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Pa. Governor Expected to Sign Emergency-Responder Bills

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Gov. Ed Rendell is expected to sign a package of bills requiring certain municipalities to consult with their local emergency responders to ensure that fire and medical services are provided.

Rep. Tony Melio, D-Bucks, sponsored the three bills that cleared the House and Senate on unanimous votes earlier this month. Rep. Ron Miller, R-Jacobus, is a co-sponsor.

While most municipalities cooperate with their emergency responders, the bills are aimed at a handful where officials "were not even speaking to each other and things weren't getting done," said Patrick Cusick, executive director of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee.

The bills also require fire and EMS organizations that get municipal funding to provide an annual itemized list of expenditures to the municipality.

The package affects boroughs and first- and second-class townships.

A similar bill affecting third-class cities is pending and expected to clear the Legislature soon.

The legislation was recommended by a special commission created in 2003 to study emergency services in Pennsylvania.

"These are good bills to ensure our families are safe and the fire and EMS personnel have the resources they need," said Rep. Stan Saylor, R-Windsor Township, who backed the recommendations.

In York County, there have been minor feuds in recent years over issues such as fire company audits, but no major problems, Saylor said.

The Pennsylvania Association of Township Supervisors backs the final language in the bill, assistant executive director Elam Herr said. The association pushed for changes in the original language because they feared it would require townships to provide funding without having control over how it was spent, Herr said.

"We want to make sure townships are not in a position where a non-elected body dictates how taxpayer money is spent," Herr said.

AT A GLANCE:

Gov. Ed Rendell is expected to sign the legislation next month. It will then take effect in 60 days.

For more state, national and world news, visit http://www.eveningsun.com/stnatwor.

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