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Boscola Bulletin

Christine’s Law Requiring Snow and Ice Removal from Vehicles Moves Forward

Car
Ice from a passing tractor trailer crashed into a car Jan. 22, 2019, on Interstate 80 in Monroe County, Pennsylvania State Police said. The car's passenger was injured. (Photo courtesy the Marshalls Creek Fire Company | For lehighvalleylive.com)

Christine’s Law is a matter of public safety and common sense.  Under current state law, a driver can only be cited should they fail to clear the snow and ice and that snow/ice missile comes off a vehicle’s roof causing “significant injury or death” to another person.  My legislation will allow police to cite driver’s who are operating their vehicles with a dangerous amount of snow and ice on their vehicle’s roof.  The intent of my proposal is not punitive; however, it is preventative: to have motorists clear off their cars BEFORE operating them.

Christine’s Law is named after Christine Lambert, a Palmer Township resident, who was tragically killed by an ice missile on Christmas Day 2005.  I have been working with Christine’s husband, Frank, and son, Matthew, on this important issue so that no family must endure the tragic loss of a loved one for something that is preventable.

Christine’s Law did pass the Senate unanimously last session in April 2018 but was not taken up in the House prior to session concluding in November.  It is my hope that by acting on this legislation much sooner this session, it will give the House more time for their consideration and hopefully sending SB 114 to the Governor’s desk.

Here are my remarks from when Christine’s Law passed the Senate Floor last session.

Marsy’s Law

Sen. Boscola's Marsy's Law Floor RemarksI was proud to speak on the Senate Floor in support of HB 276, also known as “Marsy’s Law.” Marsy’s Law was named after Dr. Nicholas’ sister, Marsalee (Marsy) Nicholas, a beautiful, vibrant University of California Santa Barbara student, who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. Only a week after Marsy was murdered, Dr. Nicholas and Marsy’s mother, Mrs. Marcella Leach, walked into a grocery store after visiting her daughter’s grave and were confronted by the accused murderer. The family had no idea that he had been released on bail.

Marsy’s Law seeks to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to secure a Victim’s Bill of Rights for citizens in the Commonwealth.  The goal is to empower victims of crimes and their families at the times they feel powerless.  These rights ensure victims receive notice of hearings and other proceedings, physical and emotional protection from the accused, notice to the victim in cases of release or escape, proceedings free from unnecessary delay, the ability to confer with the prosecutor in the case, and full and timely restitution from the offender.

Senator Lisa Boscola receives Marsy's Law AwardWe can all agree that no rapist should have more rights than the victim. No murderer should be afforded more rights than the victim’s family.  Marsy’s Law would ensure that victims have the same co-equal rights as the accused and convicted – nothing more, nothing less.

This monumental piece of legislation will now place a referendum on this November’s election ballot for Pennsylvania citizens to decide to amend the State Constitution to add the victim’s bill of rights.

Legislation Giving Independents the Right to Vote in Primaries Sent to Senate Floor

Allowing Independents the ability to fully participate in our Democracy has long been a goal of mine.  On Tuesday, the State Government committee move forward a bill that would amend the state law to allow independents the right to vote in primary elections. Earlier this session, I introduced legislation, Senate Bill 357, to allow independents this right.  The committee move forward a similar bill introduced by the Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, SB 300.

The bill was reported out to the floor of the Senate with the hope for a final vote on this issue to allow for a system of open primaries in the Commonwealth.  As with my proposal, SB 300 would allow for independents to choose a party’s ballot in which to cast their votes on primary day.

At a time when so many of our citizens feel like their voices are not being heard by their government, we need our citizens more engaged.  If we are going to steer this democracy to calm waters and take our government back from the special interests, it will take each and every voter getting involved and making their opinions known. 

Not being affiliated with either the Democratic or Republican party should not disqualify someone from having a say in who the candidates will be for a General Election.   In many local elections, the primary decides who serves.  Why are we disenfranchising a segment of registered voters from having a voice in whether school district taxes are raised, who the next superintendent may be or the whom the next county judge should be?  It is not right.

It is my hope the Senate acts quickly to correct this by sending SB 300 over to the House before we adjourn in the next ten days.

Open Primary

SB 421 – Straight-Party Voting Elimination

This week, the Senate State Government Committee unanimously approved Senate Bill 421, a bill which I introduced to eliminate straight-party voting in Pennsylvania elections.

My belief is that by eliminating this archaic practice - as 42 other states across the country have done – we will have voters making more informed and committed votes.  While individuals have the ability to still vote for candidates all from one party or another, they will also have to go down the ballot and make choices based on individual candidates.

Less partisanship is needed, both in government and in the voting booth.  This bill drives home at that issue, by giving more choice to a voter to select candidates and their qualifications, and not their party affiliation.

Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure

Also this week in Harrisburg, the Senate Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure committee met to consider a variety of bills.  Senate Bill 67, which I co-sponsored, would permit Pennsylvania to join the Psychology Licensure Compact.  To briefly explain the concept, when states join together in specific license compacts, they establish terms of education and license qualifications that gives reciprocity for that individual to practice their profession in any of the states within the agreement.  As Democratic Chair of the Committee, I have a great interest in license compacts.  For Pennsylvania, this is critical as we have an older population and there is growing concern about the increased demands for medical professionals to provide our population with that care.

PipelineAdditionally, the committee also adopted two bills relating to pipeline emergency action plans.  Senate Bills 258 and 284 work collaboratively in one requires pipeline owners and operators to have operational and emergency response plans that must be reviewed and approved by the Public Utility Commission.  Senate Bill 258 then requires that the Public Utility Commission, annually, distribute the plans and other pertinent information to impacted county emergency management coordinators so that communities and emergency responders are aware of the process to respond to any pipeline malfunctions that pose an imminent risk to communities.

Pipelines, just like highways, roads and electric lines, are a vital part of our infrastructure.  There are tens of thousands of miles of pipelines in our state, carrying a variety of fuel sources.  While pipelines are a necessity to our society in offering and transporting crucial services and products, public safety is and should always be the key priority.  As lawmakers, we have a responsibility to ensure that the public is at minimal risk, and that pipelines are being inspected regularly and their operators are making continual strides to ensure proper function and safe operation.

Bi-Partisan Policy Committee Hearing

Senate Majority Policy Chair David Argall (R-Schuylkill/Berks) and I held a bi-partisan workshop discussion on the pros and cons of school district consolidation. This was an opportunity for Senators to ask questions and hear the results from a report completed by the Joint State Government Commission.  The hearing was prompted by interest in learning more about the complexities of school district consolidation.

Senators David Argall and Lisa Boscola The first wave of school district consolidation occurred in the 1960s, the Commonwealth went from 2,277 school districts to 668. The second wave in the 1970s saw the number shrink to 505, and we are currently at 500 school districts. According to the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, during the mergers in the 60s and 70s, communities positively commented on how school districts became the “center of the community.”

The Joint State Government Commission made it clear that “the devil is really in the details.”  They noted the variability that exists between states and counties emphasizing that there is no one size fits all approach to school district consolidation, and that each school district has its own distinct needs.

Mergers were suggested by Senators and participants to gradually introduce different districts to each other.  Mergers do not demand a change of management structures, instead they allow for schools to cooperate in areas such as transportation, sports, cafeteria workers, administrative personal, and other areas.  This strategy puts more power in the hands of the community.  All participants agreed that the state should be involved at the beginning of the consolidation and merging process.

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Offices of State Senator Lisa M. Boscola

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