State Capitol ROUNDUP

House Passes Measure to Address Statewide Human Trafficking

The House recently approved a measure to offer Pennsylvania’s criminal justice system better tools to hold human sex traffickers accountable to the law.  House Bill 663 would increase the penalties for those who traffic minors from a third-degree felony to a first-degree felony and would make it clear that the penalties apply to trafficking a minor whether or not the perpetrator knew the victim was under the age of 18.  In addition, the bill also would charge a parent who sells or trades his or her child knowing the child will be forced into commercial sex as a result with a second-degree felony.  The bill would define commercial sex to include any sexual activity in which anything of value is given to or received by another person where the activity is induced by force, fraud or expressed or implied coercion, regardless of the age of the victim.  Trafficking charges would apply even if there was no proof of coercion.  If enacted, the bill would give victims the right to sue for damages and attorney’s fees against someone who coerced him or her into or to remain in prostitution or to collect or receive any part of the victim’s earnings from prostitution.  The measure now heads to the Senate for consideration.

House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee Holds Meeting on Nuclear Safety

Members of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee held an informational meeting in Harrisburg this week to discuss nuclear power plant safety and security.  The committee heard from representatives of Exelon, FirstEnergy and PPL on the security and stability of the Commonwealth’s five nuclear power plants.  The representatives also highlighted efforts in partnering with local emergency response services to develop emergency response plans.

House Education Committee Examines Legislation on School Bullying

The House Education Committee recently held a hearing on legislation aimed at protecting students who are the targets of school bullies.  House Bill 156, the Pennsylvania Safe Schools (PASS) Act, would require all teachers to undergo a bullying prevention training program every five years and also require acts of bullying be reported to the state.  Pennsylvania is currently ranked by the U.S. Department of Education as having one of the most insufficient anti-bullying laws in the nation. 

House Tourism Committee Visits Gettysburg to Preview Events for 150th Celebration

Members of the House Tourism and Recreational Development Committee recently traveled to Gettysburg to get a glimpse of the events planned for the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg this summer.  The committee toured Schmucker Hall at the Lutheran Theological Seminary, which is now home to the Seminary Ridge Museum scheduled to open its doors on July 1.  The cupola at the top of Schmucker Hall provided Union General John Buford with a clear vantage point when he served as lookout on the first day of the historic battle.  Organizers expect more than four million visitors to the Gettysburg region this year and an estimated $2 billion in generated revenue to the Commonwealth as a result.  For more information on events commemorating the 150th anniversary, visit Rep. Kerry Benninghoff’s (R-Centre/Mifflin) website at
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