by the actual
violator, rather than through increased property taxes.
Currently, the maximum fine limit for underage drinking
violations is $500 on second and subsequent offenses, and $300 for all offenses
of public drunkenness. The $300 fine for public drunkenness has not been
changed since 1972. If adjusted for inflation, the fine would be $1,650.
No one enjoys raising fines, but municipalities are continuously
facing the rising costs of alcohol related crimes, and those costs are borne by
someone – in this case, the taxpayer. Fine increases have shown a real impact
in other university communities across the country. Hopefully, this legislation
will be able to reduce the costs to taxpayers by preventing the alcohol
violations from continuously happening.”
PA Senate Bill 448 - Amendment of Title 18 of the Crimes and Offenses statutes This bill will provide that "A person shall be immune from prosecution for consumption when seeking medical attention for another. SIGNED by Governor Corbett on July 7, 2011.
PA Senate Bill 1006- Amendment of Public Law 233, No.64 "The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act" This legislation further provides for Schedule I controlled substances and bans the ingredients of "Bath Salts," "Synthetic Marijuana," and other "Designer Drugs." SIGNED by Governor Corbett on June 23, 2011.
PA House Bill 1651- Pharmaceutical Accountability Monitoring System. This bill advocates for a prescription drug database in Pennsylvania; this legislation was referred to the Committee on Human Service on 8/6/11. (Note: Currently, PA is one of only four States without such a database. Last year, more people die in PA from prescription drug overdoses than from auto accidents.) (posted 6/21/11)
Tobacco Settlement Act - See comments posted by The Pennsylvania Health Access Network, which is a coalition of organizations and individuals committed to expanding access to affordable, quality healthcare for all Pennsylvanians http://www.pahealthaccess.org/(posted 6/15/11)
See also PA Auditor General - special report - Tobacco Settlement.pdf (posted March, 2011)
PA Senate Bill 1003 "Medical Marijuana" was introduced on April 25, 2011
Related to PA Senate Bill 1003, see Cumberland-Perry Drug and Alcohol Commission's position paper on Marijuana for Medicinal Purposes (October 4, 2010) CPDAC Position Paper: Medical Marijuana.pdf
"Several States Take Another Look at Medical Marijuana Laws" by Join Together May 4, 2011) - Warning letters from the federal government have prompted several states to reevaluate their laws another-look-at-medical-marijuana-laws
Preventing Excessive Alcohol Consumption: Privatization of Retail Alcohol Sales - a summary of Task Force on Community Preventive Services recommendations thecommunityguide.org/alcohol/privatization.html Note: The Community Guide is a service of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Note: See the Commonwealth Prevention Alliance (CPA) Position on the Privatization of PA Liquor Stores CPA Privatization Position Paper. In summary, CPA recommends against privatization (posted 6/21/11)
US Congressional Issues
Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 On 10/3/08, this bill sponsored by Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici was signed into law. This new Federal law requires group health insurance plans (those with 50 or more insured employees) that offer coverage for mental illness (MH) and substance use disorders (SUD) to provide those benefits in a way that is no more restrictive than all other medical and surgical procedures covered by the plan. The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act does not require group health plans to cover MH and SUD benefits. But, when plans do cover these benefits, MH and SUD benefits must be covered at levels that are no lower than the levels of other medical and surgical benefits offered by the plan. Plans covering MH and SUD benefits must also have treatment limitations that are no more restrictive than the other offered benefits.
National Prevention Strategy and the National Prevention Council www.healthcare.gov/prevention/nphpphc (posted 6/17/11)
Federal and State Laws Regarding Alcohol Policy
NIAAA Alcohol Policy Information System(APIS) provides detailed information on a wide variety of alcohol-related policies in the United States at both State and Federal levels. Detailed, state-by-state information is available. (posted 6/18/11)