Friday, April 11, 2008

State Capitol Roundup for April 11

Courtesy of state Rep. Bob Mensch, R-147, here's some news on what Republican lawmakers have been up to in Harrisburg.

House Moves to Toughen Penalties Surrounding Straw Purchases of Guns

In a unanimous vote, legislation to combat illegal gun violence has won the support of the House. Under House Bill 1845, individuals in possession of a firearm with an altered serial number would face tougher penalties. Also, heightened penalties for straw purchases and for lying on federal paperwork to buy a gun were key components of the legislation. The measure prohibits the unlawful seizure of firearms during emergencies and ensures that U.S. military deployed overseas can have a valid license to carry a firearm when they return. Finally, lawmakers agreed to create a registry for lost or stolen guns; however, there are no penalties if a person fails to report the loss or theft of a weapon. With the passage of this legislation and their participation in a rally for Second Amendment rights this week, House Republicans remain committed to improving public safety while preserving the right of law-abiding citizens to own firearms. For more information on public safety initiatives, visit

House GOP Urges Action on Recently Passed Mortgage Proposals

Problems with the national housing market have spilled over into Pennsylvania and the state House is taking action to prevent predatory lending and other abuses in the mortgage industry in the future. One proposal would require that all mortgage operators hold a license to do business in the Commonwealth. Lawmakers suggest that such a license creates an efficient means of tracking and penalizing operators who do not adhere to standards. Three other pieces of legislation received the unanimous support of the House: House Bill 1082 would allow the Banking Department to release information to consumers about pending actions against a mortgage operator; House Bill 1083 creates a statewide loan delinquency reporting system; and House Bill 1084 would raise the pre-payment penalty exclusion on residential mortgage loans from $50,000 to $197,000. The bills now go to the Senate for consideration.

GOP Lawmaker Urges Enhanced Benefits for Reservists and National Guardsmen

Legislation sponsored by Rep. Jerry Nailor (R-Cumberland) to improve health insurance coverage for Pennsylvania's military reservists and National Guard members was unanimously reported out of committee this week. The bill continues dental and vision coverage for reservists and National Guard members who return to college following their service. The proposal compliments similar legislation from 2005 that extended basic health care coverage. Insurance plans typically cover students until age 23 to age 25. Nailor's House Bill 521 would extend that cutoff for a period equal to the duration of the student's active duty service or until he or she is no longer enrolled in college. The legislation has been sent to the House Appropriations Committee for consideration.

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