Here are some of the latest Pennsylvania laws and legislations to know about for the upcoming year.
REAL ID Act Changes
Effective Jan. 30, 2017, Pennsylvania ID holders cannot use their ID to enter federal buildings, military buildings and nuclear power plants since current licenses and IDs are not in compliance with federal requirements.
In order for the state to create Real ID-compliant cards, the legislature will need to pass a law abolishing Act 38 of 2012, which restricts the commonwealth from participating in the Real ID Act to maintain privacy rights for Pennsylvanians.
Real ID costs $100 million to implement and $40 million to maintain annually.
If the Department of Homeland Security does not grant Pennsylvania an extension or if the state does not comply by Jan. 22, 2018, Pennsylvania residents will need to present an alternative form of acceptable identification, like a passport, to the Transportation Security Administration to board a commercial flight.
Conversion Therapy Ban
Pittsburgh City Council voted unanimously on Dec. 13 to ban conversion therapy of LGBTQ+ minors in Pittsburgh. The ban on conversion therapy, which is a psychological therapy designed to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity, makes the practice illegal conduct in Pittsburgh.
Five states — Vermont, New Jersey, Illinois, California and Oregon — as well as the Washington, D.C. area, Cincinnati, Seattle and Miami Beach, ban conversion therapy for minors. In February 2016, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo introduced regulations to ban conversion therapy for minors.
Mayor Bill Peduto signed the legislation into law on Dec. 20.
E-cigarette legislation in Allegheny County
The Trib Live reported the Allegheny County Council passed a ban regarding the use of e-cigarettes in public spaces to the Health and Human Services Committee at a Jan. 3 meeting. The full council will vote on the bill after the committee discusses it.
The ban, which the Allegheny County Health Department recommended in November, prohibits the use of e-cigarettes in enclosed public places and work spaces, including health care related services and public transportation. The bill also prohibits food service workers from using e-cigarettes during food preparation or service or in certain areas used for washing and food preparation.
Pittsburgh 2017 Operating and Capital Budgets
Pittsburgh’s City Council passed a $539 million operating budget and $74 million capital budget in November to fund more public safety personnel, more street paving and more playground equipment in 2017.
The Operating Budget includes the creation of the Department of Mobility and Infrastructure, which will plan, finance and implement citywide transportation projects, like a plan to implement smart transportation in the city.
The capital budget includes public works projects like street resurfacing, facility improvements and the installation of a computerized station alerting system for fire and EMS stations.
Free the Six-Pack
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf passed HB 1196 on Nov. 15, which called for the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board to allow gas stations, with proper accommodations, to sell beer. While this bill address a few new regulations for licensees, including allowing retail licensees to start selling at 9 a.m. on Sundays instead of 11 a.m., beer and liquor can now be sold at professional and amateur athletic events, outside restaurant areas and at entertainment events.
Gas Prices on the Rise
Gas prices are expected to rise in Pennsylvania in January when a raise in fuel taxes — which went into effect Jan. 1 — may increase the state’s tax to the equivalent of 58.3 cents per gallon, Lancaster Online reports. Before the tax, Pennsylvania already had the highest gas tax in the United States, measuring in at 50 cents per gallon.
Pittsburgh’s Mayoral Election
Current Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto will run for re-election in November 2017. According to The Incline, Peduto announced his run for re-election at his annual holiday party on Dec. 14. Peduto became Pittsburgh’s mayor in January of 2014, after serving on Pittsburgh’s City Council from 2002 to 2014 and running for mayor twice previously.
No other candidates have officially come forward, though City Councilwoman Darlene Harris is speculated to run against Peduto.
The primary for the municipal election is scheduled for May 16, 2017 and the municipal, judicial and school board elections are scheduled for November 2017.