Measures passed include Statute of Limitations Reform for Child Sexual Abuse, Establishing the Drug Recognition Training Fund & Consolidation of the Department of Corrections and the Board of Probation and Parole
(HARRISBURG) – The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Senator Lisa Baker (R-20), met today to consider three bills, including legislation to support victims of child sexual abuse, further address drug related DUI incidents, and merge the Board of Probation and Parole within the Department of Corrections.
House Bill 14, introduced by Representative Gregory, amends Article I, Section 11 of the Pennsylvania Constitution by creating a two-year period in which victims of childhood sexual abuse may bring a civil lawsuit, in cases where the statute of limitations period for their claims has already expired. This legislation was amended to change the measure to an emergency constitutional amendment in order for it to be presented to voters this May, and to clarify that victims are able to be hold both public and private institutions accountable for abuse. The amendment and bill as amended received bi-partisan support and passed by a vote of 10-4.
“While so many of us were distraught to learn of the Wolf Administration’s colossal failure to advertise the original constitutional amendment last session as was required by law, I don’t know that any one of us can truly understand the pain that victims have felt learning that the conclusion they were anticipating would not be achieved as planned,” Senator Baker said. “I believe that given what took place, it is vital that we work together to pass House Bill 14 as an emergency constitutional amendment, to help give victims timely access to the justice they so greatly deserve.”
Senate Bill 137, sponsored by Senator Hutchinson, amends Title 42 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes by adding a new section to establish the Drug Recognition Expert Training Fund. Money in the Fund will be appropriated to the Pennsylvania State Police and used to train law enforcement in drug recognition. This type of education includes training of law enforcement to detect if an individual is under the influence of alcohol, drugs, narcotics, controlled substances or other impairing substances. In addition to any other costs imposed for driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance, a convicted individual will be assessed $5 which will be deposited into the Fund by the State Treasurer. SB 137 was unanimously passed by the committee.
“In my district, we recently saw the benefits of a drug recognition expert, who helped to determine that a vehicle crash that occurred in the middle of the day, was caused by an individual under the influence of drugs,” Senator Baker explained. “These experts have an important skillset, which can go a long way to address drug related DUI incidents, and this bill will help to expand their availability.”
Senate Bill 411, introduced by Senator Browne, amends Title 42 and Title 61 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes to transfer to the Department of Corrections, the offender supervision and certain administrative functions, currently performed by the Board of Probation and Parole as well certain functions, duties and powers of the Board of Pardons. SB 411 was unanimously passed by the committee.
“This legislation will help to reduce the costs associated with the Board of Probation and Parole, while also taking necessary steps to ensure they remain independent in their decision making responsibilities,” Senator Baker said.
The bills now advance to the full Senate for consideration.
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