Baker: Senate Judiciary Committee Approved Bills Focused on Protecting Pennsylvanians

HARRISBURG – The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced six bills today focused on protecting Pennsylvanians, according to the committee’s chair, Sen. Lisa Baker (R-20).

“The approved legislation will contribute to making Pennsylvania a safer and more secure place to live, ensuring the protection of residents and upholding the integrity of the state’s legal and justice systems,” Baker said. “Criminal law and the pursuit of justice are never entirely fixed items. We continually find places where an emerging loophole in law is exploited to create new victims. The same is true for advances in technology, such as artificial intelligence, where bad actors find ways to misuse it for purposes that damage lives. These bills are worthy examples of the diligence lawmakers are undertaking to solve real and concerning problems.”

The first three measures – which passed the committee with a unanimous bi-partisan vote – are aimed at protecting one of our most vulnerable populations by addressing issues related to child pornography generated through artificial intelligence. Despite its relative infancy, state and local prosecutors across the commonwealth have encountered sexual predators using this technology to generate images of children being sexual abused. These materials are nearly indistinguishable from the real thing. Because the current statute does not prohibit materials that are artificially generated, prosecuting child predators has become more difficult than ever. The changes will also apply to those who use technology to create and disseminate sexually explicit images.  

  • Senate Bill 186 and Senate Bill 187 – Replaces the term “child pornography” with “child sexual abuse material,” more accurately reflecting the true nature of the crime.
  • Senate Bill 1213 – Prohibits AI-generated child pornography and other AI-generated sexually explicit images.

Legislation to help homeowners and landlords retain control of their property was also approved. Recent headlines have brought light to an alarming trend in which squatters, who do not have permission from the homeowner, take over property and change the locks, forcing costly and lengthy legal battles. Although these cases are far more prevalent in other states where squatters are considered “tenants” under the laws, this bill makes it clear that in Pennsylvania, a person who does not have permission from the owner is not a “tenant” and therefore, not entitled to formal eviction procedures.

  • Senate Bill 1236 – Amends the Landlord Tenant Act to codify the common law definition of “tenant” and clarify that individuals possessing real property without the owner’s consent are not entitled to the rights and procedures established in the act.

The committee also voted to establish a Directed Trust Act for Pennsylvania and conduct a study on veterans’ experiences in the criminal justice system.

  • Senate Bill 1231 – Updates the legal definitions and rules relating to trusts and directed trusts, based on a recommendation from 2021 Report by Joint State Government Commission Advisory Committee on Decedents’ Estates Law.  
  • Senate Resolution 196 – Directs the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing to conduct a study on the correlation of veterans who have experienced post-traumatic stress disorder, post-traumatic stress injury, military sexual trauma and traumatic brain injury and who have also been involved in the criminal justice system.

The bills are part of the Senate Republican effort to improve community safety across Pennsylvania and will now move to the full Senate for consideration.

Cara Laudenslager

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