|Marsy’s Law Now Up to Voters
Legislation that would provide Pennsylvania crime victims with a bill of rights passed unanimously in the Senate this week. House Bill 276, also known as Marsy’s Law, will now appear as a ballot question in the November election for voters to decide.
The bill would change the state Constitution and ensure crime victims receive information about their rights; receive notification of proceedings in their criminal cases; be present at court hearings; be heard at plea and sentencing proceedings; and be treated with fairness, respect and dignity.
Marsy’s Law is named after Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas of California. She was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. Then, just days later, her mother and brother were confronted by the accused murderer in a grocery store. They were unaware the defendant had been released on bail.
To honor his sister, Henry Nicholas has made it his life’s mission to give victims and their families constitutional protections and equal rights.
Action on House Bill 276 was in addition to six other measures to enhance protections for crime victims that were sent this week to the governor by the House and Senate. They include House Bill 502, which strengthens the right of crime victims to attend court proceedings, and House Bill 504, which shields rape victims against irrelevant cross examinations.
Taxpayers Deserve Better Budgeting Practices
Respecting the taxpayers who foot the bill for the annual state budget, House Republicans took the lead this week in adopting several measures to bring more transparency to the budget process.
To help limit “supplemental” spending beyond what is approved in each year’s budget, House Bill 855 would require the secretary of the budget to project revenue shortfalls for the fiscal year starting in December and put that amount of money in budgetary reserve to ensure the budget is balanced at the end of the fiscal year. Additionally, House Bill 923 would require the governor to explain the reasons for any supplemental spending requests and offer recommendations for cost-savings or other reforms to address the cause.
Other reform measures would require the administration to provide additional details as part of the governor’s proposed budget (House Bill 922); require quarterly reports on funding committed and awarded through special funds that provide grants and subsidies (House Bill 921); and update budget procedures related to unspent appropriations and how those amounts are dealt with at the close of a fiscal year (House Bill 920).
The bills are part of the House Republican Caucus’ #GovtDoneRight initiative and now go to the Senate for consideration. To learn more, click here.
Boosting PA’s Dairy Industry
A rally was held at the Capitol this week in support of two bills pending in Congress to help the dairy industry and our children.
The “Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act of 2019” would allow flavored and unflavored whole milk to be offered in school cafeterias to give students more choice, while the Dairy PRIDE Act would protect the integrity of dairy products by calling on the feds to enforce existing labeling requirements for milk. Essentially, non-dairy products made from nuts, seeds and plants could no longer be marketed as milk, yogurt or cheese.
One of the speakers was Pennsylvania Congressman Glenn Thompson (at podium), sponsor of the school milk bill.
Earlier, the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee approved resolutions endorsing the bills and urging congressional action.
In the District
On Monday, our office had the privilege of attending the change of command ceremony at Tobyhanna Army Depot. After two years in the post, Col. Nathan Swartz relinquished command to Col. John McDonald, who becomes the depot’s 33rd commander.
Happy birthday to John Davis of Mt. Pocono, who turned 100 years young on June 16! I had the honor of presenting John with a House citation in recognition of his special day.
I had the pleasure of attending the recent open house at Clymer Library in Pocono Pines at which some of its founders and original volunteers were honored, including Bette Jayne Kovitch (left) and Lillian Judge (right).
Fun for All Ages Awaits at PA Fairs
Summer has officially arrived, and that means it’s also Pennsylvania fair season.
From June through September, communities across the Commonwealth will host more than 100 fairs featuring food, fun and entertainment as well as competitive exhibits highlighting animals, produce, crops, crafts, baking and more.
To make your fair planning easier, the Department of Agriculture is offering an interactive Fair Guide this year that will allow you to search for your favorite events through the “Find Fairs Near Me” tool or filters that narrow down fairs by county, month or date. Click here to access the guide.