“Athletics are a wonderful way for students to learn important teamwork skills and to have fun. Parents have a right to feel secure in knowing that their children are safe when participating in sports and that child predators are not able to use athletics as a way to harm children.”
Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) on passage of legislation targeting athletic coaches, trainers or other sports officials who sexually assault a child-athlete.
Senate Convenes Monday at 1 p.m.
The Senate Appropriations Committee, chaired by Sen. Jake Corman (R-Centre), meets to consider several bills, including Senate Bill 324, sponsored by Sen. Elder Vogel (R-Beaver), reducing the size of the General Assembly, and House Bill 790, liquor sales reform. (Mon., Off the Floor)
The Senate Transportation Committee, chaired by Sen. John Rafferty (R-Montgomery), will hold a public hearing on vehicle accident emergency response by State Police, PennDOT and the Turnpike Commission. (Tues., 9 a.m., Room 8E-B)
The Senate Law and Justice Committee, chaired by Sen. Chuck McIlhinney (R-Bucks), will hold a public hearing on an amendment to Senate Bill 1182, the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act, sponsored by Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon). (Tues., 10 a.m., N. Office Bldg. Room 1)
The Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee, chaired by Sen. David Argall (R-Schuylkill), will hold a public hearing on the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund. (Wed., 9:30 a.m., N. Office Bldg., Room 1)
Senate Passes Legislation to Further Protect Children
The Senate on Wednesday approved legislation to further protect Pennsylvania children from sexual abuse and impose a mandatory minimum sentence for murder of a child.
House Bill 112 was passed by the full Senate by a vote of 45 to 1. The amended bill was sent back to the House of Representatives for concurrence.
The legislation would establish specific guidelines to punish athletic coaches, trainers or other sports officials who sexually assault a child-athlete. The bill also creates the offense of “sexual assault by a sports official,” which would be graded as a third-degree felony. The crime of Sexual Assault by Sports Official is modeled after the Institutional Sexual Assault statute, which covers youth detention center employees.
For more on House Bill 112 and legislation enacted to protect children, please see In the Spotlight and Fast Facts, below.
Senate Passes McIlhinney Bill to Improve Construction Code Review
The Senate approved legislation Tuesday that would improve the review process for potential changes to the state’s Uniform Construction Code.
Every three years, the International Code Council (ICC) offers hundreds of recommendations to government agencies for prospective improvements to construction codes. The Review and Advisory Council (RAC) in the Department of Labor and Industry is responsible for reviewing ICC recommendations.
Senate Bill 1023, sponsored by Sen. Chuck McIlhinney (R-Bucks), would increase the amount of time the RAC is given to submit a report to the Secretary of Labor and Industry from 12 months to 24 months after the publication of the latest ICC recommendations. The bill would also increase membership on the council to include an architect or engineer with expertise in energy efficiency. Senate Bill 1023 was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senator McIlhinney: “In 2009, the ICC offered hundreds of suggested changes to the Uniform Construction Code, and every one of them was approved by RAC. In 2012, the ICC again offered hundreds of suggestions, and the RAC voted against every one of them. It is highly unlikely that every change suggested in 2009 was a good idea, but every suggestion offered in 2012 was a bad idea. Increasing the amount of time available to analyze the ICC’s recommendations will lead to a better and more thorough review process.”
Hearing Explores Status, Future of Pennsylvania Gaming
The Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee , chaired by Sen. Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland), discussed the status of gaming in Pennsylvania and the potential for growth during a public hearing Tuesday.
The hearing included an overview of the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee report titled “The Current Condition and Future Viability of Casino Gaming in Pennsylvania,” and touched on a range of issues including the potential impact of new revenue sources such as iGaming, nongaming amenities and the regulatory landscape.
Hearing Video & Testimony
In addition to increasing penalties for crimes against child-athletes, House Bill 112 includes an amendment sponsored by Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) to set a minimum of 15 years in prison for murder of a child who is under the age of 13.
Scarnati noted that mandatory minimum sentences are not always appropriate in Pennsylvania’s judicial system, however, it is needed in this instance as there is currently no mandatory minimum sentence for someone convicted of a third-degree murder of a child.
Senator Scarnati: “It has become apparent that our Commonwealth must do more to make certain that child murderers are not given lenient sentences. Sentences like the recent and appalling decision of only 6-to-12 years in prison handed down by Philadelphia Judge Benjamin Lerner to an individual who was convicted of murdering multiple newborn babies while employed at Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s abortion clinic cannot continue.”
New Child Protection Laws Enacted 2013-14