New Pennsylvania laws 2024: Here is new legislation signed into law that is in effect as 2024 begins

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PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — A number of bills have been signed into law in recent months that are either in effect ahead of the New Year or will be shortly after 2024 begins in Pennsylvania.

The new laws cover a wide range of topics including probation reform, women’s health care, food safety, cybersecurity, religious garb in schools, voter registration and dog licenses.

Here’s what you need to know:

CRIME AND PUBLIC SAFETY

PROBATION REFORM: Gov. Shapiro signed what he calls ‘landmark probation reform and clean slate legislation’ that “will create more fairness in Pennsylvania’s criminal justice system, ensure probation serves as a tool to help Pennsylvanians re-enter their communities and pave the way for more Pennsylvanians to get second chances.”

Read more at legis.state.pa.us

‘PORCH PIRATING’ A FELONY: A new law in Pennsylvania makes porch pirating a felony. There are now specific penalties for mail theft, including the theft of a package, bag or letter.

The new law focuses on repeat offenders and uses a grading system to increase penalties if the thief had prior mail theft convictions.

Read more at legis.state.pa.us

RETAIL THEFT CRACKDOWN: A new law establishes a Deputy Attorney General within the Attorney General’s Office whose job it will be to oversee a team of prosecutors who will be geographically placed throughout Pennsylvania to prosecute retail theft.

Read more at legis.state.pa.us

LOWER FITNESS REQUIREMENTS FOR PROSPECTIVE POLICE OFFICERS: A new law will lower the fitness requirements for prospective police officers. Currently, police academy applicants are required to score no lower than the 30th percentile in evaluations that include long- and short-distance runs, bench presses, and sit-ups. The new law reduces these requirements so that an applicant only has to score in at least the 15th percentile for these evaluations.

However, applicants would still be required to score no lower than the 30th percentile in order to be employed as a police officer.

Read more at legis.state.pa.us

POLICE APPLICANT FINGERPRINT CHECKS: This new law gives the Municipal Police Officers’ Education and Training Commission (MPOETC) the statutory authority needed to conduct fingerprint-based criminal history checks for municipal police officer applicants.

See the text of the law at legis.state.pa.us

TREATMENT OF INCACERATED WOMEN: A new law covers a number of issues unique to women who are incarcerated. It includes a prohibition on shackling of pregnant women, a prohibition on the solitary confinement of pregnant women and full-body searches of female inmates by male guards.

It allows for three days of bonding time between incarcerated mothers and newborn children, ‘adequate’ visitation time between minor children and inmates (male or female) who were the sole legal guardians of those children at the time of arrest, feminine hygiene products at no cost, and limited coverage of cost to transport individuals to a safe location upon release.

Read more at legis.state.pa.us

RENEWING AND EXPANDING AUTOMATED ENFORCEMENT PROGRAMS: A new law eliminates the Feb. 2024 expiration date for the Automated Work Zone Speed Enforcement (AWZSE) program and the December 2023 expiration date for the Automated Speed Enforcement (ASE) program on Roosevelt Boulevard in Philadelphia.

It expands the ASE program to all roads in Philadelphia, contingent on PennDOT’s approval and the city’s adoption of a local ordinance, and makes necessary improvements to both the AWZSE and ASE programs.

It also fixes to current law authorizing school districts to use automated school bus stop-arm cameras and establishing a five-year pilot program for speed cameras in active school zones in Philadelphia.

Read more at legis.state.pa.us

SCHOOL BUS SAFETY: Updates rules for automated enforcement for drivers who fail to stop for school buses with flashing red lights.

See the text of the law at legis.state.pa.us

INSURANCE DATA SECURITY: Under this new law, insurance entities would have to conduct a cybersecurity risk assessment, develop cybersecurity protocols, and report breaches to the Pennsylvania Insurance Department.

See the text of the law at legis.state.pa.us

SEE ALSO | New laws coming to New Jersey in 2024

HEALTH

FENTANYL TESTING IN HOSPITALS: A new law requires general acute care hospitals to include testing for fentanyl in a urine drug screening if the hospital conducts a urine drug screening to assist in diagnosing the patient’s condition.

Read more at legis.state.pa.us

ENHANCED COVERAGE FOR BREAST CANCER SCREENINGS: This new law will require insurers to cover preventive breast and ovarian cancer screenings for high-risk women at no cost. Gov. Josh Shapiro’s office said the law removes out-of-pocket costs associated with genetic testing for hereditary breast, ovarian, prostate and other cancer syndromes – as well as supplemental breast screenings for women with a high lifetime risk of breast cancer.

See the text of the law at legis.state.pa.us

NO PELVIC, PROSTATE, RECTAL EXAMS WITHOUT CONSENT: Health care providers that are overseeing professional instruction or clinical training programs must obtain specific informed consent, in verbal or written form, before performing pelvic examinations, rectal examinations or prostate examinations.

“It’s a shocking and disturbing realization for many people that medical students may perform a pelvic exam on a female patient who is under anesthesia for an unrelated procedure,” reads a memo from the bill’s sponsors.

See the text of the law at legis.state.pa.us

COVERAGE FOR PASTEURIZED DONOR HUMAN MILK: Requires Medical Assistance coverage for medically prescribed pasteurized donor human milk (PDHM) in inpatient and outpatient settings for medically fragile infants under the age of 12 months. To qualify for coverage, the child’s mother must be medically or physically unable to produce maternal breast milk in an amount needed to meet the child’s needs. The donor milk must also be obtained from a milk bank licensed in Pennsylvania or through a hospital licensure process in accordance with the Keystone Mother’s Milk Bank Act (Act 7) of 2020.

See the text of the law at legis.state.pa.us

MATERNAL MORBIDITY REPORTING: This law categorizes maternal morbidity complications as reportable events. Severe maternal morbidity is a category of health conditions that complicate pregnancy, including unexpected outcomes of labor delivery that result in significant short- or long-term consequences to a woman’s health.

See the text of the law at legis.state.pa.us

TRANSITIONING MILITARY MEDICS TO CIVILIAN EMT/PARAMEDICS: This law ensures that a service member’s military education and training are taken into consideration for the purpose of fulfilling requirements for professional credentials related to emergency medical services providers.

See the text of the law at legis.state.pa.us

RELATED | New laws coming to Delaware in 2024

EDUCATION

FLEXIBILITY FOR SCHOOL DISTRICT SCHEDULING: The legislation changes state law to allow schools to complete the school year in either a minimum of 180 days or 900 hours at the elementary level and 990 hours at the secondary level – eliminating the current obligation to meet both mandates.

Read more at legis.state.pa.us

CHILD CARE TAX CREDIT: Legislation signed by Gov. Shapiro expanded the Pennsylvania Child and Dependent Care Enhancement Tax Credit. As an example, for a low-income family with two children in child care, their refundable state tax credit will go from $630 dollars to $2,100.

Read more at governor.pa.gov

TEACHERS ALLOWED TO WEAR RELIGIOUS GARB: Repeals Section 1112 of the Public School Code of 1949 that prohibits a teacher from wearing any garb, mark, emblem or insignia that would indicate he or she is a member of or adherent to any religious order or sect while in the performance of their duties as a teacher.

See the text of the law at legis.state.pa.us

IN-STATE TUITION FOR REASSIGNED MILITARY FAMILIES: Amends Act 287 of 1982 to require public institutions of higher learning, state-related or State-owned institutions, “Private institutions,” and community colleges to charge resident tuition rates to veterans, their spouses and dependent children, military personnel, their spouses and dependent children and civilian personnel, their spouses and dependent children, provided that the student is a resident of Pennsylvania on the date of deposit confirming their intent to enroll, begins enrollment within the corresponding term for which the deposit was made and remains in continuous enrollment at the institution.

See the text of the law at legis.state.pa.us

RIGHT-TO-KNOW FOR STATE-RELATED UNIVERSITIES: The four state-related universities (Penn State, Pittsburgh, Temple, and Lincoln) must significantly increase the amount of university personnel salary information that must be disclosed.

See the text of the law at legis.state.pa.us

ADVANCE SCHOOL ENROLLMENT FOR CHILDREN OF MILITARY MEMBERS: Requires a school district to develop a policy or revise an existing policy to allow a child whose parent or legal guardian is an active member of the armed forces, and has received official military orders to transfer into or within the Commonwealth, to enroll in the school district prior to establishing residency, as conditioned.

See the text of the law at legis.state.pa.us

GOVERNMENT AND SOCIETY

AUTOMATIC VOTER REGISTRATION: If you renew your driver’s license or state I.D. in Pennsylvania, you can be automatically registered to vote, though you have the choice to opt out of being registered.

People who are not eligible to vote will not be presented with the voter registration screen during any of the DMV processes.

See more coverage on 6abc.com.

REMOVING RACIST LANGUAGE IN DEEDS: A new law targets ‘restrictive deed covenants,’ which were “a tool of systemic racism that was written into deeds, barring the sale of properties to people of a particular race, ethnicity, or religious group.”

The new law allows a property owner or homeowner association to file a form with their county’s Recorder of Deeds office to strike a restrictive covenant from their deed without having to pay a fee. The legislation also provides reimbursement for the cost incurred by county recorders.

Read more at legis.state.pa.us

EXPANSION OF PROPERTY TAX/RENT REBATE PROGRAM: The Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program was expanded to nearly 175,000 more Pennsylvania seniors and doubles rebates for many of the 400,000 Pennsylvanians who already qualify.

The expansion of the property tax/rent rebate program raises the maximum rebate for seniors from $650 to $1,000, increases the income cap for renters and homeowners to $45,000 a year, and ties the cap to increases in the cost of living.

Read more at governor.pa.gov

FOOD

FROZEN DESSERT LAW REPEAL: The ‘Frozen Dessert Law’ passed in 1965 was repealed. It required companies to perform monthly sampling and testing of frozen desserts. The bill’s sponsor said it is now unnecessary since there has been a substantial increase at both the state and federal levels of food sanitation laws and regulations since the mid-1960s.

See the text of the law at legis.state.pa.us

PREFERRED ORGANIC TRADEMARK: This legislation permanently established the Pennsylvania Preferred Organic Program in addition to the Pennsylvania Preferred Program.

See the text of the law at legis.state.pa.us

PETS

PA DOG LAWS: The following updates were made to Pennsylvania dog laws:

  • Dogs now need to be licensed at three months of age, or at the point of transfer to a new owner
  • Increases annual and lifetime dog license fees and kennel fees, and authorizes the Department of Agriculture to increase license fees, as specified
  • Requires pet shops and kennels offering dogs for sale or adoption to display specified information about the dog
  • Adds additional penalties and fines, as delineated, and increases violation fees
  • Authorizes the department to revoke a kennel’s license or refuse a kennel license application for individuals convicted of animal cruelty
  • Requires dangerous dogs to not only be muzzled and leashed, but also under physical restraint.

See the text of the law at legis.state.pa.us

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