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Legislative Update – July 2015

HB 1276, known as Act 15 of 2015 ((the “Amendment”) amends Act 153 of 2014 (the “Act”)

regarding background checks for employees and volunteers who provide services to children. Sponsored by Rep. Kathy Watson (R-Buck), the Amendment clarifies the Act as to which volunteers must get clearances, the renewal period for clearances of volunteers and employees, the reduction of costs to obtain clearances, the clearances needed by post-secondary employees and the deadlines for clearances.

Volunteers must get clearances if they have direct volunteer contact with children, that is, “care,

supervision, guidance or control of children and routine interaction with children.” Clearances for new

volunteers must be obtained by August 25, 2015; December 31, 2015, for existing employees; and July I,

2015, for existing volunteers. The two $10 fees (for department of Human Services child abuse clearance

and state police criminal background check) have been reduced to $8 each for employees and waived

for volunteers. Higher education employees are exempt from background checks unless their students

participate in dual enrollment (college and high school concurrently). Governor Wolf signed the

Amendment on August 1, 2015, and it took effect immediately.

HB 131, known as Act 11 of 2015 (the “Amendment”) amends the Act of December 15, 1982,

conferring limited residency status on military personnel, their dependents and civilian personnel

assigned to active duty in Pennsylvania (the “Act”). The Amendment amends the Act to clarify that all

veterans and their families who qualify for GI Bill education benefits are charged the same tuition rates

as in-state students in Pennsylvania. Under the Act, a colleges or university could lose federal education

benefits even for veterans already enrolled and using their GI Bill benefits if the institution chose (as it

could before the Amendment) to charge out-of-state veterans the full out-of-state tuition.

The Amendment changes the Act by stating that “resident” for in-state tuition purposes at

“community colleges, public institutions of learning, and state-related and state-owned institutions of

higher learning should be construed to mean and include [1]veterans, their spouses and dependent

children (“Family Members”) who do not currently reside in Pennsylvania,” [2] Family Members who are

assigned to an active duty station and who reside in Pennsylvania or [3] Family Members who are

employed at a Department of Defense facility who are transferred to Pennsylvania by the Department of

defense and who reside here. Eligibility extends to spouses, surviving spouses and children for resident

rates or local sponsor rates at community colleges eligible under federal law. Governor Wolf signed the

Amendment on June 29, 2015, and it took effect July 1, 2015.