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Boscola Bulletin

It is a new year – 2020!
Below you will find a recap of some
of the new laws
on the books in the Commonwealth

Election Reforms

Largest PA Election Reform in 80 Years!

PA election law will soon allow you to request a mail-in ballot from your county election office. SB 421 created a no excuse mail-in voting option for all Pennsylvania voters.  I love the thought of friends & families sitting around kitchen tables and in living rooms – converting them into polling places. Researching a candidate can be done while you vote from the comfort of your own home on your time and at your convenience! The PA Department of State will soon be announcing when voters can sign up to be on a permanent list for mail-in ballot applications.  The requests to have a ballot sent to your home address will have to be made to your county elections board.

Are you unable to make it to your polling place on Election Day? You can now request an absentee ballot WITHOUT AN EXCUSE! In the past, voters would have to provide an approved excuse, such as disability or work travel to receive an absentee ballot. Now any voter can vote by absentee ballot for any reason, making voting more convenient for everyone. To do this, you must simply fill out an absentee ballot request up to 50 days before an election. If your ballot is received by your county election office on Election Day at 8pm, your vote counts and your voice is heard!

In addition to expanding the convenience of location when voting, the new law relaxes the deadlines for registering to vote as well as for voting by mail. If you are not registered to vote, you may now register up to 15 days before the election. Additionally, you may now request an absentee or mail-in ballot up to 50 days before an election. (previously only 30 days) Once complete, the ballot must be returned to your county voter registration office no later than 8pm on Election Day. This change was much needed; had this change been permitted in 2018, 8,000 more votes would have been counted in the general election.

**Effective date: Parts of this law already took effect, including the pushback of the voter registration deadline. Mail-in voting takes effect starting with this year’s April 28 primary**

 

Sunday hunting

Three Sundays a year in Pennsylvania, starting next year, it will be fair game to legally hunt. 

This new law, which goes into effect February 25, 2020, allows the Game Commission to pick which three Sundays that hunting will be permitted. One of them will be at the commission’s discretion. One will be during archery deer season, which runs late September through late November and late December through late January, and the third will be a Sunday during the firearms deer season, which runs late November through mid-December.

Hunter retention and recruitment were among the reasons supporters cited in their push for expanding hunting opportunities on Sundays.

 

Watch for purple paint

Purple PaintProperty owners can now mark their property boundaries with purple paint stripes instead of posting "No Trespassing" signs and it means the same thing.

new law, which passed last year & takes effect January 26, 2020, allows property owners the option of using purple paint markings instead of “no trespassing” signs to mark their property boundaries. The paint markings, unless you are color blind, are considered more visible than a “no trespassing” sign that be weather-beaten or vandalized.

To assist property owners, the new law specifies which kind of paint is to be used as well as where it is to be placed to serve as fair warning to potential trespassers. The right shade of purple is found in cans that are commercially available and have the words, “No Hunting,” on the label. The purple stripes are required to be at least 8 inches long and 1 inch wide. They must be placed between three and five feet from the ground on posts or trees no more than 100 feet apart.

 

Immunity for rescuing people trapped in a hot car

This law comes just about a year after giving immunity to folks who rescued dogs and cats stuck in a hot car, lawmakers got to work on passing legislation that extends that same protection to rescuing individuals – from babies to senior citizens – trapped in a car on a hot day.

This law, which is currently in effect, requires rescuers to abide by a series of steps. First, they need to see if the child or adult can exit the vehicle themselves and if not, if the driver is nearby to get their attention. If the individual inside the vehicle appears to be in distress, rescuers can enter the vehicle using just enough force to get the trapped person inside out. Then the rescuer is obligated to leave a note explaining the damage and the whereabouts of the person who was rescued and to stay with the individual until authorities arrive.

 

Under 21 No Tobacco No VaporRaising the age to buy tobacco products

Pennsylvania recently became the 19th state in the nation to raise its minimum tobacco buying age to 21 with an exception made for active members of the military and veterans with honorable discharges who must be at least 18.
Pennsylvania raised its tobacco-buying age as a way to try to combat the teen vaping epidemic – discouraging the habitual smoking in young people.  Violations that apply to both the underage buyers and sellers would be summary offenses, which are typically punishable by fines – this will take effect July 1, 2020.

 

Welcome to Official Status – Eastern Hellbender
Pennsylvania now has an official state amphibian!

Eastern Hellbender - (Peter Petokas via AP)

(Peter Petokas via AP)

Since 2016, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s (CBF) Student Leadership Council (SLC) has been spearheading the campaign to recognize the Eastern Hellbender as PA’s state amphibian! By doing so, the intent is to create a buzz around critically needing to reduce pollution on Pennsylvania’s rivers & streams.  Hellbenders are an indicator species for clean water – surviving where there is cold, clear, swift-running water.

The hellbender is a nocturnal salamander that can grow more than 2 feet long. The mud-colored creature, covered in a layer of mucus, breathes primarily through loose flaps of thick, wrinkled skin that look a little bit like lasagna noodles – and was the overwhelming choice of lawmakers for amphibian representation in PA!

 

Do-not-call made permanent

Do-not-callPennsylvania changed its law so that now once you register your telephone number on the Do Not Call registry, it’s permanent – or at least as long as the subscriber has that phone number or doesn’t request to be removed.

Before, the state’s “Do Not Call” registration required residents to re-enroll every five years. According to the state Attorney General’s office, anyone who previously registered their phone number on Pennsylvania’s do-not-call list were automatically put on the permanent list and do not need to re-register.

If your number is not on the list and you want it to be added, you can register it by visiting the attorney general’s website at attorneygeneral.gov or by calling 1-888-777-3406.

 

Tuition assistance for Guard families

Hoping to attract experienced Pennsylvania National Guard members to re-up for a six-year re-enlistment, the Governor and lawmakers came up with a one-of-a-kind enticement.

Thank you, PA National Guard FamiliesNational Guard members who re-enlist will enable their spouse and/or family members to get help with their higher education costs. Family members working toward an industrial certificate, associate or bachelor’s degree at most Pennsylvania colleges or universities will be eligible to have up to 10 semesters of their tuition covered through the Pennsylvania National Guard Military Family Education Program, or also known as the Pennsylvania GI Bill.

The amount of tuition assistance is the lesser of the cost of tuition or the in-state tuition rate set by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, which is currently $3,858 a semester. The 10 semesters of tuition assistance can be divided amongst the family members. This benefit is in addition to the tuition assistance that Guard members themselves are eligible to receive through the Education Assistance Program with their initial service obligation of six years.

Effective date: The program is NOW open and the first grants will be awarded starting Aug. 1.

 

No more snow days?

Snow DaysGiving school districts an option when snowy, icy or hot weather or other situations arise that force buildings to close reassures them that student learning does not have to wait any longer!

Instead of just tacking another day on the end of the school year or taking away a scheduled day off, schools are allowed to have up to five flexible instruction days each year. On these days, students are given assignments they are to complete at home and that allows the day to count toward the required 180-day school year.

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Offices of State Senator Lisa M. Boscola

www.senatorboscola.com

BETHLEHEM OFFICE
One East Broad Street
Suite 120
Bethlehem, PA 18018
(610) 868-8667
Fax: (610) 861-2184
Toll-free: 1-877-535-1818
EASTON OFFICE
1701 Washington Blvd.
Easton, PA 18042
(610) 250-5627
(610) 250-5629
Fax: (610) 250-1889
HARRISBURG OFFICE
458 Main Capitol Building
Senate Box 203018
Harrisburg, PA 17120-3018
(717) 787-4236
Fax: (717) 783-1257
Senate of PA:
1-800-364-158 (TTY)