The House and Senate are in recess. Both houses return for a non-voting session on January 7. Voting sessions resume on January 13.
Governor Signs Bills Protecting Children from Abuse into Law
Gov. Tom Corbett Wednesday signed into law ten bills that put Pennsylvania’s children first by making significant improvements to the state’s child protection laws.
“I thank the General Assembly for their work in passing the first pieces of a comprehensive legislative package to protect Pennsylvania’s children,’’ Corbett said. “The legislation I’m signing today will better equip our communities to protect children, and enhance the safety and security of the commonwealth’s children.”
The new laws follow the recommendations from a November 2012 report by the Pennsylvania Task Force on Child Protection, established through joint resolutions sponsored by Sen. Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland) and Rep. Ron Marsico (R-Dauphin).
From Crisci Associates PA Capitol Digest
The bills the governor signed are:
— Amend the definition of child abuse to lower the threshold from serious bodily injury to bodily injury and include knowingly, recklessly or intentionally committing acts of child abuse or failing to act when child abuse is being committed. The bill also provides exclusions from substantiation of child abuse. (House Bill 726 (Petri-R-Bucks) )
— Broaden the definition of perpetrator to include employees or volunteers that have regular contact, school teachers and employees, and individuals related to the child. (Senate Bill 23 (Baker-R-Luzerne) )
— Recognize that perpetrators can be as young as 18 and create new protections that address false reports and intimidation. (Senate Bill 28 (Browne-R-Lehigh))
— Provide immunity for reporters from liability, penalties for false reporting and improved appeals processes. (Senate Bill 30 (Erickson-R-Delaware))
— Expand the basis for disciplinary action against teachers to include findings of child abuse. (Senate Bill 34 ( Smucker-R-Lancaster))
— Clarify and encourage joint child abuse investigations between county children and youth agencies and law enforcement (Senate Bill 1116 (Washington-D-Philadelphia))
— Instruct the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing to provide guidelines for offenses involving child pornography. (House Bill 321 (Toepel-R- Montgomery))
— Declare that when awarding custody, a parent’s involvement with cases of child abuse shall be considered and provide for information sharing on child protective services and general protective services to the jurisdiction determining custody. (House Bill 414 (O’Neill-R- Bucks))
— Prevent the records and name of minor victims of sexual or physical abuse from being available for public review. (House Bill 1201 (Barbin-D-Cambria))
— Establish the offense of luring a child into a motor vehicle or structure. (House Bill 1594 (Regan-R-York))
“The actions taken by Gov. Corbett and our legislature will create a culture that promotes greater awareness, more accountability and better coordination between state and local government, law enforcement and health and child welfare agencies,” said Department of Public Welfare Secretary Beverly D. Mackereth.
“These new laws are helping to transform our commonwealth into a state with several of the stiffest penalties for child abuse in the nation,” Corbett said. “Enacting stronger child protection laws is one of those important moments when we come together and stand up for those who have suffered in silence and ensure that justice is served.”
In addition to child welfare advocates, Corbett was joined at the live signing in Mechanicsburg by legislative sponsors, Senator Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) and Rep. Scott Petri (R-Bucks), as well as Senator LeAnna Washington (D-Philadelphia), Rep. Mike Regan (R-York), Rep. Ron Marsico (R-Dauphin), Rep. Dan Moul (R-Adams), Rep. Bryan Barbin (D-Cambria), Rep. Katharine Watson (R-Bucks), Rep. Sheryl Delozier (R-Cumberland), Rep. Marcy Toepel (R-Montgomery), Rep. Bernie O’Neill (R-Bucks) and Rep. Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster).
For more information, visit DPW services and benefit programs for children webpage.
Governors Signs More Bills into Law
Arson Penalties: Senate Bill 1024 (Rafferty-R-Montgomery) providing additional penalties for arson was amended on the House Floor, referred into and out of the House Appropriations Committee and passed by the House. A summary and House Fiscal Note are available. The bill returns to the Senate for a concurrence vote.
Child Abuse: House Bill 726 (Petri-R-Bucks) further providing for a definition of child abuse was concurred in by the House and now goes to the Governor for his action. A summary and House Fiscal Note are available.
Child Abduction: Senate Bill 689 (Corman-R-Centre) providing for the prevention of child abductions was referred to the House Appropriations Committee.
From Crisci Associates PA Capitol Digest
Supreme Court Approves Changes to Appellate Rules
In Re: Order Amending Rule 125 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Appellate Procedure, No. 240 Appellate Procedural Rules Docket