Senate Session Recap and Statement from Majority Leader Kim Ward

The Senate has advanced several measures to help keep Pennsylvania’s economic efforts on track as part of the continued management of the COVID-19 pandemic, assist in the fight against opioids, and help Pennsylvanians impacted by Hurricane IDA.  These advancements were a direct result of the constitutional amendment passed in the spring that gave the legislature a seat at the table and an opportunity to work better together on behalf of Pennsylvania. 

All waivers were temporarily extended in June for 3 months to give the legislature time to review the actions taken by the Governor’s Office at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Over the summer and in a bi-partisan manner, more than 1,000 regulations and items were reviewed.  The review identified two major findings.

  1. The majority of waivers are housed in three agencies
  • Department of Health
  • Department of Human Services, and
  • Department of State, Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs
  1. Numerous inaccuracies in the agency reporting and coordination efforts.  In many cases, uncoordinated efforts within the agencies themselves.

This week, the House and Senate unanimously passed (HB 1861), related to waivers, the high level points are below for understanding.

Additionally, to support the fight against opioids, two major advancements were made as part of a commitment to provide legislative fixes with consideration to ending of the opioid emergency declaration.

  1. As part of HB 1861, telehealth measures were extended to provide support to help individuals sustain their recovery by providing necessary services for rehabilitation.
  2. The Senate also passed HB 1774, which amends the Achieving Better Care by Monitoring All Prescriptions Act (ABC-MAP) to allow additional state agency personnel to have access to the program and extends the expiration date of the Act.

Recently, House and Senate passed HR 139, which extended the disaster emergency on Aug. 31, 2021 in response the aftereffect of Hurricane Ida. 

Statement from Majority Leader Kim Ward

“Delivering on a Promise to the people of Pennsylvania that we work better together, the Senate advanced several significant measures since starting the fall session to address matters previously included as part of various emergency declarations under the executive branch.  The first measure extends waivers that were initially proposed at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which are set to expire tomorrow.  We extended some waivers to continue to provide flexibility in addressing critical health and human services, as well as consumer and employee flexibilities waivers as we continue to manage out of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The second measure advances our proactive efforts to provide resources in the fight against opioids by continuing telehealth options and removing red tape to allow additional state agency personnel to have access to the Achieving Better Care by Monitoring All Prescriptions Program.  The final measure extends the Hurricane Ida emergency declaration to allow us to address the aftereffects and storm recovery efforts for Ida.  These measures will help to keep Pennsylvania on track to bring the Commonwealth back to full employment and advance economic stability while securing the health and safety of all Pennsylvanians.”