Harrisburg – State Senators Tom McGarrigle (R-26) and Tom Killion (R-9) today called on the House of Representatives to pass a package of domestic violence bills approved by the Senate in March, including landmark legislation sponsored by the two senators.
“These bills to provide additional protections for victims of domestic violence received unanimous, bipartisan support in the Senate and they deserve a vote in the House,” McGarrigle said. “The House has only a limited number of days of voting scheduled before the end of the legislative session. There needs to be a sense of urgency.”
“There is so much more that we can be doing to protect victims of domestic abuse,” said Killion. “This package of bills has been vetted, deliberated and positioned for enactment. I urge the House to act and get these bills onto the governor’s desk as soon as possible.”
Senate Bill 501, sponsored by Senator Killion, was among the bills approved in the Senate. This bill would require for the first time in Pennsylvania the relinquishment of all guns by individuals who are the subject of Protection from Abuse (PFA) orders, within 24 hours. It also shortens the time defendants convicted of misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence must surrender their guns from 60 days for 48 hours, and prohibits allowing friends and family members outside of abusers’ households to store firearms surrendered by these individuals.
Senator McGarrigle’s legislation, Senate Bill 502, makes it easier for the court to extend a PFA order when an abuser is released from custody. Specifically, it extends any existing protection order for 90 days after the defendant has been released from incarceration. In addition, under the measure, the victim will not be required to show that the defendant engaged in a new threatening act to gain this protection.
Other domestic violence bills co-sponsored by Killion and McGarrigle and awaiting House action include:
Senate Bill 500 requires a law enforcement official to accompany a victim to his or her residence before or during the service of a PFA order.
Senate Bill 313 makes it easier for domestic violence victims to remove the name of an abuser from a shared telephone plan.
Senate Bill 919 allows domestic violence victims who live in public housing to be relocated to another unit.
Two of the Senate-passed measures were approved by the House:
Senate Bill 1011 (Pamphlet Laws Resolution No. 1) amends the state Constitution to create a crime victims “Bill of Rights.”
Senate Bill 449 (Act 14 of 2018), also known as Tierne’s Law, clarifies existing law that allows judges to use risk assessment tools when setting bail in domestic violence cases.
“The ramifications of domestic violence go well beyond the actual victims. These crimes destabilize families, put children at risk and place responding police officers in danger. Enactment of these measures will make a real difference in so many lives,” McGarrigle said.
“The General Assembly has only a few weeks left to send the message that we hear the voices of victims and that we are going to use every means within our authority to protect them. We just need our colleagues in the House to join us in action,” said Killion.