Capitol Roundup from Rep. Mike Peifer
House Makes Necessary Revisions to PA Background Check Law
To further clarify the types of volunteers and employees who are required to obtain background checks to work with children, this week, the House passed House Bill 1276. The legislation is designed to more clearly define who is and who is not subject to the background check requirements and, where possible, make the requirements less onerous for volunteers, nonprofit organizations, employees and employers.

Under the bill, only those volunteers and employees with direct and routine interaction with a child as part of a child care service, a school, or a program, activity or service would need to obtain the clearances. For example, a Sunday school teacher and Scout leader would need the clearances, while a cook at a youth camp, a parent dropping off baked goods at a school or a guest reader/performer would not. The legislation would also permit employers or organizations to accept non-original copies of the required documents on file, rather than the original copies to be maintained by the employer or organization.

The House also recently amended the bill to waive the two $10 fees that volunteers must pay for background checks associated with the child protection laws. The legislation now heads to the state Senate for consideration.

Changing How Our Schools Are Funded
Yesterday, the Basic Education Funding Commission recommended that the General Assembly adopt a new formula for distributing state funding for basic education to Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts. The commission’s report is the result of a year-long study that included input from a wide range of education experts and advocates, as well as parents from urban, suburban and rural school districts.

The recommended formula takes into account several student-based factors, including student count, poverty, English language learners and charter school enrollment. The formula assigns weights to each category to help determine the degree to which each factor drives up the cost of educating a student. The recommendations will now be considered by the House and Senate.

Sale of E-Cigarettes to Minors Banned
Legislation to prohibit the sale of electronic cigarettes and other related “vaping” products to minors unanimously passed the state House this week. House Bill 954 would add nicotine delivery products to the list of tobacco products that are illegal to sell to minors, including electronic cigarettes. E-cigarettes, sometimes known as “vape pens,” are used to deliver nicotine and other substances into the body in the form of a vapor. The products come in a variety of flavors and generally resemble the size and shape of traditional cigarettes, which may increase their appeal to minors.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials have confirmed that calls to poison centers involving e-cigarettes have surged in recent years. In 2014, the CDC reported a dramatic increase in the number of high school students who indicated they had tried e-cigarettes, including many who previously had never smoked. The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Representative Mike Peifer
139th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Morgan Wagner
(717) 260-6281

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