In the wake of all the yearend legislative activity, Governor Tom Corbett signed 23 bills on Thursday. Perhaps the most controversial new law (SB 732) will hold abortion facilities to the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers throughout the state. “It is extremely disappointing that Governor Corbett signed this politically-motivated bill into law,” Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates Executive Director Sari Stevens said in a statement. “Make no mistake, this new law has everything to do with politics.”
The bill was drafted in response to a grand jury’s tragic and filthy discoveries at one Philadelphia abortion clinic. Supporters say it’s about safety. But critics say the costly new regulations will actually close down safe abortion facilities, and ultimately jeopardize women’s health. This new law takes effect in 180-days.
Another new law will provide a boost to Pennsylvania’s one-million family caregivers. The Pennsylvania Caregiver Support Act will increase the maximum monthly reimbursements from $200 to $500, and for the first time open up the program to caregivers who do not live in the same household. “Here in Pennsylvania we had such restrictive eligibility requirements – one being that you had to live under the same roof – we were leaving about a million dollars on the table every year because families could not qualify,” says Vicki Hoak, executive director of the Pennsylvania Homecare Association. The Caregiver Support Program is funded through Lottery dollars; it requires no new state spending.
It’s going to be easier to buy beer on Sunday, with the enactment of HB 242. Beer distributors will be allowed to be open from 9am until 9pm on Sundays, compared to the previous noon to 5pm restrictions. “The legislature recognized that consumers are shopping at different hours, outside of traditional hours,” says Pennsylvania Malt Beverage Distributors Association President Mark Tanczos. HB 242 will also allow restaurants to start serving alcohol earlier on Sundays, in order to accommodate the Sunday brunch crowd.
Some of the other bills signed on Thursday will reauthorize Philadelphia’s Automated Red Light Enforcement System, enact a capital budget for the current fiscal year, and codify the new congressional maps.