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A00879
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA
HOUSE BILL
No.
253
Session of
2021
INTRODUCED BY OWLETT, TOOHIL, PICKETT, BOBACK, HILL-EVANS,
HOHENSTEIN, RYAN, STEPHENS, KAUFFMAN, ROTHMAN, SCHLOSSBERG,
R. BROWN, CIRESI, PASHINSKI, STRUZZI, WARREN AND GLEIM,
JANUARY 26, 2021
REFERRED TO COMMITTEE ON CHILDREN AND YOUTH, JANUARY 26, 2021
AN ACT
Establishing a task force on the opioid abuse epidemic's impact
on children and providing for powers and duties of the task
force.
The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
hereby enacts as follows:
Section 1. Short title.
This act shall be known and may be cited as the Opioid Abuse
Child Impact Task Force Act.
Section 2. Declaration of policy.
The General Assembly finds and declares as follows:
(1) This Commonwealth is one of the states which has
been hardest hit by an epidemic of heroin and prescription
opioid abuse and addiction that is plaguing American society.
(2) One of the more tragic consequences of this epidemic
is the devastating impact it has had and continues to have on
infants and children.
(3) Newborns are suffering through withdrawal from
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opioids because of prenatal exposure to these drugs.
(4) Fatalities and near fatalities of infants and young
children have been linked to parental substance abuse.
(5) Cases of child abuse and neglect linked to parental
substance abuse are increasing, as are the number of children
being removed from their homes and placed in protective
custody because of their parents' drug addiction.
(6) The Commonwealth has a responsibility to protect its
residents, especially children.
Section 3. Definitions.
The following words and phrases when used in this act shall
have the meanings given to them in this section unless the
context clearly indicates otherwise:
"Task force." The task force established in section 4.
Section 4. Establishment.
A task force on the opioid abuse epidemic's impact on
children is established. The task force shall focus on improving
the safety, well-being and permanency of substance-exposed
infants and other young children affected by their parents'
substance abuse disorders.
Section 5. Responsibilities.
The task force is responsible for:
(1) Identifying strategies and making short-term and
long-term recommendations to prioritize the prevention of
substance-exposed infants.
(2) Improving outcomes for pregnant and parenting women
who are striving to recover from addiction.
(3) Promoting the health, safety and permanency of
substance-exposed infants and other young children at risk of
child abuse and neglect or placement in foster care due to
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parental alcohol and drug use.
(4) Ensuring that the Commonwealth is compliant with the
Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (Public Law 93-247,
42 U.S.C. ยง 5101 et seq.) related to identifying substance-
exposed infants and is developing multidisciplinary plans of
safe care for these infants.
Section 6. Members and meetings.
(a) Members.--The task force is comprised of the following
members:
(1) The Secretary of Human Services or a designee who
shall be an employee of the Department of Human Services. The
designee shall be appointed by the Secretary of Human
Services in writing, and a copy of the appointment shall be
submitted to the chairperson of the task force.
(2) The Secretary of Health or a designee who shall be
an employee of the Department of Health. The designee shall
be appointed by the Secretary of Health in writing, and a
copy of the appointment shall be submitted to the chairperson
of the task force.
(3) The Secretary of Drug and Alcohol Programs or a
designee who shall be an employee of the Department of Drug
and Alcohol Programs. The designee shall be appointed by the
Secretary of Drug and Alcohol Programs in writing, and a copy
of the appointment shall be submitted to the chairperson of
the task force.
(4) Three members appointed by the President pro tempore
of the Senate, in consultation with the Majority Leader and
the Minority Leader of the Senate. One member under this
paragraph may be a member of the Senate.
(5) Three members appointed by the Speaker of the House
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of Representatives, in consultation with the Majority Leader
and the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives. One
member under this paragraph may be a member of the House of
Representatives.
(6) Four members appointed by the Governor.
(b) Qualifications.--Individuals appointed under subsection
(a)(4), (5) or (6) must possess professional experience and
expertise in:
(1) obstetric medicine;
(2) pediatric medicine;
(3) behavioral health treatment;
(4) early intervention programs;
(5) county children and youth agency services;
(6) child advocacy; or
(7) neonatal intensive care unit nursing.
(c) Chairperson.--The Governor shall select the chairperson
of the task force.
(d) Appointment.--The members of the task force shall be
appointed within 25 days after the effective date of this
section.
(e) Quorum.--The physical presence of seven members
constitutes a quorum of the task force.
(f) Majority vote.--An action of the task force shall be
authorized or ratified by a majority vote of its members.
(g) Meetings.--
(1) The task force shall meet as necessary but no fewer
than five times prior to November 30, 2021 during the period
ending two months prior to the issuance date of the report.
The first meeting shall be convened within 45 days following
the effective date of this section.
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(2) Additional meetings may be called by the chairperson
as necessary.
(3) The chairperson shall schedule a meeting upon
written request of eight members of the task force.
(4) A member not physically present may participate by
teleconference or video conference.
(h) Compensation.--Members of the task force shall not
receive compensation but shall be reimbursed for reasonable and
necessary expenses incurred in service of the task force.
Section 7. Duties.
The task force has the following duties:
(1) To examine and analyze the existing practices,
processes, procedures and laws relating to the diagnosis and
treatment of substance-exposed infants.
(2) To review and analyze the existing practices,
processes, procedures and laws relating to the safety, well-
being, permanency and placement of children at risk due to
their parents' substance abuse disorders.
(3) To hold public hearings for the taking of testimony
and the requesting of documents.
(4) To make relevant recommendations for improving the
safety, well-being and permanency of substance-exposed
infants and other children adversely affected by their
parents' substance abuse disorders.
(5) To issue a report in accordance with section 10.
Section 8. Hearings.
The task force shall hold public hearings as necessary to
obtain the information required to conduct its review.
Section 9. Agency cooperation.
The Department of Human Services, the Department of Health
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and the Joint State Government Commission shall cooperate to
provide administrative or other assistance to the task force.
Section 10. Reports.
(a) General rule.--The task force shall prepare and submit,
by January 31, 2022 two months prior to the expiration date of
this act, a final report on its activities, findings and
recommendations to the Governor, the Senate and the House of
Representatives. The task force may file status reports and
updates with the Governor, the Senate and the House of
Representatives as it deems appropriate.
(b) Adoption of report.--A report under this section shall
be adopted at a public meeting.
(c) Public record.--A report under this section shall be a
public record under the act of February 14, 2008 (P.L.6, No.3),
known as the Right-to-Know Law.
Section 11. Expiration.
This act expires March 1, 2022 12 months after the effective
date of this act.
Section 12. Effective date.
This act shall take effect immediately.
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