I am pleased to send you my Session Wrap Up e-newsletter. This e-newsletter features events and legislative activities from the session week of February 23, 2015.
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Residency Requirement Bill Sent to House
The Senate approved legislation on Tuesday that would ensure that illegal immigrants residing in Pennsylvania do not receive public benefits like Medicaid, welfare and unemployment compensation.
Senate Bill 9 would require anyone requesting public benefits in the Commonwealth to provide identification proving they are a legal resident. They would also be required to sign an affidavit stating they are a U.S. citizen or an immigrant lawfully present in the United States.
The Federation for Immigration Reform estimates the current local annual costs of illegal immigration amount to about $36 billion nationwide. In Pennsylvania, which has more than 100,000 illegal immigrants, the current estimated cost is $285 million. That cost is expected to grow to $812 million by the year 2020.
Earlier this year, Pennsylvania agreed to pay the federal government $48.8 million to settle claims that it paid non-emergency Medicaid, family assistance and food stamp benefits to immigrants who did not qualify for them.
Senate Bill 9 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Approves Bill Regulating Healthcare Exchange Navigators
The Senate approved legislation on Monday that would provide essential protection of consumers’ rights and personal information under the federal health care act.
Senate Bill 293, also known as the Navigator Accessibility and Regulation Act, would require Healthcare Exchange Navigators be certified by the Department of Insurance and pass a criminal background check. The federal Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) relies on individuals, generally called “navigators,” to educate and enroll millions of uninsured Americans in either Medicaid or a private insurance plan. Although in many respects these navigators act like insurance agents, they have almost no qualifications or restrictions placed upon them.
Other bills approved by the Senate this week include:
Senate Bill 166 which would allow courts to grant expungement if the crime is a misdemeanor of the third or second degree and the individual has not been arrested or prosecuted for seven to ten years following the completion of the sentence or judicial supervision.
Senate Bill 179 which consolidates several statutes relating to hotels and other lodging establishments.
Senate Bill 316 which would provide more accountability in the awarding of state sole-source/no-bid and emergency contracts.
Committee Focuses on Veterans’ Issues
The Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee held a public hearing on Wednesday to gather testimony on veterans’ issues. The panel heard from federal and state officials as well as representatives from veterans’ organizations during the hearing. Video and testimony from the hearing is available at http://veterans.pasenategop.com/2015/02/23/veterans-issues/.
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