HARRISBURG − June 28, 2023 − Senator Steve Santarsiero (D-10) and Representative Perry Warren (D-31) announced that Senate Bill 442 and House Bill 735, each of which would establish a task force to address rising flood insurance premiums, were voted unanimously out of the Senate Banking & Insurance Committee yesterday.
“Eight years ago, I introduced what was then HB 1299 and today is SB 442, to help Pennsylvanians find relief from rising flood insurance premiums,” said Senator Santarsiero. “Then, as now, residents in neighborhoods along the Delaware River were facing skyrocketing flood insurance costs that threatened their ability to protect their homes and made it almost impossible for them to sell.”
Reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program that Congress passed in 2012, called the Briggert-Waters Act, phased out the federal subsidy for flood insurance costs and directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to revise its flood plain maps. Those new maps included many more homes in the flood zones and requiring flood insurance.
In late 2014 and early 2015 Senator Santarsiero held townhalls and neighborhood meetings, as well as discussions with local stakeholders and elected officials. From those meetings it became clear the best option at the state level was a task force to review the problem and identify state solutions.
SB 442 would establish the Flood Insurance Premium Assistance Task Force to explore ways to lower flood insurance premiums and incentivize communities to invest in flood prevention measures. The task force would consist of one appointee each from the Director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, Insurance Commissioner, Secretary of Banking and Securities, Senate Majority Leader, Senate Minority Leader, House Majority Leader, and House Minority Leader.
The task force would have the power to review and analyze existing law, procedures, practices, processes, and rules related to the administration of flood insurance. In addition, the task force would hold public hearings and accept written comments from the public.
The task force would have six months to issue a final report to include recommendations on:
- potential programs to provide flood insurance premium discounts;
- potential programs, whether through the mechanism of premium discounts or other relief, that create incentives for local governments to undertake or continue mitigation efforts;
- the implementation of necessary changes in state statutes and practices, policies and procedures relating to the administration of flood insurance;
- ways to educate the public about flooding risks and mitigation techniques;
- how to inform Pennsylvanians about flood insurance options when purchasing;
- recommendations to increase the number of flood insurance policies purchased by Pennsylvanians.
“When I was a township supervisor in Lower Makefield Township after three catastrophic floods in 2004, 2005 and 2006, we took local action implementing new engineering controls, like back flow preventers, and adopted a nationally-recognized Low Impact Development Ordinance to reduce stormwater runoff,” said Senator Santarsiero. “Those are the types of things that the state could potentially incentivize local governments to do to reduce costs for residents.”
Senator Santarsiero continued, “This is an issue that impacts Pennsylvanians across the Commonwealth. Communities along Pennsylvania’s rivers, creeks and streams have been devastated by plummeting property values due to unaffordable flood insurance premiums.”
Members on both sides of the aisle echoed support for the bill noting that their constituents are also experiencing increasing premiums, devastating flooding, and the difficult financial decision of whether to buy insurance they may not be able to afford or risk financial ruin from a significant flooding event.
Representative Perry Warren, who succeeded Senator Santarsiero in the House, has continued his predecessor’s work on this issue, authoring House Bill 735. HB 735 passed the House in May and was also voted favorably out of the Senate Banking & Insurance Committee.
“Our respective districts have among the most waterfront property in Pennsylvania,” said Rep. Warren. “We need to create a more equitable way to tabulate flood insurance premiums, and our current system is becoming unsustainable for our neighbors who live on or near the flood plain. These bills will help create solutions.”
Either or both bills need to be passed by the Senate and sent to the House for passage before being presented to the Governor for his signature.
BUCKS COUNTY – May 28, 2020 – Senators Steve Santarsiero (D-10) and Maria Collett (D-12) were joined by State Representatives Perry Warren (D-31), Tina Davis (D-141), John Galloway (D-140) and Wendy Ullman (D-143) in asking Governor Wolf to issue an executive order permitting personal services businesses, such as barbers and salons, located in counties in the yellow or green phase to reopen with enhanced safety measures.
The letter references a plan for reopening of the personal service industry used in neighboring Ohio, developed by a personal services workgroup at the request of Ohio’s Governor. The Ohio plan includes a list of requirements and best practices for businesses to implement, such as maintaining six feet of social distancing (except between the client and employee when appropriate), requiring employees to wear facial coverings (with some exceptions), requiring businesses to clean high-touch items after each use, and requiring employees to wear gloves and dispose of gloves in between tasks.
“During a productive call with 45 barbers and hair stylists from across the Commonwealth, they shared the process for reopening their industry that is being implemented in Ohio,” said Sen. Santarsiero. “Based on the precautions they recommend, paired with the hundreds of hours of training that licensed professionals in the industry receive in sanitation, sterilization and hygiene, I believe it is time to safely reopen this sector of Pennsylvania’s economy.”
“I have heard from many hair, nail, and tanning salon owners in my district, the majority of these salons being women- and minority-owned, who are ready and able to implement these expanded safety guidelines and return to serving our communities,” said Sen. Collett. “It is important that we continue to generate and propose creative solutions and compromises so that businesses in yellow phase counties can begin to resume operations and rebuild while we continue to protect the public health.”
The full text of the letter to Governor Wolf can be found here.
NEWTOWN − October 4, 2019 − State Senator Steve Santarsiero (D-10), state Representatives Tina Davis (D-141) and Perry Warren (D-31), and family members of the late Kayden Mancuso, held a press call this afternoon to discuss SB 868, and the companion House Bill, also known as “Kayden’s Law.”
Kayden Mancuso, a seven-year-old of Lower Makefield Township, was killed in August of 2018 by her biological father during a court-ordered, unsupervised visit granted following a year-long custody dispute. The bill is named in Kayden’s honor, as the Bucks County legislators have been working closely with members of her family in creating this legislation to prevent other families from experiencing the same horrific loss.
Kayden’s Law will provide children in the family court system with greater legal protections by adding to the evidence judges must consider in making custody and visitation decisions, establishing an evidentiary hearing to thoroughly vet allegations of abuse, and urging the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts to implement an ongoing, evidence-based training program for judges and other relevant court personnel regarding child abuse and domestic violence, which is crucial for those whose decision-making affects potentially life and death scenarios every day.
“It is our greatest responsibility as legislators to protect the health and well-being of our children,” said Sen. Santarsiero. “Right now, Pennsylvania is not doing enough to ensure that children going through custody proceedings in our family courts are protected. Parental rights should not outweigh the safety of the children involved, especially in cases where evidence of abuse or unstable behavior are so prevalent.”
“As a lawmaker, I am deeply concerned by how the courts are failing our children by ignoring warning signs and, as a result, putting them in harm’s way,” said Rep. Davis. “We are long overdue for serious reforms to the current system and this legislation takes a big step toward addressing these issues and, hopefully, will save lives.”
“Kayden’s family’s remarkable courage, persistence…and love has led to the introduction of Kayden’s Law, which will ensure that the health and safety of the child is the first priority in custody proceedings,” said Rep. Warren.
The legislators were joined on the press call by members of Kayden’s family who have been vocal advocates for stronger protections for children involved in domestic custody disputes. Following Kayden’s death, the family launched Kayden’s Korner in her memory, with the mission “to affect judicial reform of the family court system through the education of government to the signs of domestic abuse, shine a light on the impact of mental illness and lobby government to make the health and safety of children the singular concern of the court system.”
“It’s so encouraging to have this support. I think we all realize going forward that there’s much, much more to do,” said Thomas Giglio, Kayden’s maternal grandfather.
“I want to thank Senator Santarsiero, Representative Warren, and Representative Davis. We wouldn’t be here without you,” said Brian Sherlock, Kayden’s stepfather. “Everything we do here is bittersweet. I wish we didn’t have to be here. We won’t stop until this becomes law here in Pennsylvania and across the country. I think that if this bill was in place last August, Kayden would still be here.”
To further address the issue of child custody in Pennsylvania, the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, co-chaired by Senator Santarsiero, will be holding a policy hearing on Thursday October 17th. The hearing will focus on SB 868, with an agenda forthcoming.
The meeting will begin at 11:00 am and conclude at 1:00 pm at the Lower Makefield Township Community Center, 1550 Oxford Valley Road, in Yardley, Pennsylvania. This meeting is open to the public and the press.
A link to Senator Santarsiero’s legislation, SB 868, can be found here. View the full bill analysis here.
A link to Representatives Davis and Warren’s co-sponsorship memo can be found here.
A link to Kayden’s Korner can be found here.
Sen. Santarsiero has district offices in Doylestown and Newtown and can be reached via email at SenatorSantarsiero@pasenate.com. Visit his website at www.senatorstevesantarsiero.com.
Rep. Davis has a district office in Levittown. Visit her website at http://www.pahouse.com/Davis.
Rep. Warren has a district office in Yardley. Visit his website at https://www.pahouse.com/Warren.
HARRISBURG − June 14, 2019 − State Senator Steve Santarsiero (D-10), and state Representatives Wendy Ullman (D-143) and Perry Warren (D-31), announced the award of over two million dollars in state grants from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) to various Bucks County-based organizations.
“From providing technological upgrades for local police departments to expanding services to organizations protecting victims of domestic violence, these grants will go so far in better protecting the residents of Bucks County,” Sen. Santarsiero said. “I look forward to working with my colleagues in the State House, Representatives Ullman and Warren, in delivering more resources to the critically important criminal justice programs that serve our communities.”
“I’m thrilled that these programs have received these grants because they serve some of the most vulnerable populations in our community,” Rep. Ullman said. “It’s critical that these programs have sufficient funds to perform the vital work they do. I will continue to look for more opportunities to support Bucks County.”
“This grant will help Lower Makefield upgrade its record management system, reduce costs and improve efficiency,” Rep. Warren said. “I will continue to look for opportunities to support municipal services in our communities.”
The following grants were awarded in the 10th senatorial district:
Criminal Justice Advisory Committee (CJAC)-Byrne Justice Assistance Grant: $10,000 for the Central Bucks Regional Police Department for a technology upgrade.
CJAC-2019 County Jail-Based Vivitrol Program: $500,000 to the Bucks County Commissioners for the Bucks County Jail-Based Recovery Programs.
CJAC-Residential Substance Abuse & Treatment (RSAT) Funds: $125,000 to Bucks County Commissioners for the Bucks County Corrections HEART Program.
Victims Services Advisory Committee (VSAC)-2019-2021 Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) Funding (Competitive): $541,940 to A Woman’s Place to expand critical domestic violence services
VSAC – 2019-2020 Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) Funding – Noncompetitive Extension: $510,506 to A Woman’s Place for the VOCA 19-20 Non-Competitive FA Extension. $850,846 was awarded to Network of Victim Assistance (NOVA) for the NOVA VOCA Project Extension.
CJAC – Byrne Justice Assistance Grant: $48,719 to Lower Makefield Township Lower Makefield to upgrade its record management system.
You can view all the grants awarded by the PCCD here.
BUCKS COUNTY − June 10, 2019 − In front of the former office of Liberation Way in Yardley, an addiction treatment center accused of defrauding patients and health insurance companies, state Senator Steve Santarsiero (D-10), and state Representatives Tina Davis (D141) and Perry Warren (D-31) introduced SB 713 and HB 1018, legislation that would charge fraudulent addiction treatment facilities in Pennsylvania with a felony at the state level.
“Patient brokering, a practice relied upon by Liberation Way, essentially trades patient referrals for kickbacks,” Sen. Santarsiero said. “This facility was unregulated and ill-equipped to be of any help to the patients seeking treatment. This legislation would create three different felonies relating to the number of patients affected. It is my hope that by putting a stop to patient brokering, people in need of treatment will have access to real resources and programs that will help them into recovery.”
In the House, Rep. Davis introduced HB 1018, which mirrors SB 713.
“I strongly believe we need to pass this legislation immediately,” Rep. Davis said. “People’s lives are at stake and we cannot allow profiteers to take advantage of families when their loved ones are in this vulnerable state. They demand our support and protection.”
“The addiction crisis is tremendous and it effects all of our communities,” Rep. Warren said. “Every dime that is allocated to preventing opioid addiction and encouraging recovery should be spent on recovery and prevention, not on bribes, kickbacks, and brokering. Regulations like this benefit the centers and organizations that do it the right way.”
Senator Santarsiero and Representatives Davis and Warren were joined by Bryan Kennedy, CEO of Independence Lodge, and Michele Butler, a New Britain resident who has witnessed what happens when addiction treatment facilities are left unregulated and unsupervised.
“Patient brokering is an unethical and inappropriate practice,” Kennedy said. “It hurts our field, it hurts our programs, and most importantly, it hurts our patients.”
“My neighbors and I believe this bill is an important step in building regulated, transparent, effective, and affordable systems of treatment for people struggling with addiction,” Butler said. “What we have witnessed and continue to witness is the devastation businesses built on brokering and fraud create. We are here today to put an end to these practices.”
“This industry, like so many others, is rife with people who are trying to take advantage through unscrupulous business practices like patient brokering,” Santarsiero said as he ended the press conference. “By passing Senate Bill 713 and House Bill 1018, we can make a difference on the state level.”
Video of the press conference can be found here.