The Pennsylvania Senate Wednesday passed key legislation, which will now move to the House of Representatives for consideration.
The approved bills target the state’s volunteer firefighter shortage, update the state’s Automobile Lemon Law, and make it easier for farmers to deliver products to homes and businesses.
Senate Bill 114, sponsored by Sen. Michelle Brooks (R-Crawford/Lawrence/Mercer) addresses the severe shortage of firefighters by creating a pilot program for community colleges and universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) to provide training in firefighting to interested high school students.
Pennsylvania currently has fewer than 37,000 volunteer firefighters, a severe drop from the 300,000 the state listed in the 1970s.
The bill is aimed at awarding three grants of $150,000 each to three community colleges of PASSHE schools. One grant would be for the eastern part of the state, another for Central Pennsylvania, and the third for the state’s western part.
Brooks said in a statement she added the regional components to the bill to ensure equal access to the pilot program. Having grants covering three regions also eases the time burden and expense Pennsylvanians would face by having to travel across the state to participate in the program.
“Our volunteer firefighter community is struggling with both recruitment and retention of the heroes who respond at a moment’s notice to protect our families and communities,” said Brooks. “There are more demands on our firefighters than ever before, and this legislation builds on my continued efforts to help address the challenges our emergency responders are facing.”
Brooks also reintroduced Senate Bill 155, which seeks to add motorcycles to vehicles protected by the state’s Automobile Lemon Law. The bill passed through the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure committee and heads to the Senate floor for consideration.
The Lemon Law protects against manufacturer defects that diminish the safety, use, or value of a newly purchased vehicle. Under the law, defects must have occurred within warranty terms, 12 months from the date the vehicle is delivered to the purchaser, or within 12,000 miles driven.
“However, similar protections are not offered to those who purchase motorcycles, leaving the owner to either pay out of pocket to repair potentially dangerous manufacturing defects or fix the problem themselves,” Brooks said. “Last session, this legislation was revised and strengthened, thanks to the combined efforts of ABATE, motorcycle manufacturers and dealers, and other important stakeholders.”
Currently, Pennsylvania’s Lemon Law applies to personal vehicles and not to motorcycles, motorhomes, commercial vehicles, or off-road vehicles. Motorcycles would be added as protected vehicles in Brooks’ bill. They would be eligible for refund or replacement within the warranty terms or 12 months of delivery, whichever occurred first.
The Senate also approved Bill 95 to enable farmers who have a farm vehicle registration plate to deliver milk and agricultural products to residents’ homes or businesses.
The legislation was introduced by Sen. Wayne Langerholc (R-Cambria/Centre/Clearfield), who emphasized that farmers are essential to the state’s economy and livelihood.
“With the growing demand for at-home delivery services, farmers deserve our support – not bureaucratic red tape,” said Langerholc. “This bill will help farmers meet the rising demand for farm products delivered to homes and businesses, while giving consumers the opportunity to enjoy our state’s agricultural products with a more convenient method.”
Current law limits farmers from transporting products from their farm to a home residence. While the vehicle code allows for home deliveries via a commercial vehicle registration, it also prevents the commercial vehicle from being registered as a farm vehicle.
Farmers are thus required to purchase, register, and maintain a separate commercial vehicle for at-home delivery, while also maintaining a farm vehicle to deliver agricultural commodities to places of business.
Langerholc’s legislation streamlines the home delivery of milk and other agricultural products and has the support of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau.
“With one less burdensome requirement, farmers can focus on what matters most – feeding Pennsylvania,” Pennsylvania Farm Bureau said in a statement.