FILE - Telemarketing, robocall

New law gives Pennsylvanians relief from telemarketers

Act 73, recently signed by Gov. Tom Wolf, requires telemarketers who use robocallers to give consumers a way to opt out of the call at the beginning of the call and prohibits calls on legal holidays.

The law, which takes effect the first week of December, expands the state's Do Not Call list to include businesses. Consumers will be on the state’s Do Not Call list permanently and will not be required to renew their registration every five years.

The issue had previously been passed by the House of Representatives but failed to get Senate approval, according to the memo by the bill’s primary sponsor, Rep. Lori Mizgorski, R-Allegheny. This time, the bill passed the Senate unanimously.

State senator files bill to restore arrest powers to school police officers

Sen. Pam Iovino, D-Allegheny and Washington, filed proposed legislation this week that would restore arrest powers of school police officers. 

Act 67, signed by Gov. Tom Wolf this year, shifted detention and arrest powers from school police officers to municipal officers in what Iovino called “an unintentional consequence.” Iovino said her constituents have told her the shift has had a negative impact on school safety and places too much burden on local police officers. 

Iovino is hoping for bipartisan support for the bill that was worked on by the Democrat and Republican caucuses and the Fraternal Order of Police.

DHS expands home visit program for new parents and those with special needs children

New parents and parents of special needs children who receive Medicaid will receive two home visits at no cost beginning in July 2020, according to Gov. Tom Wolf's office. The expansion of the home visit program through the Department of Human Services is due to a collaboration with physical health Medicaid managed care organizations.

Parents who have additional needs may qualify for additional home services. Wolf listed home visits as a priority in his Ready to Start Task Force report issued in September.

“This significantly expanded access to home visiting truly helps to fulfill our mission for increasing the ways to help our youngest residents get a strong, focused beginning,” Wolf said in a statement.

Company accused of scamming low-income Pennsylvanians sued by the AG

A company accused of operating a “rent-to-own” scam targeting low-income Pennsylvanians who could not get a conventional mortgage has been sued by Attorney General Josh Shapiro through the Bureau of Consumer Protection. 

Vision Properties allegedly made “rent-to-own” agreements with residents for homes that were in disrepair. The consumers did not have ownership rights according to the contract and were evicted if they fell behind on payments. The company is also accused of running a “for sale by owner” scam from 2010 to 2013. 

The lawsuit names Vision’s CEO and owner Alex Szkaradek, chairman and owner Antoni Szkaradek, and other affiliated companies allegedly used by the men to purchase foreclosed homes to use in the scheme. The company owns properties through the U.S. and about 600 in Pennsylvania, Shapiro said in a statement.