State Capitol Roundup
6/14/2013

House Approves Bill to Protect Crime Victims

A bill to give crime victims a voice during the parole process of an inmate is now on the governor’s desk.  House Bill 492 would change the Crime Victims’ Act to allow a victim or victim representative to appear personally before the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole and provide testimony in connection with an inmate’s application for parole.  The bill would make it clear that the decision of victims or their representatives to appear and be heard by the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole is up to them, not the board.  Additionally, the bill would allow victims or their representatives to appear by any electronic means made available by the board, such as video conference, if they elect to do so.  If signed by the governor, the law would take effect Sept. 1.

House Children and Youth Committee Endorses Bills to Protect Children

The House Children and Youth Committee this week advanced a package of bills aimed at strengthening and enhancing laws pertaining to child abuse.  The keystone of the package is House Bill 726, which would expand and enhance the definition of child abuse in the state’s Child Protection Services Law.  The bill would lower the injury threshold to mirror simple assault, expand the ability to substantiate serious emotional abuse, includes grooming activities, broaden serious physical neglect and expand the definition of perpetrator.  Other bills in the package include:
  • House Bill 430, which would establish procedures for reporting suspected child abuse through advanced communication technology in an effort to improve the ability of reports to be made in a timely manner and made available to the proper investigative authorities.
  • House Bill 433, which would establish additional safeguards and due process with respect to the outcome of a child abuse investigation.
  • House Bill 434, which would remove the separate standards and procedures that exist for school employees accused of abusing a student and hold them to the same standards as parents, child care workers, and other perpetrators of child abuse.
  • House Bill 435, which would enhance background clearance requirements for those who work with children or volunteer in a role where they supervise children.
  • House Bill 436, which would expand the list of mandated reporters of suspected child abuse, clarify a mandated reporter’s basis to report child abuse and enhance penalties for the failure to report.

This package is in addition to numerous other bills that have already passed the House.

A Day to Salute the Flag

Friday, June 14, commemorates the adoption of the United States flag.  Since 1916, this date has been marked as “Flag Day.”  From 13 stars to 50, the American flag has been a symbol of freedom and liberty throughout the world.  For facts about the American Flag, visit www.usa-flag-site.org/history.shtml.
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