The Senate unanimously approved House Bill 631 which makes changes to registration, reporting and counseling requirements for sex offenders. The legislation also requires courts to impose a three-year probation period to any offenders convicted of a Tier 3 sex offense.
In 2017 the state Supreme Court ruled the Sexual Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) unconstitutional because it violated protections against ex post facto laws. House Bill 631 aims to eliminate gaps in reporting requirements for sexual offenders whose prior requirements were invalidated. The legislation also responds to the ruling by making some provisions less punitive, including:
- Allowing for an offender to petition for exemption from registration requirements after 25 years; and
- Permitting an offender who has not, within a three-year period, been convicted of an offense punishable by imprisonment of more than one year, to register annually by telephone.
The measure applies to offenders who committed their offense on or after April 22, 1996, but before December 20, 2012, and whose registration period has not expired. This is in direct response to the court’s decision and will only include offenders whose registration period has not yet begun due to incarceration or because the offender absconded. Other changes to the previously invalidated statue include:
- Removing a conviction for interference with custody of children as a specified offense if the offender is a parent, guardian or lawful custodian
- Limiting the number of residents in a group-based home to no more than five individuals who are subject to sexual offender registration
This bill became Act 10 of 2018.
The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 21 which would create the “Employment First Act” to promote employment of Pennsylvanians with disabilities through publicly funded education, training and employment services.
The legislation would also establish an “Employment First Oversight Commission” as well as the “Governor’s Cabinet for People with Disabilities” to review state agency policies and regulations.
This bill was referred to the House Labor and Industry committee on Feb. 8, 2018.
The Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 354 which requires any licensee regulated by the state Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs to self-report a disciplinary action taken against a them by a licensing agency of another jurisdiction.
Written notification must be provided within 30 days.
A licensing board or commission may suspend the license temporarily to determine if the licensee is an immediate and clear danger to public health and safety. Within 30 days of a temporary suspension a hearing must be held to determine if the suspension should be upheld.
This legislation allows the commissioner of the bureau to expunge the disciplinary record of a licensee if the violation involves the failure to complete continuing education requirements or practicing on a lapsed license under the appropriate conditions.
This bill became Act 6 of 2018.
The Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 796, which would exempt persons with commercial driver’s licenses from change-of-address fees if they relocated due to governmental action beyond their control.
This bill was referred to the House Transportation committee on February 8th.
The Senate unanimously approved of Senate Bill 955, which would establish the Community College Secondary Education Fire Training pilot program to train high school students to be firefighters through a program run by a partnership between community colleges, school districts and vocational-technical schools.
The state Fire Commissioner would select the participating colleges. Those schools would receive at least $150,000 for the duration of the program. The Legislative Budget and Finance Committee would make recommendations and conduct surveys to determine if the program is helping to increasing the number of volunteer firefighters.
The program would expire four years from its effective date. This bill was referred to the House Education committee on Feb. 8.