State Capitol Roundup

Child Protection Bills Approved by House

Acting on the recommendations of the Task Force on Child Protection, the House approved several important measures this week.  House Bill 316 would create a sustainable funding stream for Child Advocacy Centers (CACs) across Pennsylvania through a $15 fee assessed on all defendants found guilty of a crime in Pennsylvania.  A CAC offers treatment programs designed to help abused children by bringing together doctors, nurses, prosecutors, social workers and law enforcement together in one location.  House Bill 328 would require courts to have a complete record regarding whether a child subject to a Protection From Abuse (PFA) proceeding has been abused or is the subject of a child abuse investigation.  The bill would require a plaintiff in a PFA case to notify the courts if he or she has knowledge of a child abuse investigation so it can be known if the PFA issued may have a legal impact on the defendant in the realm of child abuse.  House Bill 404 would create the crimes of intimidation and retaliation against a witness, victim or reporter of child abuse.  The bill would make it a crime for a person who intends to obstruct an investigation or prosecution of a child abuse case to intimidate a witness, victim or reporter from such things as making a report, appearing before a tribunal, providing information, or cooperating by providing information in an investigation or prosecution.  House Bill 350 would enhance penalties for adults who physically attack and/or harm minors.  House Bill 414 would require courts in custody proceedings to consider whether a child has been identified as a victim of child abuse by a person seeking custody or member of that person’s household. 

Education Committee Passes School Safety
 and Special Education Funding Bills

Members of the House Education Committee passed three measures aimed at increasing student safety and better allocating funding for special education.  House Resolution 53 would authorize the formation of a select committee to investigate, review and make recommendations regarding safety and security in public and nonpublic schools and institutions of higher education in Pennsylvania.  House Bill 555 would require all public schools to include the Megan’s Law website on any transportation-related communication distributed to students, parents and the public, as well as posting the website on schools’ homepages in an effort to offer parents and families information about safe bus and walking routes.  House Bill 2 would create a Special Education Funding Commission to develop a new special education funding formula that better reflects the actual special education populations in Pennsylvania school districts.  All of the measures are before the full House for consideration. 

House Scholarship Program Applications Now Available 

High school seniors can now apply for a Pennsylvania House of Representatives Scholarship to help cover the costs of higher education.  Each year, two students preparing for post-secondary education are awarded four-year scholarships.  The program is privately funded by individual and corporate donors.  No tax or other public funds are used.  The program is open to graduating high school seniors who are Pennsylvania residents with plans to attend a Pennsylvania college, university or career school as a full-time student.  Students must have attained a minimum 3.0 cumulative grade point average in high school in order to be eligible for the scholarship.  A student’s commitment to community, leadership qualities, extracurricular activities and financial need are also taken into consideration.  The scholarship program is administered through the Foundation for Enhancing Communities.  To apply, interested students should visit Rep. Kerry Benninghoff’s (R-Centre/Mifflin) website at and click on House Scholarship Information.  The application deadline is March 1.  Scholarships are awarded through an independent panel of judges chosen by the foundation.

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