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Judiciary 2019-2020

The Judiciary Committee meeting met on Tuesday, October 6, 2020 to and unanimously reported the following bills:

SB 136 (Ward): Adding sexually based human trafficking offenses to Megan’s law.

SB 658 (Browne): Establishes a Center to generate statewide standards and training for attorneys who represent indigent criminal defendants.

SB 1085 (Blake): Criminalizes evading arrest on foot.

HB 616 (Owlett): Adds Carfentnyl to Schedule II of the Controlled Substances Act and deschedules the epilepsy treatment drug Epidiolex in conformance with federal law.

The Judiciary Committee meeting met on September 22, 2020 to unanimously move the following nominations to the Court of Common Pleas and unanimously reported the following bills:

Nominations:

  • Andrea Puppio Delaware County
  • Christina Hale Schuylkill County

HB 440 Delozier/McClinton: Providing for automatic expungement of the records of those proven innocent.

SB 120: Streamlines the adoption process by providing time limits for objections and updating notice requirements.

SB 868 Santarsiero: Kayden’s Law – Refocuses provisions of the custody law on the health and safety of the child.

Amendment 06061: Refines the legislation in accordance with extensive feedback from stakeholders including the family law section of the state bar, Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, and child abuse and domestic violence advocates. Adopted unanimously.

The Senate Judiciary Committee met on September 21, 2020 and unanimously reported as amended the following legislation:

SB 1075 Arnold – creating a grading and sentencing enhancement for child pornography where the child is under the age of 6 or prepubescent.

Amendment 07264 – Raised the age that triggers the enhancements from 6 to 10 and creates a task force to further combat child pornography.

The Senate Judiciary Committee met on Wednesday, September 9, 2020 to move the following bills:

SB 833 (Sen. Farnese) Adds a class of Civil Celebrants to those permitted to perform marriage ceremonies in PA. Passed unanimously

SB 1033 (Sen. Gordner) Adds a third judge to the Court of Common Pleas in the 26th Judicial District. Passed unanimously

HB 1747 (Rep. Dowling) Eliminates the sections restricting the open carry or sales of firearms in an emergency. Passed 9 to 5 on party lines

HB 2175 (Rep. Schroeder) – Extends the special permission for expert witnesses in sexual violence cases to additional sexually based crimes. Passed unanimously

HB 2176 (Rep. Mustello) – Adds additional offenses to the crime of unlawful contact with a minor. Passed unanimously

The Senate Judiciary Committee met on Tuesday, September 8, 2020


 

The Senate Judiciary Committee met on Wednesday, September 9, 2020 to move the following bills:

SB 833 (Sen. Farnese) Adds a class of Civil Celebrants to those permitted to perform marriage ceremonies in PA. Passed unanimously

SB 1033 (Sen. Gordner) Adds a third judge to the Court of Common Pleas in the 26th Judicial District. Passed unanimously

HB 1747 (Rep. Dowling) Eliminates the sections restricting the open carry or sales of firearms in an emergency. Passed 9 to 5 on party lines

HB 2175 (Rep. Schroeder) – Extends the special permission for expert witnesses in sexual violence cases to additional sexually based crimes. Passed unanimously

HB 2176 (Rep. Mustello) – Adds additional offenses to the crime of unlawful contact with a minor. Passed unanimously

The Senate Judiciary Committee met on Monday, June 24, 2020 and reported out the following:

HB 256 (Mentzer): Reconciles the crime of “Assault by prisoner” with the aggravated assault statute by clarifying that any assault on a corrections employee is a felony of the second degree regardless of which crime is charged.

Amendment A0636 (Baker): Senator Muth’s No Consent in Custody legislation which forbids sexual contact between law enforcement officers (including probation/parole officers) and anyone in their custody or under their supervision including confidential informants. The amendment was unanimously adopted.

The bill was unanimously reported as amended.

HB 1855 (Bernstein): If an inmate is convicted of a violent offense while incarcerated, that inmate may not be released until the later of 2 years after their minimum sentence for the underlying crime, two years after a commutation is granted, or two years after the conviction. If an inmate is convicted of a crime of obstruction of justice which includes witness/victim intimidation and possession of contraband, that inmate cannot be released until the later of one year after the minimum sentence, commuted sentence, or after the conviction.

Amendment A06358 (Farnese): Removes the provisions relating to commuted sentences as the commutation process would consider any underlying convictions. The amendment was unanimously adopted.

The bill was unanimously reported as amended.

HB 1984 Benninghoff/SB 1204 Farnese: Provides that a victim of rape or incest who conceives a child due to that abuse does not need to prove that there is another parent ready to adopt the child to terminate the parental rights of the abuser.

The bills were unanimously reported as committed.

SB 14 (Anthony Williams): Limits the imposition of a sentence and the administration of probation.

Amendment A06235 (Baker): Modifies the provisions of the legislation in accordance with stakeholder negotiations, please see the attached document “Key Points” for more details. The amendment was adopted unanimously.

The bill was unanimously reported as amended.

SB 1158 (Arnold): Sets limitations on who may receive a reprieve of sentence under a declaration of disaster emergency.

Amendment A06264: Adds the statutory reprieve language which the legislature was trying to work out with the Governor before he moved forward with an executive order to issue reprieves.  The amendment was adopted by a vote of 12-2

The bill was reported as amended by a vote of 10-4

The Senate Judiciary Committee met on Wednesday, May 13, 2020 to favorably recommended the nomination of the following two members of the Parole Board by unanimous votes:

Charles James Fox (reappointment)

Khadija T. Diggs

The Senate Judiciary Committee met Wednesday, April 29, 2020 to consider the following bills all of which passed unanimously:

SB 1119 (Baker) – Suspends the statute of limitations and filing deadlines for court cases for 30 days after the expiration of the Judicial emergency.

Amendment A05341 (Baker) – The filing deadlines resume either 30 days after the expiration of the Judicial Emergency, or 30 days after the court has established a rule permitting filing to resume, whichever comes first.

SB 1120 (Baker) – Suspends the payment of court costs, fines, and restitution for 30 days after the expiration of the Judicial emergency.

Amendment 05300 (Baker) – Repayment must resume 30 days after the expiration of the judicial emergency or 30 days after the court has established a rule allowing payments to resume, whichever comes first.

Amendment 05340 (Farnese) – Amends Senator Baker’s amendment to extend the repayment until 60 days after the end of the emergency or establishment of court rule in recognition that economic factors as well as court closure may make resuming payments difficult.

HB 1538 (White) – Allows the Parole Board to decline to hear the Parole application of sexually violent predators and others convicted of sexually based offenses for up to three years after denying parole. Currently parole applications must be heard annually at the discretion of the inmate or their attorney except for those convicted of murder while a minor, murder of an unborn child, or murder of a law enforcement officer, which the parole board may elect to hear every five years.

Amendment 5296 (Baker) – Adds murder and voluntary manslaughter to the list of offenses for which the parole board can delay review for up to three years. Also provides that if a victim elects to appear in person to give testimony before the parole board, the hearing officer or parole board member assigned to that case must also appear in person.

The Senate Judiciary Committee met on Monday April 20, 2020 to consider the following bills, which were all passed unanimously:

SB 1119 (Baker) – Suspends the statute of limitations for filing of new cases as well as any other judicial deadlines for the period of the judicial emergency retroactively to March 18.

SB 1120 (Baker) – Suspends the payment of court costs, fines, and restitution through and for 30 days after the period of judicial emergency retroactive to March 18th.

HB 360 (Topper) – Forbids the marriage of anyone under the age of 18.

Amendment A05089 – Permits the filing of an affidavit in lieu of appearing personally in order to receive a marriage license during a period of judicial emergency.

The Judiciary Committee met Wednesday, January 29, 2020 to report out the following bills:

SB 968 and 969 (previously SB 714 and 715) to effectuate the merger of the Department of Corrections and Board of Probation and Parole and locate the Office of the Victim Advocate under the purview of DOC.

SB 968 was amended by eliminating an undefined term, restoring the current process for resolving disagreements in parole revocation or recommitment, and eliminating language regarding the probation requirements for sex offenders or violent criminals.

SB 976 to authorize the establishment of veterans courts, regional veterans courts, and a veterans track under existing problem-solving courts, the bill was amended to clarify that in order to form regional veteran’s courts the counties participating need not be contiguous.

The Senate Judiciary Committee met on Monday, November 18, 2019 to consider the following:

SB 809 – This bill establishes the Legislative Conduct Review Board as an independent agency to investigate claims of ethics violations and harassment by members of the General Assembly.  An amendment was offered, which clarifies provisions related to commissioners.  The amendment was passed unanimously, and the bill reported out as amended unanimously.

The Senate Judiciary Committee met on Monday, November 18, 2019 to consider the following:

SB 809 – This bill establishes the Legislative Conduct Review Board as an independent agency to investigate claims of ethics violations and harassment by members of the General Assembly.  An amendment was offered, which clarifies provisions related to commissioners.  The amendment was passed unanimously, and the bill reported out as amended unanimously.

HB 97 – This bill bans the sale of vaping products to minors.  An amendment was offered, which reconciles the bill to the definitions contained in SB 473 (the “Tobacco Age 21” legislation previously passed by the Senate).  The amendment passed with one negative vote, and the bill was reported as amended unanimously.

HB 962 – This bill abolishes the criminal statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse and extends the civil statute of limitations to age 55.  An amendment was offered, which will provide that any person with a claim of sexual abuse that has been reported to law enforcement may apply to have counseling paid for through the Crime Victims Act.  A second amendment was offered, which permits direct victims of sexual abuse to apply to use crime victim’s funds for counseling relating to the abuse.  The amount is capped at $5,000 for people who were adults when the abuse occurred, and $10,000 for those who were children.  The amendments were passed unanimously, and the bill reported our as amended unanimously.

HB 963 – Constitutional amendment opening a two-year window to file civil suits for cases of childhood sexual abuse that have been previously time barred.  The bill was unanimously reported as committed.

HB 1171 – Forbidding nondisclosure agreements from preventing reporting to or cooperating with investigations by law enforcement.  An amendment was offered, which will clarify that the notice language provided which creates a presumption of a valid nondisclosure agreement only does so for agreements relating to childhood sexual abuse.  A second amendment was offered, which clarifies that the notice provisions which create a presumption of a valid agreement only apply to agreements regarding childhood sexual abuse.  The amendments were adopted unanimously, and the bill reported out unanimously, as amended.

The Senate Judiciary Committee met Monday, February 4, 2019 and reported the following from committee:

As Committed
Senate Bill 49 (Killion): This bill provides for civil immunity of person rescuing minor from a motor vehicle.

Senate Bill 86 (Brooks): Adds emergency medical responders to the list of caregivers who may accept newborns relinquished by a parent.

Senate Resolution 20 (Baker): Directs the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to conduct a study of the impact of venue for medical professional liability actions on access to medical care and maintenance of health care systems in this Commonwealth and requesting that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court delay action on the proposed amendment to Pa.R.C.P. No. 1006.

Senator Larry Farnese

Senator Larry Farnese

Committee Chair