Four bills signed by Shapiro address religious freedom in schools, repeal an outdated law, and more

07 November 2023- Governor Josh Shapiro signed a number of bills into law this week that may have an effect on your everyday life, including in schools.

The biggest highlight for every day Pennsylvanians comes in the form of what was called Senate Bill 84, sponsored by Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill of York County. Originally calling for “protecting the first amendment right to freedom of religious expression”, the bill amended a portion of a 1949 bill. That bill had a provision called Section 1112, which prohibited a teacher at a public school from wearing any garb, mark, emblem, or insignia that would indicate they are a member of or adherent to any religious order or sect while performing their duties as a teacher. A court case in US District Court of Western Pennsylvania found that Section 1112 violated the first amendment. Governor Shapiro’s signature finally amends the Public School Code of 1949 so that teachers can wear religious symbols in their classroom.

The second bill signed by Shapiro finally repeals what was known as the Frozen Dessert Law. The act signed into law, known as SB 152, was originally penned by local Senator Judy Ward.

“Unnecessary and outdated laws like the Frozen Dessert Law of 1965 can harm Pennsylvania businesses without providing any additional safety for customers,” Ward said. “When multiple layers of government each regulate the same industry and business, it can create redundancies and inefficiencies. This legislation makes it easier for frozen dessert companies to succeed by removing red tape while keeping consumers safe.”

The final two bills concern changes to what was formerly known as the Milk Marketing Board in Pennsylvania and a bill to help cut red rape to children moving between schools due to their parent’s military service.

HB 1170, authored by Rep Christina Sappey, officially renamed the Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board to just the Milk Board. She says that the board “is responsible for the economic regulation of milk in the Commonwealth, it does not actually ‘market’ milk in the sense of promoting, selling, or advertising it as a product.”

Representative Brian Munroe and Milou Mackenzie’s HB 1094 specifically concerns registration for students moving into the commonwealth from out of state and how they can register for schools. Currently, a residency establishment is a major hurdle to allowing kids to quickly transition into the schools, but the new law would eliminate many issues.