1. Libre’s Law 

Gov. Tom Wolf signed House Bill 1238 on a picture-picture June day alongside State Reps who sponsored the legislation, animals, and one dog, in particular, Libre.

The new law puts meaning behind animal cruelty from racehorses to honey bees. Rules are laid out for dogs time in the heat or cold, and tether regulations.

Rep. Frank Farry authored Act 10 of Libre’s Law, which provides civil immunities to humane society officers.

“Humane society officers often put themselves in potentially dangerous situations to protect animals from horrendous conditions,” Farry said. “They should be able to continue reasonable animal protection efforts without fear of being sued.”

2. Recovery Home Guidelines 

New policies and procedures for inspection of recovery homes, as well as penalties for violators, became law days after the Senate passed SB 446. The new measures update a 1929 law known as The Administrative Code.

The growing concern in the rise of opioid overdoses put several questions in motion for satisfactory recovery homes for many legislators.

Sen. Tommy Tomlinson was a sponsor of the bill. The new guidelines include recommendations from an organization Rep. Farry established in 2014, the Certification of Drug and Alcohol Recovery Houses Task Force (CDARH).

Farry spoke with Pat Wandling, host of WBCB 1490’s show Speak Your Piece on Dec. 15 about how the original law has “unintended consequences” local and state authorities must follow. 

3. Casino Expansion 

The Keystone State, under HB 27, can add 10 “mini-casinos,” as well as, online, airport and truck stop gambling options.

Additional revenue will be expected from the increased gambling options to help offset the $32 billion budget Gov. Wolf signed. Several local municipalities receive pieces of an $850 thousand annual revenue share from Parx Casino, and all nine Bucks’ State Rep. voted against the bill when it went barreling through the House.

Bucks’ latest move was the Commissioner’s vote to block Act 42 of the new law which allows video gaming terminals in truck stops. Commissioner Chairman Charles Martin stated the county’s lack of benefit right now, but can always reconsider a vote if the law changes.

4. Right To Try 

On Oct. 11, HB 45 was approved to allow terminally ill patients the right to try investigational drugs, biological products, and medical devices with approval from their doctor.

Reps Farry, Kathy Watson, and Perry Warren were all Bucks’ House sponsors. Throughout the county, U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Matthew Bellina, Bucks resident shared his battle with ALS and the desire to try. He told WBCB it means hope and, “The fact that there is a ray of light coming through.”

Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick took Bellina’s testimony to a committee hearing. In 2016, Bellina was able to get his message to President Donald Trump during his campaign stop in Newtown.

5. REAL ID Extension 

The REAL ID Act, passed in 2005, made a landmark decision for PA residents this past year. One major factor, the need for a REAL ID-compliant license to fly domestically or enter a federal facility by the start of 2018. However, nearly half the U.S. did not meet the minimum standards and states began filing extension requests.

The Act was recommended by the 9/11 Commission to enhance several areas in regards to the Department of Homeland Security.

In Oct, Gov. Wolf announced the DHS’s approval for PA’s extension. Residents now have until Spring 2019.