Apr. 27, 2018

Protecting Students from the Sun

In a commonsense measure, my colleagues in the House and I endorsed legislation that would allow students to apply sunscreen and use other sun-protective clothing during school hours or at a school-sponsored activity.

Under current state law, only the school nurse can administer sunscreen because it is considered an over-the-counter medication by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). As a result, students must have a doctor’s order, not just their parent’s permission, and the sunscreen has to be administered by a nurse. Students can’t even bring sunscreen to school and apply it themselves.

House Bill 1228 would specifically allow students, during school hours or at a school-sponsored activity, to apply a topical sunscreen product without a physician’s note or prescription if the product is approved by the FDA for over-the-counter use.

In addition to the application of sunscreen, House Bill 1228 would also allow other sun-protective clothing, including but not limited to hats, for outdoor use. The items must still follow a school’s dress code.

The legislation is now with the state Senate.
Bills Clear House to Help Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

Legislation to help grandparents who are the sole caregivers of their grandchildren received overwhelming support in the state House last week. The bills now go to the state Senate for consideration.

House Bill 2133 would establish the Kinship Caregiver Navigator Program, an informational resource to operate both as a website and a toll-free hotline. The website would offer information on support and services available, and a specially trained navigator would be able to provide support and guidance to kinship caregivers.

House Bill 1539 would grant temporary guardianship to grandparents when the parents of the grandchildren are unable to care for them primarily due to substance abuse issues.

Additionally, House Resolution 390 would study the trend of grandfamilies in Pennsylvania and include a focus about how the opioid crisis is impacting this growing trend. The rise of the opioid crisis in Pennsylvania has increased the number of grandparents who take on this role.

An estimated 82,000 grandparents are the sole caregivers for nearly 89,000 grandchildren in Pennsylvania.
High Tunnel Farm Structure Exemption Signed into Law

As a way to help farmers struggling through recent agriculture challenges, legislation I voted for was signed into law last week as Act 15 of 2018 to waive storm water management plans for high tunnel structures, which are temporary buildings often used to raise produce through the early spring and late into the fall. 

The legislation was needed to clarify storm water requirements put in place by the Department of Environmental Protection in 2016, which required them for these temporary structures. In many instances, the cost of a storm water engineering plan and executing that plan is more expensive than the high tunnel itself.

The use of high tunnel structures is not limited to professional agriculture. They are also being used in suburbs – on empty lots and even on rooftops – to raise fresh food in decent quantities in an urban setting where larger crop plantings would otherwise be difficult.

The new law takes effect early this summer.
Traffic Deaths Hit a New Low in 2017

Traffic deaths in the Commonwealth last year dropped to the lowest level since record keeping began in 1928, according to a recent report from PennDOT. In 2017, 1,137 people died on Pennsylvania roadways, 51 fewer than 2016.

PennDOT officials attribute the reduction to educational outreach, effective enforcement and low-cost safety improvements.

Significant decreases were noted in fatalities involving impaired drivers, pedestrians and unrestrained occupants. Work zone fatalities increased slightly, as did fatalities among drivers ages 75 and older, and red light runners.

More information on highway safety and safety initiatives is available here.