Legislative Update — August 10, 2017

The revenue package for the state budget has not yet been finalized, with no resolution in sight.  The state Senate has passed a revenue package that includes tax increases, including a first-ever severance tax on natural gas drilling.  The House however, has expressed its displeasure regarding the revenue enhancements.  Leaders, members and staff are taking their time reviewing the tax code bill sent over by the Senate and the related budget code bills.  Last week, State Treasurer Joe Torsella and Auditor General Eugene DePasquale announced the authorization of a $750 million loan to keep the state going.

Right now, the Senate stands in recess and the House is on a six-hour call. The buzz in Harrisburg is we won’t see resolution on the spending column of the budget until after Labor Day.

In the meantime, things have been busy in our efforts to make the courts make sense!  Check out PCCJR’s hour-long interview on It’s a New Day, read our blog on the risk of the opioid crisis being used as a lawsuit cash cow, and find out the latest on our efforts to reduce frivolous lawsuits against nursing homes, protect landowners and fight for consumer protections.

Finally, don’t forget we want to hear from you! If you have been victimized by a lawsuit, tell us what happened and its impact.  Your stories are an important part of our story and will help us demonstrate why reforms are need to make Pennsylvania’s legal system fair and just for everyone.

 

PCCJR Featured on It’s a New Day

Courts need to be fair for everyone. WFLY’s Kim Kennedy recently dedicated an entire hour of It’s a New Day to discuss changes being considered in Pennsylvania to prevent frivolous lawsuits. Hear the entire discussion on this podcast on how we can make the PA courts make sense and be sure to let us know what you think!

 

PA Should Not Use Opioid Crisis as Lawsuit Cash Cow

Harkening back to the 1990s when states sued the big tobacco companies to offset medical expenses incurred treating tobacco related illnesses, two legislative resolutions are currently in play urging the governor and Attorney General to sue pharmaceutical companies over opioid addiction.  HR 363 and a yet to be introduced companion resolution in the Senate have not passed yet, but recently, Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced he would start looking into such a suit.

While suing pharmaceutical companies has become in vogue among states and even individual counties, the legal gesture doesn’t make it the right move against opioid addiction.  Read more.

Rep. Kampf says HB1037 would ‘reduce frivolous litigation’ against nursing facilities

Via PennRecord by Olivia Olsen | Jul. 31, 2017

HARRISBURG – Fearing the outcome of continued excessive litigation against Pennsylvania nursing home facilities, House Representative Warren Kampf (R) has sponsored HB1037 with hopes of protecting those who care for the state’s elderly population. The bill, introduced for the 2017 session, was referred to the House Judiciary Committee in March.

Essentially working to amend a 2002 state policy known as the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error (Mcare) Act, Kampf and the bill’s 26 other sponsors hope to limit the amount of punitive damages one may seek against a nursing facility. In Kampf’s March 6 memorandum, he states that purpose of HB1037 is “to provide further lawsuit-abuse reform for our long-term care facilities throughout the Commonwealth.” Read more

 

 

Lawmaker Thinks His Bill Protecting Landowners From Lawsuits Will Pass

Via PennRecord  by Glenn Minnis | Jul. 20, 2017HARRISBURG – Rep. Dan Moul, R- Adams, thinks he can finally see the finish line in his fight to protect landowners from liability for the recreational use of their lands. After seven years of pushing the bill, Moul expects House Bill 544 to pass through the House any day now before heading to the Senate and ultimately the desk of Gov. Tom Wolf for his signature.

“I’ve got assurances on this,” Moul told the Pennsylvania Record. “I think this time will be the charm. It’s a good bill, and I believe the governor will jump at the chance to sign it once it lands on his desk.” Read more.

 

House panel OKs bill to raise the stakes onconsumer protection; Civil justice group says it most benefits lawyers

HARRISBURG – Rep. Anthony DeLuca’s bill to raise minimum damages awarded for violations of the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection law passed a House committee in late June with almost no opposition.bill to raise minimum damages awarded for violations of the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection law passed a House committee.

House Bill 475 raises the minimum from $100 to $500 in cases of minor violations to the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection law.

HB475 passed in the committee with almost no opposition. Read more.

Send us you horror stories! 

Your horror story could make a difference.  We need your stories of frivolous lawsuits to help us illustrate the very real problem of lawsuit abuse.  If you have been victimized by a lawsuit — or multiple lawsuits — tell us what happened and how it impacted you.  Sharing your story makes an otherwise “legal” issue — real, personal and a problem that needs to be solved!  Have a story to tell us?  Just click here.

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