State Capitol Roundup
2/17/2012

Benninghoff Introduces Child Sex Abuse Bill

 

Rep. Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin) this week introduced a bill in the state House aimed at stopping child sex abuse and empowering employees to report the suspected sexual abuse of children directly to authorities.  Under current Pennsylvania law, employees at certain employers are required to report suspected child abuse to their bosses, who are then responsible for reporting the incident to authorities.  When these employees report suspected child abuse to their bosses, the employers are prevented by law to retaliate against the workers who reported the incident.  There is currently nothing specifically in law to protect employees who also choose to report the suspected child abuse directly to the authorities.  Benninghoff’s bill would fix that by protecting employees against retaliation by their employers if the workers choose to report suspected child abuse directly to the proper authorities.

 

House Committee Hearing Addresses

Benninghoff Debt Transparency Bill

 

The House State Government Committee this week held an informational meeting where members listened to testimony about several bills, including one introduced by Rep. Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin) that would provide Pennsylvanians with more accurate and understandable information when they vote to approve or reject proposals to incur additional state government debt.  Under Benninghoff’s House Bill 357, the state treasurer would be required to prepare a detailed description of the project that may be funded by the debt, the total costs for the project and the anticipated interest costs over the term of the debt.  The state treasurer’s fiscal note would be submitted to the secretary of the Commonwealth, who would certify it for the county boards of elections, which would be required to publish the information as part of the public notice of elections advertisement.  Local boards of elections also would be required to post three copies of the detailed description near voting locations.


Legislation Would Increase Penalties

for Willful Unemployment Compensation Fraud

 

The House Labor and Industry Committee unanimously voted to send to the House this week a bill to increase penalties for willful unemployment compensation fraud.  House Bill 1852 would increase the penalty period for individuals who commit unemployment compensation fraud from two weeks to 10 weeks and would remove the current four-year limit on the imposition of these penalty weeks.  The bill would add a 15 percent penalty to the total owed to the fund for a fraudulent claim and create a 52-week penalty for individuals who commit willful fraud to collect benefits while in prison.  It is estimated the proposal will save the Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund $15 million to $20 million annually.  Pennsylvania’s rate of fraudulent unemployment claims is more than 5 percent, exceeding the national average.

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