Deana’s Law Advances in Senate
Last week, I addressed my colleagues who are members of the Senate Transportation Committee about legislation I proposed to protect Pennsylvania’s families from drunk drivers. The committee then unanimously voted to send my legislation to the full Senate for consideration.
Deana’s Law is named after Deana Eckman, a Brookhaven resident who was tragically killed in a February car accident by a drunk driver who had five previous DUIs. The individual who killed Deana was convicted of his sixth DUI as wells as other serious charges related to this horrific crash and was sentenced one week prior to the committee vote.
I am pleased that my Senate colleagues on the Transportation Committee advanced Deana’s Law, which is Senate Bill 773. The bill number reflects the month and year of Deana’s birth.
Deana’s Law would do several things to discourage repeat drunk driving in Pennsylvania, including:
The incredible strength shown by Deana’s family in the aftermath of this tragedy has been inspiring. I worked on Deana’s Law with Chris Eckman, who is Deana’s husband and who was severely injured in the accident that claimed Deana’s life, and with Rich and Roseann DeRosa, who are Deana’s parents. In addition, leading DUI safety advocates and the law enforcement community helped guide the creation of Deana’s Law.
Dangerous repeat DUI offenders have caused unimaginable pain for countless families across Pennsylvania for far too long. Deana’s Law will help end the revolving door system that allows these individuals to so easily return to our streets and threaten the safety of our loved ones, and I will continue to work hard for its passage in memory of Deana.
You will find a news article about last week’s committee vote on Deana’s Law HERE.
Senate Takes Action for Child Sexual Assault Victims, Minimum Wage Workers, Pediatric Cancer Patients and Human Trafficking Victims
Last week’s Senate activity included the consideration of many important pieces of legislation affecting or improving the lives of Pennsylvania’s families. A summary of our actions can be found HERE.
While numerous critical bills were advanced, the following four legislative proposals are particularly noteworthy:
Achieving Justice for Child Sexual Abuse Victims
Last year, a Pennsylvania grand jury report provided the horrific details about child sexual abuse in our state. The report showed that 300 priests sexually abused 1,000 children over 70 years. These victims and countless others deserve justice.
When I was a member of the state House of Representatives in 2016, I voted in favor of retroactive lawsuits so that these victims could have their day in court by suing their abusers and the institutions that fostered this abuse. Some felt these kinds of lawsuits are prohibited by the Pennsylvania Constitution, and the legislation ultimately failed.
I am pleased to report that last week the Senate passed a new package of childhood sexual assault reform bills that will allow victims to finally seek justice in our courts for abuses that occurred many years ago. They include:
Generations of sexual abuse victims have been denied justice. This must never occur again. I am hopeful that these bills will be signed by Governor Tom Wolf and that the constitutional amendment proposed by the General Assembly allowing retroactive lawsuits to be filed by victims will ultimately be approved by Pennsylvania’s voters.
A news story about the child sexual abuse reform legislation can be found HERE.
An editorial about these bills is HERE.
Raising the Minimum Wage
I have long been supportive of increasing Pennsylvania’s minimum wage for working families. With the passage of Senate Bill 79 last week, our state will be increasing its minimum wage for the first time in a decade.
It should be noted that Pennsylvania is one of 21 states with a minimum wage set at the federal minimum. Twenty-nine states, including all of Pennsylvania’s neighboring states, have higher minimum wages. In addition, a recent poll found that more than 70 percent of Pennsylvanians support raising the minimum wage.
Senate Bill 79 will phase in increases to the current $7.25 minimum wage rate incrementally as follows:
While I was in favor of a larger increase, passage of this legislation is the right thing to do for workers and provides the foundation for future minimum wage increases.
This minimum wage increase gives a much-needed and long-overdue economic boost to workers in our state, and I am pleased we were finally able to take action on this important issue.
Senate Bill 79 is now before the House of Representatives for consideration.
Funding Childhood Cancer Research
Pediatric cancer research hospitals could benefit from up to $100 million in new private donations under a bill approved by the Senate last week.
Senate Bill 74 would create a tax credit program for qualifying donations made to a Pennsylvania pediatric cancer research hospital. Credits would be limited to $10 million per year over the next 10 years.
The credit would apply to qualifying donations made to:
According to the American Cancer Society, more children die from cancer than any other disease. However, the National Cancer Institute spends just 4 percent of its research dollars on pediatric cancer.
Senate Bill 74 will provide a substantial increase in the research funding that is necessary to once and for all put an end to this disease. This legislation may now be considered by the House of Representatives.
Combating Human Trafficking
Last week, the Senate passed legislation to combat human trafficking by enacting stronger penalties against all individuals who support the exploitation of victims.
Senate Bill 60 would increase penalties against any individual who patronizes a victim of human trafficking, including any individual who recruits, solicits, advertises, transports, or profits off a human trafficking victim. Tougher penalties are also levied for offenses committed against minors.
Under the bill, the most serious offenders who directly participate in the trafficking of minors for prostitution and related crimes could face imprisonment of 40 years or more. Fines and penalties against offenders who solicit the services of human trafficking victims would also see significant increases, including fines of up to $50,000 for repeat offenders.
All fines collected under the bill would be deposited into special funds to prevent human trafficking and support sexually exploited children.
The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Wishing You and Your Family a Happy Thanksgiving
On behalf of my family and staff, I would like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. I am thankful for the incredible honor of serving you in the Pennsylvania Senate.
Assistance for Veterans
I partner with the Pennsylvania American Legion every month to assist local veterans at my Brookhaven office. A representative from this organization will be helping veterans with issues on:
Date: Wednesday, January 22nd
Time: 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Location: Senator Killion’s Brookhaven Office, 4110 Edgmont Avenue, Brookhaven, PA
I encourage veterans and their families who have questions about benefits and programs to schedule an appointment during these assistance hours. Appointments can be made by contacting my office at (610) 447 – 3163. This service is offered the fourth Wednesday of each month.
How I Can Help
My offices provide many services to families in our area. Here are some of the ways we can help.
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