In This Update:
Senate Judiciary Committee Advances Legislation to Provide Justice for Child Abuse Victims
The Senate Judiciary Committee recently passed House Bill 951, sponsored by Rep. Mark Rozzi (D-126), which amends the Judicial Code to provide a two-year window during which civil lawsuits arising out of childhood sexual abuse may be brought. The legislation also explicitly states that public entities that are sued cannot use the defenses of sovereign and governmental immunity, nor are they shielded by laws that limit damages that may be awarded. House Bill 951, as amended, was passed out of committee by a vote of 11 to 3.
The brave men and women who have endured years of struggling and challenges deserve access to justice. Abuse victims have been denied a fair remedy for far too long, and I believe we are obligated to attempt every avenue to deliver a just result. The amendment that I offered to House Bill 951 bolstered the protections in the bill and provided equal responsibility for private and public entities. Abuse by an official or worker in a public position is no less horrific and harmful than when it occurs in a private setting. It is no longer a justice system if victims are denied rights and remedies because of budgetary concerns. When all is said and done, I intend to be able to look victims in the eye and look at myself in the mirror of my conscience. I remain hopeful that this important legislation will receive consideration by the full Senate in the near future.
Senators Call on Governor to Halt Unilateral Action on Carbon Tax
The letter notes that the governor’s effort to force Pennsylvania to join the multi-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) without the input of the legislature is a clear violation of the checks and balances provided by the Pennsylvania Constitution.
Hearings Examining Governor’s Budget Proposal Conclude
The Senate Appropriations Committee completed a series of 21 public hearings that closely examined the details of Governor Wolf’s state budget proposal.
The comprehensive review of the Governor’s proposed $40.2 billion General Fund Budget for Fiscal Year 2021-22, which includes a massive increase in state spending, a substantial personal income tax rate hike, imposition of Marcellus Shale extraction tax, and elimination of funding for broadband expansion and vital agricultural and health programs.
The complete coverage of the hearings can be found here.
Senate Votes to Extend Program Helping Schools Find Substitute Teachers
Lawmakers created a program in 2016 that allowed individuals training to be teachers to serve as a substitute teacher, provided the individual has valid clearances and at least 60 credit hours. However, the program is set to expire on June 30.
The legislation approved this week would make this temporary program permanent. As a result, schools, intermediate units and career and technical schools can ensure qualified substitutes are available to meet the needs of students.
Protecting the First Amendment Rights of Teachers
The Senate approved a critical bill this week to ensure the First Amendment rights of teachers are better protected. The legislation would repeal a provision of the School Code which prohibits teachers from wearing any garb, mark, emblem or insignia that would indicate they are a member of or adherent to any religious order or sect while in the performance of their duties as a teacher.
Although federal courts have held that the school’s religious affiliations policy violates the free exercise of religion and free speech clauses of the Constitution, these provisions are still in place and public school directors can be held criminally liable for failing to enforce this prohibition. Pennsylvania is the last state in the United States with this provision still in place.
Comments on 2020 General Election Due by Friday, April 30
This is the final week for Pennsylvanians to share their experience from last year’s election with the Senate Special Committee on Election Integrity and Reform.
This is the final week for Pennsylvanians to share their experience from last year’s election with the Senate Special Committee on Election Integrity and Reform. Election surveys for Pennsylvanians who voted by mail or in person will be accepted through Friday, April 30.
The committee is expected to use the survey responses and testimony gathered during its series of public hearings to produce a report with recommendations that will be presented to the General Assembly for action.
If you do not wish to receive this email, click here to unsubscribe.