Bills approved by the Legislature
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Bills approved by the Legislature yesterday included:
House Bill 2525, aimed at cracking down on "puppy mills," which requires larger cages for animals in commercial dog kennels, prohibits cages with wire flooring, requires veterinarian care for kennel dogs every six months, and requires kennel owners to give the dogs regular exercise.
House Bill 2200, which imposes new rules on how utilities acquire teir power and requires installation of "smart meters" in new construction. These meters will give consumers price breaks for using electricity at off-peak hours, such as midnight. But the bill doesn't include measures on protecting consumers when electricity rate "caps" expire in two years for several utilities, including Allegheny Energy. Officials will continue talks in 2009 on cushioning ratepayers from "rate shocks" -- electric costs jumping by 30 percent to 70 percent in 2010 and 2011.
House Bill 1845, which requires the death penalty or life imprisonment for anyone convicted of killing a police officer. Anyone convicted of assaulting an officer with a firearm would face a mandatory 20 years in prison.
House Bill 834, which bans forced overtime for nurses and other health care workers in hospitals and nursing homes. Health care unions have worked for years for a law banning mandatory overtime for nurses and other "health caregivers." Advocates said medical errors are more likely when nurses are forced to work up to 18 hours in a row.
"This is one big positive step forward for patients and nurses across Pennsylvania," said Kathy Magaro, a nurse and union official. Nurses can still be required to work overtime in certain cases, such as natural disasters, terrorist attacks or unexpected, large-scale "call offs" of hospital personnel.
House Bill 1742, which requires scrap metal dealers who buy more than $100 of scrap metal from a seller at one time must make a copy of the seller's drivers license, license plate number and signature.
Senate Bill 295, which will bar commercial diesel vehicles from idling more than five minutes in a 60-minute period. It's aimed at reducing fumes and noise.
First Published October 9, 2008 12:00 am