What's in a name?

Apparently, quite a bit when it comes to the word "welfare" in the halls of government.

Pennsylvania's General Assembly signed off Monday night on a proposal to rename the state government's second largest department, the Department of Public Welfare (behind only the Department of Education in the 2013-2014 state budget).

What will it be called in the future? The Department of Human Services.

Why? Apparently, some nonprofits believe the term "welfare" is a negative in the eyes of many. And some legislators agreed.

"This is a huge step forward for improving the dignity of everyone who has relied on the department for their health and well-being," state Representative Thomas Murt, R-Montgomery, said on his website. "This more accurately reflects that 90 percent of DPW activities are for health and human services. The agency's mission is to promote, improve and sustain the quality of family life, break the cycle of dependency and protect and serve Pennsylvanian's most vulnerable citizens. Only one of the department's seven program offices deals with what one would consider welfare."

But don't expect to notice any difference in the way the DPW is seen for the next couple years, even if the state Senate passes it and Gov. Tom Corbett signs the change into effect. The department with a nearly $11 billion budget will "budget" the name change: The legislation self-mandated that the new name be as cost-neutral as possible. Many logos, signs and badges already issued to workers and on department buildings would not switch over until they deteriorated to the point of needing replacement.

Murt, who sponsored the bill, added: "If we want to reduce or eliminate welfare in Pennsylvania, let's start with the name."

Gov. Tom Corbett already appears to be putting Murt's proposal into action: He issued a four-page news release Tuesday touting "Historic Funding for Human Services." It lists "record funding" for programs like domestic violence and rape crisis services and for older Pennsylvanians as well as increased funding for Pennsylvanians with physical and intellectual disabilities and healthcare facilities.

The word "services" is used 19 times. The word "welfare" is not found.