A blog of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section

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Administrative Governing Board approves higher counsel fees.

Click for Order  AGB approved COUNSEL FEE ORDER

The information below is from Crisci Associates PA Capitol Digest

General Assembly passes State budget and sends it to Governor 

The Senate, House and Governor Wolf reached a bipartisan agreement Thursday on a $31.996 billion General Fund budget– House Bill 218 (Saylor-R-York)– which the Senate (43-7) and House (173-27) passed Friday and sent to the Governor.

The budget includes more money for schools, pension obligations and services, but demands across-the-board cuts state government agencies and in Medicaid.

The General Assembly also agreed to combine the departments of Human Services and Health, but it does not include the departments of Aging and Drug and Alcohol Programs.     They will also combine the Department of Corrections and the Office of Probation and Parole.

But, the spending plan has a $2 billion hole to fill and there is no agreement on how to fill it.  The revenue plan will have to wait until after July 4.  The Senate is likely to come back to session July 5 and House July 6, but both chambers adjourned to the call of the chair.

Governor signs Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Bill

Governor Tom Wolf Thursday signed Senate Bill 8 (Folmer-R-Lebanon) into law as Act 13 of 2017. The bipartisan bill reforms asset forfeitures, which are civil proceedings against property that allow law enforcement to take possession of property of certain persons suspected of crime.

The new law creates significant changes to civil asset forfeiture in Pennsylvania in several key areas, including:

— Higher burdens of proof imposed on the Commonwealth;

— Protection for third-party owners by placing an additional burden of proof on the Commonwealth;

— Improved transparency in auditing and reporting;

— Specific and additional protection in real property cases by prohibiting the pre-forfeiture seizure of real property without a hearing, and;

— An extra level of protection for anyone acquitted of a related crime who is seeking the return of their property.

A Senate Fiscal Note and summary is available.

Senate approves Clean Slate bill to seal criminal records for minor offenses

The Senate Wednesday unanimously approved bipartisan legislation– Senate Bill 529— sponsored by Senator Scott Wagner (R-York) and Senator Anthony Williams (D-Philadelphia) to provide for automatic sealing of criminal records for minor offenses.

Senate Bill 529 would allow for the automatic sealing of low level, non-violent criminal offenses, eliminating the need for individuals to petition the court. This “clean slate” measure and a companion bill– House Bill 1419 (Delozier-R-Cumberland)– are the first of their kind in the nation.

Under the legislation, misdemeanors would be sealed after 10 years of the individual being crime-free and as long as court obligations have been met. Non-convictions would be sealed after 60 days and fulfillment of court obligations.

It also exempts individuals with a sealed record from having to disclose criminal history records. This is often a huge hurdle for individuals attempting to obtain a job or housing.

The bills applies only to non-violent misdemeanors. Offenses that do NOT qualify under Clean Slate include–

— Offenses involving danger to the person;

— Offenses against the family;

— Offenses relating to firearms and other dangerous articles;

— Offenses relating to registration of sexual offenders;

— A violation relating to indecent exposure;

— A violation relating to failure to comply with registration requirements;

— A violation relating to weapons or implements for escape;

— A violation relating to cruelty to animals; and

— A violation relating to corruption of minors.

Senate Bill 529 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Bills moving

House

School Drug Curriculum Update: House Bill 121 (Kaufer-R- Luzerne) updating school curricula on opioid and drug abuse was reported out of the House Appropriations Committee and was passed by the House.  A House Fiscal Noteand summary.  The bill now goes to the Senate for action.

Providing For Further Access To Drug Information: House Bill 1532 (Phillips-Hill-R- York) authorizing Medicaid Managed Care Organizations access to information in the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program to help deal with the opioid crisis (sponsor summary) was reported out of the House Health Committee, referred into and out of the House Rules Committee, amended on the House Floor and referred to the House Appropriations Committee.

Child Protection Hotline: House Bill 1232 (Murt-R-Adams) providing for a statewide toll-free telephone line for child protective services was reported out of the House Rules Committee, amended on the House Floor and referred to the House Appropriations Committee.

Driver Substance Abuse: Senate Bill 553 (Rafferty-R-Montgomery) further providing for drivers license loss due to substance abuse was amended and reported out of the House Transportation Committee and is now on the House Calendar for action.

Senate

Body Cameras: Senate Bill 560 (Greenleaf-R- Montgomery) use of police body cameras on concurrence (House Fiscal Note and summary) was concurred in by the Senate and now goes to the Governor for his action.

Criminal Record Expungement: Senate Bill 529 (Wagner-R-York) further providing for the expungement of criminal offenses was passed by the Senate.  A Senate Fiscal Note and summary is available.  The bill now goes to the House for action.

Drug Delivery Penalties: Senate Bill 662 ( Bartolotta-R-Washington) further providing penalties for injuries during drug delivery was amended on the Senate Floor and was passed by the Senate.  The bill now goes to the House for action.

DNA Testing: Senate Bill 461 (Killion-R-Delaware) expanding DNA testing was amended on the Senate Floor and was passed by the Senate.  The bill now goes to the House for action.

Sex Offender Probation: House Bill 631 (Marsico-R-Dauphin) probation tail for sex offenders was reported from the Senate Judiciary Committee and is now on the Senate Calendar for action.

Bail Money Forfeiture: House Bill 280 (Delozier-R-Cumberland) provides for forfeiture and allocation of bail monies (House Fiscal Note and summary) was reported from the Senate Judiciary Committee and is now on the Senate Calendar for action.

Collection Of Restitution: House Bill 234 (Costa-D-Allegheny) further providing for the collection of restitution (House Fiscal Note and summary) was reported from the Senate Judiciary Committee and is now on the Senate Calendar for action.

Criminal Restitution: House Bill 285 (Stephens-R-Montgomery) further providing for restitution by criminals to victims was amended and reported from the Senate Judiciary Committee and is now on the Senate Calendar for action.

On the Governor’s desk

Body Cameras: Senate Bill 560 (Greenleaf-R- Montgomery) use of police body cameras on concurrence (House Fiscal Note and summary).

Stolen Valor: House Bill 168 (Saccone-R-Allegheny) Stolen Military Valor Act (House Fiscal Note and summary).  The bill was signed into law as Act 9.

Animal Abuse: House Bill 1238 (Stephens-R-Montgomery) Animal Abuse Statute overhaul (House Fiscal Note and summary).  The bill was signed into law as Act 10.

Child Endangerment: House Bill 217 (Kauffman-R-Franklin) further providing penalties for child endangerment (House Fiscal Note and summary).  The bill was signed into law as Act 12.

Civil Asset Forfeiture: Senate Bill 8 (Folmer-R-Lebanon) civil asset forfeiture reform (Senate Fiscal Note and summary).  The bill was signed into law as Act 13.

Session schedule

The Senate may meet on July 5 and the House may meet on July 6.

 
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