Senator Tom Killion E-Newsletter

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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:

  • Requiring Continuous Alcohol Monitoring Devices in the form of bracelet technology that automatically notifies officials when repeat DUI offenders consume alcohol in violation of court directives. This allows law enforcement to prevent these offenders from getting behind the wheel again while intoxicated;
  • Substantially increasing the levels of felony convictions for repeat DUI offenders, resulting in additional jail time and monetary fines;
  • Doubling the time period repeat DUI offenders must use ignition interlock devices on their vehicles;
  • Directing the Pennsylvania State Police, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts to formulate recommendations for using DUI Courts around the state. DUI Courts specialize in drunk driving cases to better focus on the appropriate sentencing and treatment of DUI offenders.
  • Prohibiting concurrent sentencing for some repeat offenders so they are not able to take advantage of serving sentences for multiple DUI convictions at the same time. This will result in penalizing these offenders over a longer period.

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:

  • House Bill 962, which would eliminate the criminal statute of limitations for the sexual abuse of a child, as well as associated crimes such as human trafficking. The bill also extends the deadline for civil actions from age 30 to age 55.
  • House Bill 963, which would amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to create a two-year window of time for retroactive lawsuits for victims whose statute of limitations has already expired. The legislation addresses concerns lawmakers once raised about whether the two-year window was unconstitutional. This constitutional amendment will need to be approved by Pennsylvania’s voters.
  • House Bill 1051, which clarifies mandatory reporting standards for suspected cases of abuse and increases penalties for mandated reporters who continue to fail to report suspected child abuse.
  • House Bill 1171, which ensures survivors who sign non-disclosure statements are not prohibited from speaking with law enforcement regarding their abuse.

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:

  • July 1, 2020: $8.00
  • January 1, 2021: $8.50
  • July 1, 2021: $9.00
  • January 1, 2022: $9.50

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:

  • The Center for Childhood Research, Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania.
  • Penn State Hershey Pediatric Hematology/Oncology.
  • Abramson Cancer Center, Penn Medicine.
  • The UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

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.


Always Here to Help

My offices provide many services to families in our area. Here are some of the ways we can help.

  • Unemployment compensation issues
  • SEPTA Key Senior Photo IDs
  • Free notary service
  • Pennsylvania birth certificates
  • PennDOT assistance with drivers licensing questions
  • Information on financial assistance for higher education
  • Assistance with preparation of Property Tax/Rent Rebate applications
  • Citations from the Pennsylvania Senate for notable local accomplishments and milestones
  • Assistance with PA insurance programs: Medical Assistance and CHIP
  • Fishing and hunting information
  • Pennsylvania personal income tax forms
  • Pennsylvania road maps
  • Requests for copies of legislation, bills and regulations
  • Requests for literature for students and senior citizens
  • Tours of the State Capitol for individuals or groups
  • Assistance with state agency issues

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