PFESI is pleased to present you with the following Legislative Update as part of our ongoing efforts to provide timely information to Pennsylvania’s Emergency Responder Community.  We hope that you will use this information as a tool or a catalyst to get involved!  Together our voice is quite powerful!

PFESI and the Pennsylvania Fire Service have had a great legislative session!

  • Cancer presumption for firefighters
  • Extended and increased the Fire and Volunteer Ambulance Grant by $5 million. The maximum grant is now $15,000 for fire companies and $10,000 for EMS.
  • Legislation to increase payouts for small games of chance.
  • Legislation to provide permanent sales tax exemptions for Firemen’s Relief Associations.
  • Legislation to establish fines for drivers who ignore barricades or drive into flood waters and need rescue.

Still to come:

  • Good Samaritan legislation
  • AED’s Background check
  • Training 100% free

There is a lot of legislation to help the Fire Service working its way through the process. Following is a list a bills that have passed or have a good possibility of passing this session.

HB152 Signed By Governor

Extends the filing period for the benefit under state law from 90 days to four years. Tallman is calling on the governor to sign the legislation into law before this Tuesday, April 28, as the window for the constituent who brought this issue to his attention closes on that date as the law presently stands.

HB 911 Funding for 911 Centers /Signed by Governor

A bill to raise millions to fund 911 emergency call centers is headed to Gov. Tom Wolf following final passage in the Legislature. The Senate voted unanimously on Thursday to increase the fees paid by phone customers, typically $1 a month, to $1.65 a month. The centers require about $292 million a year to operate, but the phone bill fee hasn’t been enough to pay the full cost so counties have had to subsidize the centers

HB 347 , Direct Pay  Passed in the House Signed By Governor

HB 347 Wednesday voted for a bill approved by the House that could lift a burden off patients and streamline the way ambulance companies are reimbursed when they provide services.

The bill approved by the House would allow ambulance companies to choose to receive direct payments from insurers for out-of-network services. In exchange for that convenience, ambulance companies would be prevented from sending bills to patients in an effort to collect the difference between the company’s full price and the amount paid by the insurer.
If ambulance companies agree to accept direct reimbursements, patients would only be responsible for paying their copayment, coinsurance or deductible for ambulance rides.

SB 877 Increased Penalties for hitting first responder /Signed by Governor   

Sets a fine of up to $1,000 for a driver who causes a bodily injury; a $5,000 fine and loss of license for up to six months for a serious bodily injury; and a $10,000 fine and loss of license for up to a year for a death

HB 138 Passed the House /Passed by Senate Signed by Governor

Authorizes Fire Department to conduct Fill the Boot Fund Drives in Traffic

HB 1276  Background Checks Signed by Governor

This legislation, address the needs of those adults who should have background checks because they are in regular and routine contact with children and those who only spend a couple of minutes with them at a check-in station or softball game,” Oberlander said. “We owe our children the best protection possible, while also ensuring we have sufficient volunteers to run so many valuable programs and activities.”

Subsequently, volunteers will not have to pay the $10 fees for the DHS child abuse clearances and state police criminal background checks. On June 10, the administration waived the fees for volunteers only, effective July 25. The administration is also reducing the clearances to $8 each for affected employees.

The measure also allows employee clearances to apply for any additional paid position the employee holds, a portability measure already in place for volunteers.

In addition, employers and organizations are permitted to keep non-original copies of the required documents on file, rather than the originals. Only new volunteers must obtain the clearances by July 1, 2015, while existing volunteers or volunteers never before required to obtain them have until July 1, 2016, to secure the clearances

HB 1683  Municipal Tax Breaks  Passed the House unanimously

House Bill 1683, would grant municipalities the authority to offer active volunteers a property tax credit of up to 20 percent of their tax liability. In addition, the bill would require the state fire commissioner to establish the annual requirements of the credit program for active volunteers, such as the number of calls responded to, the training undertaken, or qualifying participation in the functions of the organization.

SB 299   Municipal Tax Breaks / Passed Senate

The Senate of Pennsylvania unanimously passed a piece of legislation in response to the growing shortage of volunteer first responders. SB299 as introduced by Senator Lisa Baker (R-20) and Senator Sean Wiley (D-49) gives municipalities the authority to reduce or waive their local earned income tax for volunteer firefighters and volunteers at nonprofit emergency medical service agencies

HB339 Treat but no Transport passed the House

The bill would allow emergency medical services to bill health insurance companies when an individual receives emergency treatment from an ambulance, but was not transported to the hospital

HB 1796 Increase fines to support EMS

Will double fine amounts to fund EMSOFT

HB 1272

Authorizes billing for Emergency Services. Hearing 12/10 15

 SB 1097 Length of service award program

“Length of service award program.” A system established to provide tax-deferred income benefits to active volunteer members of a fire service. Safeguards for preserving life, health and safety of volunteer firefighters to ensure their availability to
participate in the fire service, including necessary training. Financial assistance to recruit and retain volunteer firefighters.

HB 1717 Length of service award program

“Length of service award program.” A system established to provide tax-deferred income benefits to active volunteer members of a fire service.

HB 1860 certified public accountants assisting volunteer firefighter organizations

An Act amending the act of May 26, 1947 (P.L.318, No.140),    known as the CPA Law, establishing a continuing education pilot program for certified public accountants assisting volunteer Would allow CPA’s to volunteer services to Firefighter organizations. The CPA will receive up to 40 hours CEU’s and the waiver of the renewal fee.

 

Grant Bill HB1877

The proposed bill incorporates numerous changes into the grant program to improve its performance and efficiency. The amendment incentivizes certification by providing for a monetary bonus for up to 20 members certified at the Firefighter 1 level or higher. The amendment encourages consolidation by allowing merged fire and EMS companies to continue receiving the aggregate of their grant monies for 10 years following consolidation. This is an increase from five years in existing law.

The bill also allows adds career emergency medical services companies in the grant program and authorizes them to be eligible if they are designated as a municipality’s primary EMS provider. An additional requirement for all grant recipients is active reporting in the Pennsylvania Fire Information Reporting System.

HB 1826

If a fire company has more than one firehouse, grants shall be not less than $2,500 and not more than $15,000 per firehouse.

HB 2058

Blood draw services.–A paramedic may provide assistance to law enforcement upon request to perform a legal
blood draw on behalf of the agency from persons suspected of violating 75 Pa.C.S. § 1543(b)(1.1) (relating to driving while
operating privilege is suspended or revoked),The director or similar officer of the county 30laboratory or emergency medical services agency that has provided services in the prosecution shall determine the actual cost of the laboratory or paramedic services provided in the prosecution and transmit a statement for services rendered to the court.

Fireworks SB 1055

Makes Class C fireworks ; roman candles ect; legal we are opposed to this.

Additionally we continue to work on a package of bills to increase recruiting and retention and to provide additional money to Volunteer Firemen’s Relief Associations and Career pension funds.

establishments and club licensed establishments to have 5 video gaming terminal machines installed into their locations.

The percentage for licensees and clubs is 33%. The operator keeps 33%. The state keeps 34%. There is no reporting for licensees or clubs and there are no restrictions on how you choose to spend the money.

HB 649

Video Gaming Terminals for Clubs

Currently the language for VGT’s is in HB 649 along with several casino pieces including internet gaming for casinos. This legislation would allow all retail licensed

As I said before, this legislation is modeled after the Illinois legislation that passed a couple years ago. The average share for licensees and clubs if $65k annually. Operators have to install and fill redemption machines that pays out the winners.

No volunteers would have to touch the machines and the organization receives their shares directly into their bank accounts. All the firehouses have to provide is electricity.

The Bill has passed the House Gaming Committee and awaits a vote in the House

SR 60 rewrite

Thanks to Tracy Wingeroth; from the FASPA; and Fire Commissioner Solobay whose help has made this possible.

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