The Pennsylvania Senate returned to Harrisburg last week, extending its focus beyond state budget negotiations as the upper chamber kicked off the official start of the fall session. Having already sent budget-related fiscal code legislation back to the House of Representatives earlier this month, the state Senate reconvened to consider measures related to civil justice reform, data security, and youth social media use. The House will return to session tomorrow.
Here is a rundown of what happened last week in the legislature of relevance to the business community.
Clean Slate Expansion
The Senate Judiciary Committee met last Tuesday to consider House Bill 689. This bipartisan legislation would expand Pennsylvania’s Clean Slate law to provide for the automatic sealing of certain nonviolent drug-related felonies, given the individual in question has remained crime-free for a period of at least 10 years.
Pennsylvanians with old criminal records are often reluctant to join the workforce out of embarrassment or concern that their records will be used against them. The bill encourages employment among this population and has a minimal impact on employers who are already prohibited in most cases from considering criminal history when making employment decisions.
The PA Chamber supported this legislation (CLICK HERE for our memo), which was later amended to include expungements for individuals granted pardons and reported out of committee by a bipartisan 12-2 vote.
Social Media Access/Data Security
The Senate Communications and Technology Committee met last Tuesday morning to review Senate Bill 22. This legislation regulates access and data collection of minors on social media platforms, including provisions requiring parental consent and notification and allowing individuals to request deletion of information obtained as a minor.
The bill initially included a private cause of action and concurrent jurisdiction for local district attorneys, but the PA Chamber worked with our members and legislators on an amendment to remove these provisions. The amendment passed unanimously. As amended in committee, the Pennsylvania Attorney General now has exclusive jurisdiction to bring claims under the proposed legislation, a far preferable approach to enforcement.
Separately, the same committee also considered Senate Bill 824 during its meeting on Tuesday. This legislation updates the Breach of Personal Information Notification Act to require notice to the Pennsylvania Attorney General and provide for credit monitoring for individuals whose data was breached.
The bill was amended in committee to better define the data subject to credit reporting and monitoring as a combination of an individual’s first and last name with a social security number, bank account, driver’s license, or state ID number. The amendment also clarifies that a business may satisfy the credit monitoring requirement by providing notice of monitoring services that are available at no cost.
Both S.B. 22 and S.B. 824 were subsequently reported by the committee unanimously. The PA Chamber will continue to monitor these bills as they move forward.