Senate Democratic Wrap-up for the Week of January 24, 2016

 

The Senate voted 43-6 in favor of House Bill 153, which would reduce the size of the House of Representatives from 203 members to 151 members.

To change the size of the legislature, a constitutional amendment must pass through both the Senate and the House of Representatives in two consecutive sessions – then go before Pennsylvanian voters. Voters would be able to vote on the amendment at the first primary, general or municipal election that occurs at least three months following passage by the General Assembly.

Proponents of this change argue that the size of the legislature is too large and should be reduced to be more efficient. Opponents claim reducing the size would not reduce costs and result in larger districts that require more legislative staff to cover.  Opponents also argue that legislators would not be able to adequately advocate for their larger distracts.

Similar legislation has been proposed over the years to reduce the number of members. One example of a similar measure is HB 1234 from the 2013-14 session which was approved by the House with a vote of 148-50, but was tabled in the Senate.  Legislation has been proposed to reduce the size of the Senate as well.

The bill was signed in the House.

 

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The Senate unanimously approved House Bill 1201, which would authorize the Department of Highways and counties, cities, boroughs, towns and townships to adopt and take over public roads and highways constructed by the federal government during times of war.

This legislation repeals House Bill 1201 repeals Act 131 of 1943 which allowed the mentioned authorities to claim federally constructed highways, during a time of war.

This bill was enacted as Act No. 2 of 2016.

 

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The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 166, which would provide a second chance for some offenders by enabling them to expunge their record.

This legislation would allow individuals to appeal to the court to have their record cleared from public view.  These individuals would need to have served their punishment and could not have any arrests or prosecutions for at least 10 years following their punishment.

The expungement appeal would only be offered to individuals with a second or third degree misdemeanors or an ungraded offense that required less than two years of prison time. Some misdemeanors such as violent acts would not be included.

In order to offset costs, this legislation would create a $132 fee to file appeals petitions. The program would be administered by the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, the Pennsylvania State Police, the District Attorney and the Clerk of Courts.

The bill was signed in the House.

 

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