Statute Of Limitations Reform
Sen. Baker and other elected officials joined the governor as he signed House Bills 962, 1171 and 1051 into law during a ceremony at Muhlenberg High School in Reading. The bills help victims of sexual abuse cases and address the recommendations of a grand jury investigation that was released to the public last year.
A comprehensive package of bills to support survivors of sexual abuse, including legislation to reform the statute of limitations to give survivors more time to come forward, was signed by the governor this week.
The new laws address the recommendations of a grand jury investigation that was released to the public last year. They are designed to ensure victims are supported and all perpetrators of sexual crimes against children are held responsible for their heinous actions.
The bills signed into law include:
In the next legislative session, we will have a responsibility to give swift second round approval to a proposed constitutional amendment, so it can be put before voters on the 2021 ballot.
These actions are a culmination of a years-long effort to create effective and permanent laws to ensure perpetrators of sexual offenses against young people are held accountable by the legal system.
To read and watch my comments on the legislation, please click here.
Pennsylvania Working To Boost Rural Health
Hospitals exist to save lives, but legislation approved recently is aimed at increasing community health outreach and improving the sustainability of rural hospitals. Rep. Tina Pickett and I were proud to lead the effort to gain support in the legislature.
Sustaining and expanding health care is essential for the future of small communities and rural areas. This rural health initiative is a well-constructed plan, and we now have the legal and financial pieces in place to allow it to work.
For the last several years, Pennsylvania has been collaborating with the federal government on a program to increase access to high-quality care in rural communities. As the first of its kind in the United States, this innovative approach seeks to help participating hospitals remain financially healthy through more predictable payment plans and fixed budgets. It also helps providers expand community health services and programs to address needs like behavioral health and substance abuse treatment.
Administrators from the three local hospitals that have already been successfully participating in the pilot were glad to hear the news, as the continued pressures of providing high quality, low cost healthcare is putting many rural hospitals in jeopardy of closure. Those hospitals are: Barnes-Kasson County Hospital in Susquehanna Depot; Endless Mountains Health Systems, Inc. in Montrose; and Wayne Memorial Hospital in Honesdale.
Landmark Election Reforms To Take Effect Next Year
Landmark legislation, now Act 77 of 2019, will fundamentally change how Pennsylvanians are able to vote.
This major election reform measure, which I supported, will:
One component of this package was the result of a suggestion by my neighbor, Joyce Coolbaugh, a quadriplegic frustrated by the process. Every four years she was asked to recertify her disability, despite the fact that her health status had not changed. Because of her advocacy this requirement has been removed, ensuring those on the permanently disabled absentee ballot list are not disenfranchised.
New Law Restricts Robocalls in Pennsylvania
A bill that would limit the amount of nuisance robocalls that Pennsylvania residents receive has been signed into law. Act 73 of 2019, will allow state residents to remain on the do-not-call list on a permanent basis instead of having to renew their listing every five years.
The new law also prohibits telemarketing on legal holidays and provides new options for consumers to opt-out of receiving future calls from businesses. Consumers can verify whether their number is included on the do-not-call list and learn more about how to eliminate nuisance calls at the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s website here.
Pennsylvania Commission on Legislative Conduct Would Investigate Misconduct
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved legislation I am advancing to establish a legislative review board that would probe accusations of harassment and misconduct, as well as public corruption.
SB 809 would create the Pennsylvania Commission on Legislative Conduct, under the Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board, where legislators, third-party experts and lay people would investigate misconduct complaints and offer a determination of their credibility. If the board found an allegation credible, it would launch an investigation and send its findings and recommendations back to the House and Senate to render any discipline.
The proposal comes at a time that multiple legislators have been accused on inappropriate conduct. Because of increasing revelations of abuse, harassment, and other forms of wrongdoing, private and public institutions and entities have been forced to upgrade their policies and strengthen investigatory practices. The Pennsylvania General Assembly is no exception to the imperative for reform.
Because the House and Senate have different rules, this commission would make things equitable across the board. It also shows the public that policing themselves behind closed doors is no longer acceptable.
If we are serious about restoring public trust, this is the kind of substantial reform step we need to take to begin earning it back.
The holiday season is a time for appreciation and charity. While you contemplate what makes you thankful, please take a moment to also consider helping those in need.