Senator Bob Mensch E-Newsletter

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Week of April 8, 2019

In this Update:

  • Senate Adopts Mensch “Crime Victims’ Right Week” Resolution, Passes Package of Bills to Protect Crime Victims
  • Senate Approves Measure to Help Homebound Students
  • Bills Sent to Governor for Enactment into Law
  • Committee Roundup
  • Up Next

Senate Adopts Mensch “Crime Victims’ Right Week” Resolution, Passes Package of Bills to Protect Crime Victims

4/8/19 – Crime Victims’ Rights Week Resolution

The Senate this week unanimously adopted a resolution I sponsored designating the week of April 7 through 13 as Crime Victims’ Rights Week in Pennsylvania.

The chamber followed up by passing a package of bills designed to protect crime victims and ensure they have more opportunities to participate in the judicial process.

The package of bills includes measures to give crime victims more rights to attend criminal trials; expand the rights of individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism to provide testimony; provide hearsay exceptions for statements made by young witnesses of cases of sexual assault; shield rape victims against irrelevant cross examinations; and provide for a bill of rights for sexual assault survivors.

More than three million Americans were victims of violent crime in 2017, with households experiencing an estimated 13.3 million property crimes. The millions of survivors of crime and their families are no less deserving of justice, rights, resources, restoration and rehabilitation than the violent offenders who victimize them.

The package of bills includes:

Senate Bill 399, which creates a comprehensive bill of rights in Pennsylvania for survivors of sexual assault, including rights pertaining to the collection and use of evidence.

Senate Bill 425, which I am co-sponsoring, would amend the Pennsylvania Crime Victims Act to ensure a victim has a right not to be excluded from a trial except in extraordinary circumstances.

Senate Bill 431, which I am co-sponsoring, would prevent many sexual assault survivors from facing questions during cross examination about times they were victimized previously, such as child abuse or assaults.

Senate Bill 469, which would apply the existing Tender Years Exception – which allows certain out-of-court statements to be admissible as evidence – to include individuals with intellectual disabilities or autism.

Senate Bill 479, which I am co-sponsoring, would expand the Tender Years Exception to apply to a wider variety of crimes, including serious sexual offenses. This exception currently only applies in cases of homicide, assault, kidnapping, burglary, robbery, and a narrow number of sexual offenses.

The bills were sent to the House of Representatives for consideration. 

Senate Approves Measure to Help Homebound Students

Students who face an extended absence from school due to injury or illness could continue to participate in classroom activities and learning under a bill approved by the Senate on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 144, which I am co-sponsoring, creates the Keystone Telepresence Education Grant program. It now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

The grant program would help Intermediate Units purchase equipment that will allow homebound students to participate in normal classroom learning, schoolwork and activities remotely through the use of telepresence technology.

The grant program would be administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Funding would come from any undistributed money that is not already committed to other projects, so it would not create a new burden on taxpayers.

Two additional bills approved by the Senate and sent to the House this week.

Senate Bill 372 updates the state History Code.

Senate Bill 441 designates the State Route 2087 bridge over the East Branch Codorus Creek in York County as the Sgt. Christopher M. Wrinkle and Tosca Memorial Bridge.

Bills Sent to Governor for Enactment into Law

House Bill 18 authorizes the release of Project 70 restrictions on lands owned by the Borough of Topton, Berks County, in exchange for the imposition of the restrictions on other lands to be acquired by the borough. The bill also provides for land conveyances in Chester, Lehigh and Monroe counties.

House Bill 264 adds fiscal procedures for the collection of monies by municipal authorities.

Committee Roundup

Appropriations

Senate Bill 133 amends the State Constitution to allow gubernatorial candidates to select their running mate.

Senate Bill 144 creates the Keystone Telepresence Education Grant program.

Senate Bill 145 amends the Agricultural Area Security Law to allow for the voluntary relinquishment of the right to construct a residence.

House Bill 264 adds fiscal procedures for the collection of monies by municipal authorities.

House Bill 275 changes the name of the “Early Intervention Program” under the Municipalities Financial Recovery Act to the “Strategic Management Planning Program.”

Senate Bill 399 provides for a comprehensive bill of rights for survivors of sexual assault.

Senate Bill 469 addresses testimony by those with intellectual disabilities or autism. 

Senate Bill 479 expands the Tender Years Exception for out-of-court statements to include additional serious sexual offenses. 

Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure

Public hearing on Senate Bill 510 (PA Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards & Nuclear Energy). Hearing Video & Written Testimony

Health & Human Services

Senate Bill 390 delays implementation of Medical Assistance Transportation Program pending a Department of Human Services review.

Labor & Industry

Senate Bill 304 protects the unemployment compensation rights of spouses of active duty members of the armed forces.

Senate Bill 453 provides an exemption from the Uniform Construction Code (UCC) for barns and other structures that are occasionally used for weddings or special events if certain requirements are satisfied.

Majority Policy

Public hearing on the future demographics of higher education. Hearing Video & Written Testimony

State Government

Senate Bill 22 amends the state Constitution to create a commission to draw election maps.

Senate Bill 48 delays the impending mass decertification of current voting machines until an appropriate plan between the Governor and the General Assembly and the method by which it will be paid for can be agreed to. 

Senate Bill 178 requires the electronic filing of campaign finance reports with the Department of State.

Transportation

Senate Bill 131 prohibits novice drivers (16 and 17 years old) from using cell phones while driving.

House Bill 384 increases the fine for driving a vehicle without the proper endorsement for that particular type of vehicle.

Up Next

The Senate returns to voting session on Monday, April 29 at 1 p.m. You can watch session live at PASenateGOP.com.

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If you find this e-newsletter useful, I invite you to visit my website www.senatormensch.com for more information about your state government.

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