Ten New Pennsylvania Laws Now In Effect That Could Affect Your Life
1. Protecting animals in hot cars.
Police officers are now permitted to enter a vehicle in order to provide care to an animal believed to be a victim of neglect or living below the minimum standard of care. If the officer believes that the animal is in “imminent danger or harm,” the police officer, after a reasonable search for the operator of the vehicle, can remove the dog or cat from an unattended vehicle. The officer is also required to leave a conspicuous note with the officer’s information and information for where to pick up the pet in the event that the officer removes the pet from the unattended vehicle.
2. Clean Slate Law.
Under this law, people with certain misdemeanors can petition for their records to be sealed. Any person’s misdemeanor records will be automatically sealed in June of 2019 if the defendant has not been convicted for any crime in the last 10 years.
3. DUI Penalties.
This new law increases the consequences for repeat DUI offenders. Drivers who are facing their third DUI offense that have a BAC of .16 percent or drovers facing their fourth DUI offense can now be charged with a felony. This new law also increased the prison sentence for DUI drivers who cause fatal accidents.
4. Drone usage.
This new law increases the criminal penalties for anyone other than law enforcement, utility workers, first responders and some government officials are caught using a drone to spy on someone in a private place.
5. College savings account program.
A new scholarship program (“Keystone Scholars program”) will provide any babies born in Pennsylvania or adopted by Pennsylvania residents, starting on January 1, 2019, a college savings account that has $100 deposited into it.
6. Alimony and support spousal agreements.
The changes to the Federal Tax Law last year makes any new alimony and support spousal agreements or orders sign on January 1, 2019 or after non-deductible for the person that is paying and non-includable for the recipient’s taxable income.
7. Hazing violations at college.
Pennsylvania colleges and universities are now required to issue and publicly post a report on all hazing violations that are reported for the past five years. The report will include the identity of the organization involved, the date of the violation, a description of the violation, and the institution’s investigation of the violation. The report will be updated every six months and must be kept publicly available on the internet.
8. Skin protections at school.
Starting in January, children are allowed to carry an FDA approved non-aerosolized sunscreen with them to school and at school-related activities without having to get a doctor’s note. Kids will also be allowed to apply the sunscreen without having to go to the school nurse to do so. Additionally, the children will be allowed to swear sun-protective clothing or hats while outdoors provided that the articles of clothing do not bear graphics or a message that violates school policy.
9. Electric vehicle charging stations.
The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources plans to install 11 more electric vehicle charging stations at state parks and forests in 2019.
10. Transparency in hospital charges.
Hospitals now must post on their website annually their standard charges for medical and surgical services and diagnostic procedures by medical code. Although the charges are published online, these charges may not reflect the amount a patient may pay for a procedure, service, or good at a hospital.