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Friday, December 20, 2013

Capitol Update by Rep. Martin Causer

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Capitol Update
Friday, December 20, 2013 The latest news from the State Capitol

Several Child Protection Measures Now Law

Based on recommendations from the Task Force on Child Protection created in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State, the General Assembly has enacted several new laws designed to protect Pennsylvania’s children.
Bills signed into law by the governor on Wednesday include those that better clarify what constitutes child abuse; establish enhanced penalties for child pornography and luring a child into a motor vehicle; and make it a crime to falsely report child abuse, as well as to intimidate, retaliate or obstruct child abuse cases. Another measure establishes due process protections for people subjected to unfounded reports.

These and other legislative initiatives still before the House or Senate were recommended after the Task Force on Child Protection conducted a comprehensive review of the state’s child abuse laws, policies and practices to determine what laws needed to be strengthened, added or changed. For more information, click here.

Reducing the Legislature Diminishes Voice of Rural PA

The House took up legislation this week that would reduce the size of the state House from 203 members to 153 and the state Senate from 50 members to 38. I voted against both of these measures.

It is already a struggle to ensure the voice of rural Pennsylvania is heard when legislation is being debated and discussed in Harrisburg. Cutting down on the number of legislative districts in the state would result in rural areas being merged into suburban or even urban districts with different interests and priorities. There is no doubt in mind that the voice of rural Pennsylvania would be significantly diminished if such a plan was enacted.

Despite my concerns, and similar concerns raised by others, the bills passed the House and are now awaiting consideration in the Senate. Reducing the size of the legislature requires an amendment to the state constitution. In order to do that, the legislation would have to be passed in two consecutive sessions of the General Assembly and then approved by referendum of the voters.

Supreme Court Ruling on Megan’s Law Won’t Put Kids at Risk

Earlier this week, the state Supreme Court struck down portions of the state’s Megan’s Law – the law that requires maintenance of a registry of sex offenders in the Commonwealth – because its enactment violated the single subject rule of the Pennsylvania Constitution.

Fortunately, the General Assembly already took the necessary steps to correct these problems in the law back in 2011 when other updates were being made to comply with federal laws. So there will be no interruption in the service or protections provided to our children by the law.

Resolution Calls for Affordable Care Act Exemption for Volunteer Fire, Rescue and EMS Companies

The House approved a resolution this week calling on President Barack Obama and Congress to exempt volunteer fire, rescue and emergency services (EMS) companies from the requirement of businesses to purchase insurance policies under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Currently, 71 percent of fire departments in the nation are staffed by volunteers, and in Pennsylvania, that number jumps to 97 percent. Some volunteer fire companies have been notified that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) may be poised to rule that such companies are businesses with 50 or more employees, bringing them under the requirements of ACA.

House Resolution 584 recognizes that such requirements could force substantial tax increases to cover the expense of health insurance or cause departments to close.

Merry Christmas!

Best wishes to you and your loved ones for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Please note that my offices will be closed Dec. 24-26 for Christmas and on Jan. 1 for New Year’s Day. You may visit me online anytime at or

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