Bellevue Bulletin 01/25/2019: Council’s First Session Sees Controversial Bills
We’re nearing in the 35th day of the federal government shutdown, and the Senate’s attempt to reopen the government on February 8th has failed. President Trump has since announced that he will not give the annual State of the Union address until after the government opens, but for now, the stalemate continues. After the Senate’s two failed attempts to get back into action, there’s no telling how long it will last.
Despite the shutdown, Philadelphia’s City Council had its first session of the new year. Let’s recap some of the bills that were held over from last year:
Council’s last session of the 2018 calendar year saw more than 40 bills passed but left two significant ones lying on the table. Namely, a bill that would regulate pharmaceutical sales representatives, which would require salespeople to register with the city and submit the materials they intend to distribute to any healthcare providers or office workers, as well as prohibiting them from giving out free samples, including dinners, to doctors. Despite the holding of this bill last season, Council has said it’s committed to bringing it back to the table in the 2019 season. Supporters of the bill say that the regulations within the bill are needed to address the role of “aggressive marketing” in the city’s ongoing opioid crisis. However, those within the pharmaceutical industry have expressed concern about the ordinance, namely that it discourages connections made in Philadelphia by researchers, scientists, and healthcare providers. At the moment, it’s unclear if this bill will really do much, if anything, to combat the opioid epidemic. The bill was set to be brought back to the table on Thursday but was absent. Does the bill now contain some amendments? Stick with us and we’ll tell you everything we know.
In other news, Philadelphia has developed a new process for halting land sales. The Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority has put the emergency brake on a large portion of public land sales it had been attempting to make after a report from the Philadelphia Inquirer revealed significant political meddling. The majority of land owned by the city has been sold through an obscure process that depends on the approval of the Vacant Property Review Committee. The PRA, however, is the final step in executing the title transfers on all sales, but have since frozen all VPRC-related transfers since November 20th. A single, streamlined system is now in the works.
Follow us on Twitter @PhillyAdvocates to stay updated throughout the shutdown and the new year!
Additionally, if you are a federal worker or looking for some ways to help out, the Philadelphia Inquirer has created a comprehensive guide of where to find help, and how to help. Check it out here.