Senate Passes Ward Bill Shielding Property Owners from Unfair Liens

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Harrisburg – The state Senate today approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Kim Ward (R-39) to protect homeowners from unfair mechanics’ liens.

Senate Bill 145 eliminates mechanics’ lien rights for subcontractors who performed work on residential property if the property owner has already paid the prime contractor in full. The measure will be sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

“Homeowners have faced this problem for years, but it became especially acute last year when several out-of-state roofing companies set up shop to replace homes damaged by a tornado in the 39th Senatorial District, and several property owners were victimized,” said Ward. “Senate passage of this legislation means we’re one step closer to preventing that from ever happening again.”

Following the 2011 tornado damage, some residents were adversely affected when a roofing company failed to pay its roofing supplier. In turn, the roofing supplier exercised its right to file mechanics’ liens against the property owners even though the property owners had already paid the contract price to the out-of-state company in full, Ward said. Even with proper documentation showing they paid the primary contractor, the subcontractor still filed the lien in accordance with existing Pennsylvania law. When the main contractor left town and disconnected their contact sources, they left these residents to fight the subcontractor on their own.

Under Senator Ward’s bill, if a subcontractor files a lien, the homeowner or tenant can file a petition or motion with the court to throw it out if the homeowner or tenant has paid the full contract price to the contractor.  When the homeowner or tenant has only paid part of the contract to the contractor, the bill directs the court to reduce the amount of lien to the amount still owed on the contract.

The senator introduced similar legislation in the previous legislative session.

“I am grateful to my Senate colleagues for supporting my efforts to make sure that property owners who pay their construction bills aren’t penalized by the deeds of an unscrupulous contractor,” said Ward. “Most contractors perform their work in good faith. Senate Bill 145 is designed to protect homeowners from those who don’t.”

CONTACT:

Tom Aikens taikens@pasen.gov
(724) 600-7002

PA Senate Manufacturing Caucus Holds First Meeting

 

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Harrisburg – The bipartisan Pennsylvania Senate Manufacturing Caucus, chaired by Sen. Kim Ward (R-39) and Sen. Wayne Fontana (D-42), held its first meeting today, bringing together manufacturers, legislators and experts to discuss ideas for boosting growth in this vital sector of the economy.

“Pennsylvania has been an industrial leader throughout its history, and although it remains a major manufacturing center, today’s economic realities bring many challenges, ranging from global competition to shifts in demand and resources,” Senator Ward said. “In order to ensure Pennsylvania’s manufacturing sector remains viable and competitive, it must continue to promote an atmosphere that supports existing manufacturing sectors, while also promoting growth into new areas of manufacturing.  I view this caucus as another tool in the ongoing effort to encourage and promote Pennsylvania manufacturing.”

“I am hopeful this caucus will help provide research, policy and legislation aimed at assisting Pennsylvania’s manufacturing community,” said Senator Fontana. “We hope to make this forum a very active and aggressive tool in working to bolster our manufacturing sector.”

Taking part in the meeting were manufacturers from throughout the commonwealth, directors of the Pennsylvania Industrial Resource Centers (IRCs) and representatives of various workforce training programs.

Senator Ward and Senator Fontana said the purpose of this caucus includes the following:

  • Provide research and policy development related to manufacturing.
  • Support efforts to draft and enact legislation beneficial to the manufacturing industry.
  • Provide periodic briefings on pertinent issues confronting manufacturing.
  • Assist in raising the profile of the Pennsylvania manufacturing industry.
  • Advocate for manufacturing workforce training programs (i.e., STEM initiatives).

“A trained workforce and business friendly environment throughout Pennsylvania will ultimately ensure a strong manufacturing sector and lead to job growth,” Senator Ward noted.

The senators said manufacturing is a vital component of Pennsylvania’s economy. The most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics shows that manufacturing is Pennsylvania’s largest industry sector in terms of gross state product, contributing $71 billion to the economy and employing over 564,000 people with average wages of $55,000.

“The importance of encouraging a strong manufacturing base in Pennsylvania cannot be overestimated,” Senator Fontana said. “Ultimately, we want to strengthen our manufacturing base, encourage expansion, spur new investment, and partner state government and its resources with the industry in pursuit of its goals.”

CONTACTS:

Jason R. Brehouse, Esq. (Sen. Ward) 717-787-6063 jbrehouse@pasen.gov
Colleen DeFrank (Sen. Fontana) 717-787-5300 cdefrank@pasenate.com

Senators Unveil Bipartisan Package to Overhaul PA Child Protection Laws

 

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Harrisburg – A bipartisan group of state senators today unveiled a package of legislation to provide sweeping improvements to Pennsylvania’s child protection laws.

Legislators taking part included Sen. Kim Ward (R-39); Republican Chair of the Senate Aging and Youth Committee, Sen. Bob Mensch (R-24); Democratic Chair of the Senate Aging and Youth Committee, Sen. LeAnna Washington (D-4); and Senate Democratic Caucus Administrator, Sen. Wayne Fontana (D-42).

“I am pleased the Senate will be taking action on the reforms suggested by Pennsylvania Task Force on Child Protection formed by my resolution, SR 250,” Ward said.  “The legislation should have no problem sailing through the Senate because all of us, Republican and Democrat, understand how important these reforms are to protecting our kids.”

“The first step in ending the cycle of child abuse is to know what it is and how to define it,” Washington said.  “My legislation, Senate Bill 20, provides a thorough and exhaustive definition of child abuse, to help us protect our children from harm.”

“As Chairman of the Senate Aging and Youth Committee, the renewed focus on child abuse in Pennsylvania over the last year has provided a serious challenge, and opportunity, to help implement comprehensive reforms that will improve child protection, especially at the point when someone first suspects child abuse to the time when an investigation is initiated and in progress,” said Mensch. “Among the shortcomings in current law that this package addresses is the need for better coordination between agencies, and protections for those citizens who come forward to report abuse. It’s past time to update these laws for the 21st century.”

“My legislation, which was originally introduced eight years ago, would remove the different reporting requirement for school employees and put them on the same level as other mandated reporters,” Fontana said. “We have a public and ethical responsibility to protect our children and ensure their safety in our schools. It doesn’t matter who is suspected of abuse.  Each case should be handled the same.”

The package implements changes recommended by the Pennsylvania Task Force on Child Protection created by the passage of Senate Resolution 250 in December 2011. The panel held a series of public meetings and released its report in November 2012. Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler, who chaired the task force, applauded the legislators’ efforts.

“I am delighted that the Pennsylvania Senate has chosen to pursue a collaborative, bipartisan approach to the drafting and introduction of legislation which embodies so much of what our Task Force recommended after a year of hard work,” Heckler said. “The children of Pennsylvania will be made far safer by the passage of this package of bills. I and my fellow Task Force members look forward to helping in any way we can.”

The package includes the following bills:

  • Senate Bill 20 Sen. LeAnna Washington (D-4), Sen. Kim Ward (R-39)
    Updates the definition of “child abuse” and provides exclusions.
  • Senate Bill 21 Sen. Kim Ward (R-39), Sen. John Blake (D-22)
    Clarifies who is a “mandatory reporter” of child abuse.
  • Senate Bill 22 Sen. Kim Ward (R-39), Sen. Tim Solobay (D-46)
    Increases penalties for failure to report child abuse.
  • Senate Bill 23 Sen. Lisa Baker (R-20), Sen. Christine Tartaglione (D-2)
    Updates the definition of “perpetrator” and expands definition of “person responsible for a child’s welfare.”
  • Senate Bill 24 Sen. Randy Vulakovich (R-44), Sen. Larry Farnese (D-1)
    Requires the Department of Public Welfare to establish a Statewide Database of Protective Services.
  • Senate Bill 25 Sen. Randy Vulakovich (R-44), Sen. Lisa Boscola (D-18)
    Updates procedures used to report child abuse and neglect.
  • Senate Bill 26 Sen. John Yudichak (D-14)
    Requires DPW to establish a three-digit, statewide number for reporting child abuse or for children in need of protective services.
  • Senate Bill 27 Sen. Bob Mensch (R-24), Sen. Mike Stack (D-5)
    Improves the exchange of information among medical practitioners and county agencies.
  • Senate Bill 28 Sen. Pat Browne (R-16), Sen. Daylin Leach (D-17)
    Amends Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) to comprehensively strengthen Pennsylvania’s child abuse laws.
  • Senate Bill 29 Sen. Pat Vance (R-31), Sen. Shirley Kitchen (D-3)
    Requires health care providers to immediately report if a newborn is identified as being affected by prenatal exposure to illegal substances.
  • Senate Bill 30 Sen. Ted Erickson (R-26), Sen. Richard Kasunic (D-32)
    Establishes accountability and due process protections for individuals working with delinquent children in juvenile detention facilities and residential rehabilitative institutions.
  • Senate Bill 31 Sen. Wayne Fontana (D-42)
    Eliminates the separate system for reporting abuse by school employees.
  • Senate Bill 32 Sen. Andy Dinniman (D-19), Sen. Jim Ferlo (D-38)
    Requires a school district to notify the county agency when a child is enrolled in a home-schooled or cyber-school program and requires the county to do a risk assessment.
  • Senate Bill 33 Sen. Bob Mensch (R-24), Sen. Jim Brewster (D-45)
    Provides employee whistleblower protection for child abuse reporting.
  • Senate Bill 34 Sen. Lloyd Smucker (R-13), Sen. Anthony Williams (D-8)
    Establishes a comprehensive system for professional educators who are investigated and disciplined for misconduct in Pennsylvania.
  • Senate Bill 46 Sen. Anthony Williams (D-8)
    Prevents “passing the trash” — hiring educators who have been investigated, dismissed or disciplined for abuse or sexual misconduct.

The next step in the process to boost child protection across Pennsylvania will be an April 9 joint public hearing on the package by the Senate Aging and Youth Committee and the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee.

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CONTACTS:

Carol Milligan (Senate Republicans)
717-787-6725
Stacey Witalec (Senate Democrats)
717-772-2368