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Kids Expo Draws Large Turnout
I'd like to thank all of you who attended my recent Kid's Expo at the McCaskey East School Gymnasium in Lancaster. We had a great turnout of kids and parents, as well as more than 30 exhibitors who were on hand to answer questions, provide information and showcase various services available to folks in my district.
It was a fun day for kids and a great one-stop resource for lots of valuable information.
Senate Again Rejects National ID Card Program
With questions about its impact on personal privacy and its financial burden on taxpayers, the Senate acted on Tuesday to exempt Pennsylvania from compliance with the unfunded mandate of a national identification card (REAL ID).
Senate Bill 354, which received unanimous approval from the Senate, now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
The federal REAL ID Act passed by Congress in 2005 mandates that states turn driver's licenses into a national identification card. REAL ID also requires states to share motor vehicle databases, which will in effect, create a single, national database. There are serious concerns that personal information in such a database could not be kept confidential.
In addition to creating numerous potential privacy issues, the REAL ID measure also imposes a significant burden on Pennsylvania taxpayers. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, it's estimated that the Commonwealth would incur start-up costs of $141 million over nine fiscal years and annual operational costs of $39 million, with no assistance from the federal government.
We passed this bill during last session, but the House of Representatives failed to act on the measure before the end of the year. If enacted this session, Pennsylvania would join 15 states -- including South Carolina, New Hampshire, Maine, Montana, and Virginia -- that have already enacted statutes precluding their compliance with the REAL ID Act.
Criminal Justice Reform, Cyberbullying Bills Sent to the House
The Senate approved three bills this week that address various aspects of Pennsylvania's justice system.
Senate Bill 100, which received unanimous approval on Tuesday, is intended to address prison overcrowding, recidivism, and reduce the high costs of incarceration. The bill would:
We also approved a bill that would establish a pretrial procedure to determine if a defendant in a capital penalty trial is a person with mental retardation. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that applying the death penalty to persons with mental retardation is unconstitutional.
Under Senate Bill 397, counsel for a defendant in a capital case can request a hearing prior to trial to determine if the defendant is not eligible for the death penalty due to mental retardation. The burden of proof would be on the defendant. If the trial judge finds for the defense, the trial would proceed as a noncapital trial.
We also approved Senate Bill 850, a measure that establishes the criminal offense of "cyberbullying and sexting by minors" and grades the offense as a misdemeanor of the third degree. The bill also provides for the expungement of juvenile records and makes numerous changes to the Juvenile Act in order to protect children involved in cases before a Magisterial District Judge or involved in juvenile court proceedings.
Senate Approves State Action for Harrisburg
With Harrisburg mired in a fiscal disaster, the Senate passed legislation this week that will allow the state to take direct action to rescue the financially distressed city.
Senate Bill 1151, which was signed into law as Act 79, will enable the Governor to declare a state of fiscal emergency in Harrisburg, which is triggered by the city's inability to meet its financial obligations and failure to adopt a financial recovery plan under Act 47. Once the emergency is declared, the Governor may petition Commonwealth Court to appoint a receiver for the city.
Once appointed, the receiver would have the ability to create a long-term recovery plan for the city and implement the plan as needed. SB 1151 would also include an advisory panel responsible for providing feedback to the receiver.
This week, the a joint hearing of four
Senate and House committees was held in Harrisburg to consider ways to fix the
existing Act 47 law, which is designed to help all of Pennsylvania's
financially-troubled cities. Local government experts said more cities across
the commonwealth will find themselves in fiscal trouble and the state's Act 47
program needs to change if it's going to help You can watch by clicking here
Watch - 2:32 |
Watch - 1:52