Bills Supported by the PBA Signed into Law
Act 178 of 2014 (Senate Bill 771), sponsored by Sen. John Gordner, creates a Geospatial Coordinating Board that will be empowered to advise the governor on numerous geospatial issues in order to provide uniform data standards. The resulting data will improve land use and transportation planning, homeland security and emergency operations, tax assessment and economic development and will tie in directly with the recorders of deeds system.
Act 172 of 2014 (House Bill 2234), sponsored by Rep. Mike Turzai and Rep. Frank Dermody, creates a comprehensive statutory framework for a business entity to use when changing from one form to another. It also improves the integration of Title 15 by moving to a central set of provisions, applicable to all entities in regard to entity naming and foreign entity registration. The PBA Business Law Section provided extensive input on the measure, which is said to position Pennsylvania as a national leader in this area of the law.
Act 113 of 2014 (House Bill 1337), sponsored by Rep. Tarah Toohil, increases legal aid funding in the commonwealth by a projected $2.4 million.
Act 32 of 2014 (House Bill 436), sponsored by Rep. Todd Stephens, specifies those who are mandated reporters of child abuse. The PBA lobbied to ensure that attorneys acting as attorneys are not mandated reporters. Attorneys affiliated with entities that care for children are addressed under this legislation and protected by the language: "Confidential communications made to an attorney are protected so long as they are within the scope of 42 Pa.C.S. § 5916 (relating to confidential communications to attorney) and 5928 (relating to confidential communications to attorney), the attorney work product doctrine or the rules of professional conduct for attorneys."
Act 20 of 2014 (Senate Bill 84), sponsored by Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, establishes a timeframe and procedure for pursuing a deficiency judgment in Pennsylvania following a sheriff's sale of real property secured by a mortgage or judgment. A deficiency judgment results when a creditor purchases a judgment debtor's real property from a sheriff's sale but believes the value of the property purchased is less than the amount that is owed.
Act 5 of 2014 (Senate Bill 689), sponsored by Sen. Corman, authorizes a court on its own motion to order abduction prevention measures in a child custody proceeding if the court finds that the evidence establishes a credible risk of abduction of the child. Additionally, a party to a child custody determination may file a petition seeking abduction prevention measures to protect the child and a prosecutor may seek a warrant to take physical custody of a child or other appropriate prevention measures.
Act 107 of 2013 (House Bill 414), sponsored by Rep. Todd Stephens, amends Titles 23 (Domestic Relations) and 42 (Judiciary). In child custody, it adds that factors relating to child abuse shall be considered when awarding custody and provides for consideration of child abuse and involvement with child protective services. In child protective services, it provides for release of information in confidential reports and provides for county agency requirements for general protective services. In juvenile matters, it provides for inspection of court files/records, law enforcement records, and the availability of information.
Act 73 of 2013 (House Bill 25), sponsored by Rep. Glen Grell, prohibits notaries public from engaging in the unauthorized practice of law by prohibiting the preparation of legal documents and the providing of legal advice. The new law prohibits deceptive advertising and bans notaries public from the misuse of the term "notario publico," a designation in Spanish-speaking countries that permits an appropriately licensed individual to practice law. The bill also provides minimum standards for all notarial acts, facilitates acts on electronic records and provides for the recognition of unsworn foreign declarations to facilitate international commerce, among other things.
Act 67 of 2013 (Senate Bill 304), sponsored by Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, completes the codification of the Nonprofit Corporation Law, updating the law and making it consistent with the Business Corporation Law while also enacting the Uniform Unincorporated Nonprofit Association Act.
Act 55 of 2013 (House Bill 1075), sponsored by Rep. Dan Moul, amends the Public Welfare Code. The PBA supported the part of the act that requires counties to conduct ongoing efforts to find family for children who become involved with a county Children and Youth Agency, as "family finding" is a successful strategy for serving families whose children have experienced or are at risk for abuse, neglect or other inadequate parental care or control.
Act 36 of 2013 (House Bill 515), sponsored by Rep. Richard Stevenson, amends the MPC, further providing a definition for "electronic notice" and "mailed notice," which is a notice given by a municipality by first-class mail or Internet to a landowner or an owner of mineral rights within a municipality, of the time and place of a public hearing and the particular nature of the matter to be considered at the hearing.
Act 35 of 2013 (House Bill 513), sponsored by Rep. Richard Stevenson, amends Title 20 (Decedents, Estates and Fiduciaries), further providing for settlement of small estates on petition. Under current law a small-estates petition can be used as an alternative to probate if the estate has no real estate and the value of other assets is less than $25,000. As an alternative to a formal accounting a probated estate can be settled by petition if the value of all estate assets (excluding real estate) does not exceed $25,000. The act raises both amounts to $50,000. In addition the act further provides for payments to family and funeral directors, raising various limits from $3,500 and $4,000 to $10,000 and changing language as follows: "Any bank, savings association, savings and loan association, building and loan association, credit union or other savings organization, at any time after the death of a depositor, member or certificate holder, may shall pay the amount on deposit or represented by the certificate, when the total standing to the credit of the decedent in that institution does not exceed. ..."
Act 30 of 2013 (Senate Bill 381), sponsored by Sen. John Eichelberger Jr., provides limited but key UCC, Article 9 (secured transactions), changes. Most significantly, it defines an individual borrower's correct name on the relevant secured transaction paperwork: the name on the borrower's Pennsylvania driver's license or non-driver's license PennDOT-issued ID card. For those without either ID, the borrower's individual name or surname and first personal name is to be used.
Proposed Constitutional Amendments: Criteria for Determining Institutions of Purely Public Charity
Senate Bill 4, sponsored by Sen. Michael Brubaker, is a Joint Resolution proposing an amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution stating that the General Assembly may by law establish uniform standards and qualifications that shall be the criteria to determine qualification as institutions of purely public charity. The bill passed the Senate 30-20 on March 20, 2013, and then passed the House 118-82 on June 26, 2013. Per the Constitution, the legislation awaits passage again during the next session of the General Assembly (2015-16) and, should it obtain such passage, will then be placed on the ballot for final decision by the voters.
Additional information on bills, as well as other legislative and State-Capitol happenings of interest to the PBA, is available by emailing the Legislative Department.
Courtesy of Pennsylvania Legislature Web site at
Be a PBA Grassroots Contact!
Sales Tax on Legal Services Sidestepped in the 2013-14 Legislative Session
Jan./Feb. 2015 Pennsylvania Lawyer magazine "On the Hill" column by PBA staff
An Evening with Bill and Mary
July/Aug. 2014 Pennsylvania Lawyer magazine "On the Hill" column by William P. Carlucci, PABAR-PAC board chair
What We Can Learn from Rhythm and Blues
Nov./Dec. 2013 Pennsylvania Lawyer magazine "On the Hill" column by William P. Carlucci, PABAR-PAC board chair