EDITORIAL: Glimmers of hope for state
In our politically divided nation, you search for signs of bipartisan cooperation where you can find them.
Over the past few weeks, at least in Pennsylvania, a few faint glimmers of optimism have emerged.
First, Mike Folmer, a Republican state senator who represents part of York County, reintroduced a bill intended to protect the rights of citizens by changing the civil asset forfeiture laws. This much-needed bill has garnered some Democratic support.
Then, legislation was introduced last week to mandate electronic prescribing of opioid medications — a small step toward combating the opioid scourge that is battering the state. The bill's co-sponsors include Reps. Carol Hill-Evans, D-York City, and Kristin Phillips-Hill, R-York Township.
Two York County legislators from opposing parties working together on anything is truly welcome news.
Even better, the cooperation is being forged on a vitally important issue to the state. The heroin epidemic is a deadly problem for all of us — rich and poor, urban and rural, Democrat and Republican. It respects no classes, no geographic boundaries and no political parties.
Pennsylvania doctors are currently required to give patients handwritten opioid prescriptions. That's right, in the 21st century when it seems nearly everything is done online, a handwritten piece of paper is required for an opioid prescription. That seems terribly outdated, especially considering written prescriptions are more likely to be lost, stolen, altered or sold.
The proposed bill will help the state track doctors' and patients' opioid prescription habits.
Improved tracking of prescriptions, however, is not the main reason behind the bill. Most importantly, the bill would cut down on the patients' ability to “doctor shop.” That is the situation where patients go to multiple doctors in an effort to increase the chances of landing an opioid prescription.
Under the proposed legislation, however, handwritten prescriptions would still be permitted in emergency situations, such as power outages. That seems more than reasonable.
Hopefully, the latest instances of cooperation across the aisle offer hope for the state budget battle to come.
The news broke over the weekend that a state minimum wage increase was possible this year in Pennsylvania, although it likely will require substantial Democratic concessions on other issues in the Republican-controlled Legislature.
That will almost certainly require our Democratic governor, Tom Wolf, and his Republican opponents in the state House and Senate to — heaven forbid — work together like real adults.
If they need inspiration for that effort, they need look no further than the recent bipartisan cooperation displayed on the civil forfeiture and opioid bills.
They are small but encouraging signs that something truly valuable can still occasionally be accomplished in Harrisburg.