Bills on puppy mills and sports harassment introduced to legislature
By Rep. Anita Kulik
The summer ran by very quickly, but my staff and I were kept very busy in the district office with remnants of unemployment compensation issues and other issues that are handled by us on a continuing basis. I believe the most important task facing any state representative is often the task of constituent service, as so many people often need our help.
There has been a return to a degree of normalcy in my office, as there has been in our area. It is nice to have our community groups up and running again with live events – and it is wonderful to have Friday night football back! The teams in our district are having very exciting seasons and I have been so happy to attend games and listen to our marching bands.
That being said, there is a great deal of work being done in Harrisburg. I have introduced a bill addressing animal cruelty through puppy mills. Throughout Pennsylvania, so many dogs are suffering, whether through delivery of multiple litters or puppies being sold in unscrupulous manners.
I have also reintroduced a bill that I had offered last session, which addresses the problem of harassment of sports officials. Sports officials, and this will include coaches, trainers and school officials, are vital to the programs run for the benefit of our young people. Too often these people are subjected to foul language, screaming, taunting, and, in the worst-case scenarios, threats and physical violence. My bill will address the worst of these situations, making it a specific crime to threaten or physically attack a sports official. This is an increasing problem, and has resulted in a shortage of sports officials throughout the United States.
The House and Senate returned to session after the summer break and took up bills that address issues remaining from the COVID-19 crisis. I had the opportunity to attend committee meetings that dealt with bills and matters that are before the House and Senate.
The governor issued a disaster emergency declaration on Aug. 31 in response to the damage caused by Hurricane Ida. The new law in place, voted on by the people of Pennsylvania, gives the governor the ability to issue an emergency declaration for only 21 days. After that, the General Assembly must vote on and approve an extension of that declaration. The House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee pushed out a concurrent resolution that would extend the declaration, so that the communities that suffered damages from Hurricane Ida can continue to receive much needed aid.
Some of the changes made by government, businesses, and local agencies during the coronavirus crisis have proven to be good for the people they serve. Certain waivers that were issued by the executive branch are under consideration to be made permanent. Several of these waivers fall under the purview of the House Professional Licensure Committee, of which I am a member. This past session we addressed matters from those in the real estate and pharmacy professions.
Real estate licensure classes and continuing education classes received waivers during COVID-19 to be taken online. A proposed bill provides for the continuation of these online classes to be allowed. As a lawyer, I have been able to take a certain number of classes online to meet my continuing legal education requirements. COVID-19 enabled all credits to be taken online. Whether this continues will be up to the Supreme Court, which oversees attorney rules. All other professions, however, fall under the General Assembly, and I am sure that many others will be requesting the same consideration that has been given to the real estate professionals. Modern technology is moving all of us more into the remote world, which provides the same instruction with the conveniences needed by many.
The Professional Licensure Committee also had a hearing on matters pertaining to pharmacists, technicians and interns. During the pandemic, waivers were given so that pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and student interns could be trained to administer COVID-19 vaccines. This proved invaluable to getting the most amount of people vaccinated in the most efficient manner. The hearing addressed issues such as whether these professionals should continue to be allowed to vaccinate. Those who testified at the hearing were pharmacists, pharmacy school representatives, doctors and health system representatives.
While we have spent the past year and a half dealing with the coronavirus, it is important to note that other medical issues have not gone away. The opioid crisis has never stopped; in fact, in some ways, it has grown.
The emergency declaration renewed by the governor has expired and the leadership from the General Assembly has declined to consider a renewal. The House has moved to pass House Bill 1774, which addresses a part of the problems that we face, and the needs we have to address this social dilemma.
This bill extends Pennsylvania’s prescription drug monitoring program until the end of 2028. This program collects data on the prescribing and dispensing of controlled substances in the Commonwealth and provides this information to medical professionals to aid in diagnosis and prescribing practices.
The State House will be in session for designated weeks throughout the fall months. For information on the happenings or bills being considered, please feel free to reach out to me, or to your specific state representative.
A Kennedy resident and attorney, State Rep. Anita Kulik has served Pennsylvania’s 45th House District since 2017.