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Senator Bob Mensch

Dear Friend,

Below is a recap of this week’s legislative activity in the Senate. It covers votes by the full Senate and committee action, plus a look ahead to next week.

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Bob Mensch

In this Edition...

Senate Approves Increased Accountability for State Contracts
Senate Approves Bill Regulating Healthcare Exchange Navigators
Other bills Approved by the Senate
Mensch Recognizes Rare Disease Day, Preeclampsia Awareness Month
Committee Holds Public Hearing on Medical Cannabis
Committee Hearing Focuses on Veterans’ Issues
Legislative Budget and Finance Committee Reviews Latest

Next Week

Senate Approves Increased Accountability for State Contracts

The Senate approved legislation Monday that would provide more accountability in the awarding of state sole-source/no-bid and emergency contracts.

Senate Bill 316 address issues outlined in an October 2009 Auditor General audit on technology contracts.

The apparent lack of openness, transparency, and accountability has too often raised suspicion of the Commonwealth’s procurement process. These difficulties especially arise whenever the state enters into sole-source (and sometimes no-bid) contracts or “emergency procurements.”

This legislation would require more public access to procurement records, including the posting of information on the websites of the Department of General Services and other purchasing agencies. Written determinations of purchasing officers would also be required when entering into sole-source/no-bid and emergency contracts deemed to be “in the best interests of the Commonwealth.”

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 9 which would require anyone requesting public benefits in the Commonwealth to provide identification proving they are a legal resident.

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.

Mensch Recognizes Rare Disease Day, Preeclampsia Awareness Month

Senator Mensch

I joined colleagues, patients, physicians, and industry leaders Tuesday to focus on the challenges and triumphs of living with rare diseases in Pennsylvania.

In the U.S., a disease is considered rare if it is believed to affect fewer than 200,000 Americans. There are approximately 6,800 such diseases, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). While each disease is rare, when considered together they affect nearly 30 million Americans or almost one in 10 people. There are certain challenges that all patients and families affected by rare diseases share and it was important to take a day to recognize those challenges.

On Wednesday, I introduced Senate Resolution 32 which recognizes May 2015 as “Preeclampsia Awareness Month” in Pennsylvania.

Every year almost 300,000 pregnancies in the United States are complicated by preeclampsia, with approximately 25 percent of those reaching severe or critical status. The Preeclampsia Foundation’s mission is to stop preventable death and disabilities of mothers and babies by eliminating delays in diagnosis, implementing the best-known practices, developing new practices, and helping women and their families through the impact of preeclampsia.

Committee Holds Public Hearing on Medical Cannabis

The Senate State Government Committee held a public hearing on Wednesday on Senate Bill 3, a measure that would allow physicians to provide medical cannabis to patients in Pennsylvania.

The purpose of the hearing was to hear from people on both sides of the issue and discuss possible amendments to the bill, including Real-Time Registry; research supporting expansion of the list of diseases; and best methods of delivery for patients using medical cannabis. Senate Bill 3 would allow patients who have a recommendation from their doctor to purchase and use medical cannabis from centers licensed by a to-be-created State Board of Medical Cannabis Licensing.

Click here for video and written testimony from the hearing.

Committee Hearing 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.

Click here for video and written testimony from the hearing.

Legislative Budget and Finance Committee Reviews Latest Reports

I was honored recently to be reappointed Chairman of the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee, which conducts studies and makes recommendations aimed at eliminating unnecessary government spending.

The committee met Tuesday to discuss reports on PennDOT, Funding County Adult Probation Services, Dental Services for Person with Disabilities in PA, and the Impact of Slots Gaming on the PA State Lottery.

You can find more information on the LBFC and view the full reports here.

Next Week

The Senate reconvenes Monday at 1 p.m. On Tuesday at noon, the governor will present his proposed 2015-16 state budget to a joint session of the legislature. You can watch the address and Senate session live at

Senate Committee Schedule

Twitter and Facebook: I post regular updates on legislative action, committee developments, useful state-related information, happenings in the 24th Senatorial District and more on Twitter @SenatorMensch and on my Facebook page.

Contact Me

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Harrisburg Office
Senate Box 203024
Harrisburg, PA 17120-3024
Phone (717) 787-3110
FAX (717) 787-8004

Montgomery/Bucks County Office
404 Main Street, Suite A
Pennsburg, PA 18073
Phone (215) 541-2388
FAX (215) 541-2387
Toll Free 1-855-247-9020
Monday - Friday
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Lansdale District Office
645 W. 9th Street
Lansdale, PA 19446
Phone (215) 368-3117
FAX (215) 541-2387
Monday, Wednesday and Friday
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