Senate Measure Cracks Down on Metal Theft
The Senate passed a bill on May 6th creating the offense of theft of secondary metal. The bill is intended to deter the theft of wire, cable or pipe from homes, businesses, construction sites and utility infrastructure. The rising market value for metals, especially copper, has spurred an increase in these thefts.
Under Senate Bill 688 , which I co-sponsored, the theft of secondary metal would be a misdemeanor of the third degree when the value of the metal is less than $50, a misdemeanor of the second degree if the value of the metal is between $50 and $200, a misdemeanor of the first degree if the value of the metal is between $200 and $1,000 and a felony of the third degree when the value of the metal is more than $1,000.
The bill now goes to the House of Representatives.
Senate Approves Landowner Liability Measure
The Senate approved legislation on May 8th that would limit the liability of land owners who allow hunting on their property. Senate Bill 648, which I co-sponsored, would prevent land owners from being prosecuted for Game Code violations committed by hunters who are permitted to use the property.
Under current law, land owners who allow hunting on their property could be held responsible for violations by hunters, such as taking an animal out of season. Property owners could still be held responsible for violations if they receive a fee, payment or gratuity from the hunter. SB 648 was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Returns Industrialized Building Bill to House
The Senate approved House Bill 124 on May 7th. This bill amends the Industrialized Housing Act to clearly give the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) the power to issue regulations to create a certification program for the construction/installation of industrialized commercial buildings. The bill was amended by the Senate Labor and Industry Committee, so it returns to the House for concurrence.
Other bills approved by the Senate this week and sent to the House include:
Senate Bill 304, which I co-sponsored, updates and finishes the codification of the state Nonprofit Corporation Law and makes it consistent with the Business Corporation Law.
Senate Bill 835 , which I introduced, would allow stepchildren to share in any recovery obtained through a lawsuit alleging wrongful death. The bonds between a stepchild and stepparent are commonly as strong as those between a natural parent and child. It is also common for the stepchild to be dependent on a stepparent for support. As such, when a stepparent passes away, the stepchild is often left without sufficient financial support.
Senate Bill 777, which I introduced, is intended to encourage the multiple agencies that are normally involved in child welfare and delinquency cases to share information and work together toward the goal of achieving the best possible outcomes in these cases.
Such a program has worked well in Lehigh County under the acronym of SHOCAP – Serious Habitual Offender Comprehensive Action Plan. The underlying premise of this program is to facilitate the distribution of information between all relevant agencies to try to prevent both further victimization and/or criminal conduct of individuals in a family. Through early intervention, each county would be able to reduce potential demands on the social service networks and possible involvement with the criminal justice system.
Pension Reform Plan Unveiled at Capitol Press Conference
Governor Tom Corbett and members of the General Assembly unveiled, on May 7th at a press conference in the Capitol, a comprehensive pension reform plan that would address skyrocketing pension costs. The plan, to be introduced as Senate Bill 922 and House Bill 1350, would not change pension benefits for current retirees. It also would not change benefits already earned by current state workers and teachers. It would change the way current legislators, teachers and state workers earn future benefits. It also would enroll new employees and teachers into a new retirement system more in line with what is traditionally available in the private sector. To watch the entire press conference, click here. To watch my comments at the press conference only, click here.
Senate Committee Action:
Committee Approves Ban on Taxpayer-Funded Elective
The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee approved a measure on May 7th that would prohibit the use of taxpayer dollars for elective abortions under the Affordable Care Act. House Bill 818, which is the companion bill to Senate Bill 3 – which I co-sponsored, explicitly prohibits health insurers participating in taxpayer-subsidized state health insurance exchanges – slated to be operational by 2014 – from providing coverage for elective abortions except for cases of rape, incest or when the mother’s life is in danger. Currently, 21 states have passed legislation to opt-out of abortion funding.