Child Protection Should Be a Priority in Harrisburg
The new 2013-2014 legislative session in the General Assembly has begun. As you may know, any legislation not previously passed must be reintroduced at this time.
Today, I introduced a package of legislation aimed at keeping children in our communities safe. My child protection package targets a variety of concerns that I feel need to be prioritized by our Legislature. These bills will help to ensure our children have a safe environment to grow and learn.
Here are some details about each bill. As always, I welcome your feedback and opinion on any of these proposals, or any other matter currently before the General Assembly.
1. Residency restrictions for convicted sex predators. I am introducing legislation which would create a residency restriction for Megan’s Law sex offender registrants. The restriction prohibits any sex offender from living within 1,000 feet of a school, preschool, day care facility or public playground. This restriction also prohibits a sex offender from living within 500 feet from a school bus stop. It’s time Pennsylvania joins the 19 other states who have residency requirements for sex offenders and keep these convicted predators away from our children.
2. Forfeiture of public pension and increased penalties for drug delivery. As a result of several cases in Northampton County where school employees were selling drugs on school property, I am introducing legislation that would add an additional two years to any sentence imposed on school administrators, teachers or employees convicted of drug possession or delivery on school property. A second bill would require a forfeiture of a school employee’s pension if convicted of selling drugs on school property. We should be assured that our children are going to school to learn in a safe environment and that our school employees are held to the highest of standards.
3. Forfeiture of parental rights. Our children should always feel safe, especially at home. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. That is why I am introducing legislation that would terminate parental rights to a child if the parent is found guilty of committing certain violent offenses in which the victim is another child or adult living in the home. This happens all too often causing permanent scarring and damage to vulnerable children. These children should be protected from violence, especially in their homes.
4. Removal of statute of limitations. I continue the fight to remove the statute of limitations for sexual abuse cases involving a minor. The first bill will remove the statue of limitations for criminal cases. A second bill removes the limitation for civil cases. Far too often, those who are sexually abused as minors go decades before seeking justice for the abuse they suffered as children. My bills would give sex abuse victims the recourse the rightly deserve.
5. Chronic runaway child. Continuing my concern for chronic runaway children, I am introducing a bill that would direct the Department of Public Welfare to develop specific assessment/counseling plans for chronic runaways as part of county shelter care, custody and detention. Rather than leaving these children to fend for themselves on the street, I want to give chronic runaway children a helping hand they so desperately need.
I appreciate you taking the time to learn about my efforts to protect our children as the new session begins in the General Assembly.