Legislation to change the name of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare to the Department of Human Services passed the House before it adjourned for the summer but the Senate left Harrisburg without taking any action on the revised bill. The Senate is scheduled to reconvene in September.
House Bill 993's sponsor Rep. Thomas Murt (R-Montgomery and Philadelphia) said the name change would better define the department’s mission. “Much of what they do is caring for adults with special needs, taking care of seniors who cannot care for themselves, caring for foster children and orphan children. Over the years, the term 'public welfare' has really acquired a negative connotation. We believe it’s important to change it for that reason as well.”
Written into the legislation, according to Murt, are measures to keep the change cost-neutral so money is not diverted from important programs: new signs only when repair or replacement is needed; new stationery, forms, etc. only when stores are depleted.
Murt believes the Senate will approve the name change in the fall and he said Gov. Tom Corbett and DPW Secretary Bev Mackereth support the legislation.