In this update:
House Introduces Articles of Impeachment for Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner
After a thorough investigation of the devastating rise in crime in the city of Philadelphia, House Members have introduced articles of impeachment to remove District Attorney Larry Krasner from office. Krasner’s refusal to prosecute criminals in the city has led to a crisis of lawlessness. Philadelphia tragically had more homicides in 2021 than in any other year in recorded history.
If the articles of impeachment are approved by the House, the Senate will then hold a trial to determine whether District Attorney Krasner should be removed from office.
Empowering Parents in Pennsylvania
I chaired a public hearing of the Senate State Government Committee to review Senate Bill 996, which would establish a parental bill of rights in Pennsylvania. The legislation would make clear in statute that the state, counties, local governments, and school districts may not infringe on the fundamental rights of parents to direct the upbringing, education, health care and mental health of their children without demonstrating that such action is reasonable and necessary to achieve a compelling state interest — narrowly tailored – and not otherwise achieved by less restrictive means.
During the first panel of the hearing, parents presented examples of graphic images in books they found in their children’s schools. Young children should not be exposed to this sort of material without the consent of their parents. You can see blurred examples of this explicit material here.
I discussed my late father’s decades of experience as a school librarian. He never could have imagined some of the explicit materials that are available to very young children in elementary school libraries today.
Senate Approves Measures to Support Police and Crime Victims
Taking further action to stem the rise in violent crime in Pennsylvania, the Senate passed measures to support law enforcement and crime victims.
House Bill 103 seeks to better protect our law enforcement officers against harassment by strengthening penalties against criminals who intentionally spit on or throw bodily fluids at officers.
House Bill 1546 further protects law enforcement officers by prohibiting the release of a public safety official’s home address or telephone number.
While criminal prosecutions punish offenders, restitution for crime victims often falls short. When that happens, victims often turn to the civil justice system.
The Senate passed House Bill 2525 to make it easier for crime victims to obtain relevant information learned by law enforcement during the investigation of the crime. Crime victims can then use that information in civil legal actions to recover damages for their injuries.
In addition, the Senate approved House Bill 140 to help fight rampant crime in Philadelphia. It requires the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate and prosecute crimes committed within its mass transit system.
These efforts build on the work that has been accomplished over the past two years to protect crime victims, prevent human trafficking and strengthen penalties for criminals who seek to elude officers.
How Can We Solve the Labor Shortage in Schuylkill, Carbon, and Luzerne Counties?
Recently, due to successful efforts to bring new jobs to Schuylkill, Luzerne, and Carbon Counties, I’ve been hearing a new concern from local employers: they can’t find enough employees. I joined Senators John Yudichak, Lisa Baker, and Camera Bartolotta at a public hearing discussing how we can solve this problem.
I asked multiple panelists, including Acting Deputy Secretary for Workforce Development Dan Kuba, for their thoughts on how we can solve this labor shortage and improve our economy. They pointed to a variety of solutions, including improving career pipelines in schools, better collaborating with local employers to address their needs, and improving transportation and housing options.
House Democrats Sustain Wolf Veto on Violent Crime
Governor Wolf recently vetoed a bill that would keep violent criminals behind bars for longer if they are convicted of a violent crime while incarcerated. The state House attempted to override his veto, yet fell short of the required two thirds majority by just 2 votes.
The bill was named Markie’s Law in honor of a child who was stabbed 147 times by an ex-con who was released on parole despite committing two assaults while in prison. It received bipartisan, veto-proof support in both the House and the Senate on initial passage, yet 8 Democratic State Representatives who previously supported the bill flipped their position for the veto override vote.
I expect the General Assembly to try to pass this important legislation again next year, when Pennsylvania has a new governor in office.
Defending Employers from Unfair Tax Increases
A provision to protect small employers from unfair tax increases was approved the General Assembly and sent to the governor for his signature.
An employer in Schuylkill County followed all guidance from the state during the COVID-19 pandemic and kept his business closed, and now is facing a tax increase of thousands of dollars. That’s just wrong. I’m thankful Rep. Twardzik and I were able to work together with the Department of Labor and Industry to get this change approved by both the Senate and the House this year.
We learned about this issue during a public hearing of the House Majority Policy Committee hosted by Rep. Twardzik near Pottsville. This hearing was the subject of the most recent edition of my monthly tv program, which you can watch above.
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