A blog of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section


House and Senate return to session for final administrative work

Fresh from the November 8 election, the House and Senate return to Harrisburg this week to get acquainted with their new members and reorganize for the coming session.  The House meets November 14 and 15.  The Senate meets November 16.

There is no indication there will be further votes on any legislation by either the House or Senate, but several committees have scheduled meetings on some hot-button topics.

The House Judiciary Subcommittee On Courts, charged under House Resolution 659 (Everett-R-Lycoming) with determining whether now ex-Attorney General Kathleen Kane should be impeached, is scheduled to hold not one but two hearings on that topic.

In a related action, Attorney General Bruce Beemer said his Office’s report on porn mail started by Kane would be released next week.

After the sessions this week, the House and Senate will then formally end the 2015-2016 legislative session.

Everything starts over again on January 3 when the House and Senate formally organize and select leaders and, later in January, name committee chairs.

(Source:  Crisci Associates PA Capitol Digest)

On the Governor’s Desk

Hunting Weapons: House Bill 263 (Gabler-R-Clearfield) removing the prohibition of air, chemical or gas cylinder powered, semi-automatic weapons for hunting.

Withholding Officer Names Involved In Shootings: House Bill 1538 (White-R- Philadelphia) further providing for the release of law enforcement officer information when a firearm is discharged or force is used (House Fiscal Note and summary).

(Source:  Crisci Associates PA Capitol Digest)

Election results

The results of the November 8 election gave Senate Republicans three new members from Cambria, Dauphin and Erie counties and a veto-proof majority.  The 34 to 16 Republican majority is the largest GOP majority in 70 years.

House Republicans won 4 more seats in Beaver, Fayette, Washington and Westmoreland counties, but lost one in Monroe County.  The 122 to 81 Republican majority is the largest GOP majority in the House since 1958.

Republican Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton by 64,000 votes out of 5.7 million votes cast for President in Pennsylvania, about 1,000 votes in each county, and incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Pat Toomey beat Katie McGinty by 96,000 votes.

But, Democrats, by wider margins, won all 3 the statewide row offices– Josh Shapiro for  Attorney General, Eugene DePasquale was re-elected Auditor General and Joseph Torsella as State Treasurer.

There were no changes in party alignment in Pennsylvania’s U.S. House delegation.  It remains at 13 to 5.

The ballot question raising the judicial retirement age from 70 to 75 passed by only 91,000 votes of 4.8 million cast.  900,000 fewer people voted for the referendum than for President.

(Source:  Crisci Associates PA Capitol Digest)

Hearsay and authentication of nonexistence of public records.  In Re: Order Amending Rules 803(6), 803(8) and 803(10) Approving the Revision of the Comments to Rules 802, 803(7) and 803(9), and Adopting New Rule 902(13) of the Pennsylvania Rules of Evidence No. 715 Supreme Court Rules Docket.   

Click for Order

Click for text of Rules

Click for final report

Expungement and limited access of criminal records.  In Re: Order Adopting New Rule 791 and Amending Rules 490 and 790 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure No. 481 Criminal Procedural Docket

Click for Order

Click for text of Rules

Click for final report

Applicants sought of Boards of the Supreme Court

Interbranch Commission for Gender, Racial and Ethnic Fairness

Deadline to apply:  November 15, 2016

Click for more information

Juvenile Court Procedural Rules Committeed

Deadline to apply:  November 30, 2016

Click for more information

State Health Department seeks input on rules for laboratory testing of medical marijuana

Department of Health Secretary Dr. Karen Murphy Monday asked for public input on the proposed temporary regulations for laboratories that would be responsible for testing medical marijuana.  Comments are due November 18.

“We’re especially looking for comments from the laboratory community to help us develop regulations that protect the integrity of the medical marijuana testing process,” Secretary Murphy said. “As we move forward in this ground-breaking effort, we want to make sure that patient safety is paramount, and laboratories are essential to meeting that goal. These regulations are designed to ensure we have a safe and responsible process in place.”

The proposed temporary regulations outline:

— Protocols for sampling, testing, and reporting;

— Quality assurance programs that need to be in place;

— Transportation of samples from grower/processor facilities;

— The financial, legal, and operational requirements needed by an individual to be considered for a laboratory permit; and

— How those permits would be approved.

A survey also is available on the department’s website for patients who will be eligible for the Medical Marijuana Program to help ensure the program will meet their needs.

The survey will be available on the department’s website until 5:00 p.m. on Friday, November 18.

The medical marijuana program was signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf on April 17, 2016. Since that time, the department has:

— Completed the Safe Harbor temporary guidelines and Safe Harbor Letter application process, as well as approved 115 applications to date;

— Released public surveys to aid in the development of temporary regulations for growers/processors and dispensaries/laboratories;

— Developed the Medical Marijuana Physician Workgroup, which is scheduled to meet again on November 28; and

— Released a Request for Information for Electronic Tracking IT solutions for the tracking of medical marijuana.

Full implementation of the program is expected to take between 18 and 24 months. The program will provide access to medical marijuana for patients who are Pennsylvania residents under a physician’s care for the treatment of a serious medical condition as defined by Act 16.

Questions about the medical marijuana program can be emailed to RA-DHMedMarijuana@pa.gov or visit Health’s Medical Marijuana Program webpage.

(Source:  Crisci Associates PA Capitol Digest)

New PA Supreme Court eases ethical challenge for lawyers advising clients on medical marijuana.

Click for report form Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.






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