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Judiciary 2021-2022

The Judiciary Committee met on Tuesday, April 5, 2022 to vote on the following bills:

Senate Bill 118 (Ward) – Amends Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedures) by adding certain sex trafficking offenses to the list of offenses requiring registration under Megan’s Law.

The bill was reported out as committed by a vote of 10 Y – 2 N

Senate Bill 1040 (Browne) – Amends the Crime Victims Act (Act 111 of 1998) by requiring law enforcement to make reasonable efforts to notify surviving family members of a murder victim prior to publicly releasing the victim’s identification.

The bill was reported out as committed by a unanimous vote of 12 Y – 0 N

Senate Bill 1172 (Vogel) – Creates a free standing act known as the Sexual Assault Emergency Services Act.  The act would encourage hospitals to establish a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Program.  These programs would ensure that hospitals have registered nurses with advanced education and training to that can provide comprehensive health care to survivors of sexual assault, including forensic medical examinations.

A technical amendment (#A03875) was offered in committee that made the following changes:

Amended the definition of “Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner” to make a specific reference to the most recent Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Guidelines established by the International Association of Forensic Nurses (change was necessary to avoid a non-delegation doctrine challenge and conform with the PA Supreme Court’s decision in Protz v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board).

It extended the deadline imposed on DOH for compiling a searchable online list of “SANE” Programs from 90 days to 180 days.

Amendment #A03875 was adopted by a unanimous vote of 12 Y – 0 N.

The bill was reported out as amended by a unanimous vote of 12 Y – 0 N.

Senate Bill 1179 (Baker) – Amends Title 23 (Domestic Relations) by making the following changes to the Domestic and Sexual Violence Victim Address Confidentiality Program: (1) extending the program’s address confidentiality protection to victims of child abduction (18 Pa.C.S. §2904),  human trafficking (18 Pa.C.S. §3011), and involuntary servitude (18 Pa.C.S. §3012); and (2) allowing victims to electronically file their application and supporting documentation with the Office of Victim Advocate (OVA).

The bill was reported out as committed by a unanimous vote of 12Y – 0 N

Senate Bill 110 was on today’s agenda.  However, the bill was pulled prior to the meeting.

The Judiciary Committee met on Wednesday, February 9, 2022 to consider the following bills:

House Bill 1003 (Metzgar) – Amends Section 1 of Act 69 of 1967 entitled “An act to validate conveyances and other instruments which have been defectively acknowledged.”

  • The bill was reported out as committed by a unanimous vote of 14 Y – 0 N

House Bill 1665 (Quinn) – Amends Act 164 of 1970, an Act Relating to Indemnification Agreements between Architects, Engineers or Surveyors and Owners, Contractors, Subcontractors or Suppliers, by adding a new section prohibiting certain indemnity clauses in Snow Removal and Ice Control Services Contracts.  

  • A technical amendment was offered that (1) requires an “affirmative” direction not to perform services to trigger the bill’s application and (2) changed the effective date to July 1, 2022 or immediately, whichever is later.  The vote on the amendment was unanimous (14 Y – 0 N).
    • The bill was reported out as amended by a unanimous vote of 14 Y – 0 N.

Senate Bill 845 (Kearney) – Amends the definition of drug paraphernalia contained in the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act to specifically exclude fentanyl test strips utilized for personal use. 

    • The bill was reported out as committed by a unanimous vote of 14 Y – 0 N


The Judiciary Committee met on Wednesday, January 19, 2022 to consider the following bills:

House Bill 979 (Dowling) – The legislation amends Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) and Title 53 (Municipalities) by further providing for the preemption of local firearm ordinances, providing legal standing to challenge local firearm ordinances to membership organizations and non-residents, and expanding the types of relief available to litigants challenging a local firearm ordinance.

  • Senator Collett offered Amendment A03435The amendment removed the language in the bill that provides standing to membership organizations and non-residents as well as the language expanding the remedies available to litigants.  Finally, the amendment provided an exception to the preemption of local ordinances by allowing political subdivisions to pass ordinances prohibiting the possession and transportation of firearms on any property owned, operated or maintained by the political subdivision.
  • The amendment failed on a party-line vote of 5 Y – 9 N.
  • The bill was reported out as committed on a party-line vote of 9 Y – 5 N.

House Bill 1096 (Kauffman) – The legislation amends Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) by providing victims of the sex trade a choice of venue when bringing a civil claim under Section 3051.  Currently, victims of the sex trade are required to bring civil claims in their county of residence.  The legislation would give victims the choice of bringing the claim in their county of residence orin any county where the alleged offense occurred.

  • The bill was reported out as committed by a unanimous vote of 14 Y – 0 N.


The Judiciary Committee held a Confirmation Hearing on Tuesday, November 9, 2021 to consider the following bill:

HB 1255 (Lewis) – Amends Title 42 by adding a new Section 5539 to establish a statute of limitations for civil claims brought against a real estate appraisers related to their professional activities.

  • Baker Amendment (#A02915) – The amendment changes the time limitation from a 1-year statute of limitation and 5-year statute of repose, to a 5-year statute of limitation that begins to run on the date the appraisal occurs.  It specifies that the time frame does not apply if (1) there is evidence of fraud or intentional misrepresentation on the part of the real estate appraiser or (2) the appraisal was performed for a consumer as part of the purchase or sale of single-family residence not involving a lender. Finally, the amendment clarifies that the new section only applies to appraisals conducted after the effective date.

The amendment was adopted by a unanimous vote of 14 Y – 0 N.

  • The bill was reported out as amended by a unanimous vote of 14 Y – 0 N.

The Judiciary Committee held a Confirmation Hearing on Tuesday, October 26, 2021 for two nominees to the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas:

Andrew Bender, Esquire – Appointment as Judge, Court of Common Pleas, Juniata and Perry Counties (Constituent of Senator John DiSanto SD15)

  • Committee voted to favorably recommend confirmation (14 Y- 0 N).

Sabrina Korbel, Esquire – Appointment as Judge, Court of Common Pleas, Allegheny County (Constituent of Senator Lindsay Williams SD38)

  • Committee voted to favorably recommend confirmation (14 Y- 0 N).


Immediately following the Confirmation Hearing, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a voting meeting to consider the following legislation:

HB 930 (Schlegel Culver) – Requires law enforcement to collect and send DNA samples for missing children, high-risk missing persons, and unidentified decedents to the State Police for submission to the DOJ’s National Missing and Unidentified Persons Database (NAMUS).

  • The bill was reported out as committed by a unanimous vote of 14 Y – 0 N.

The Judiciary Committee held a public meeting on Monday, September 20, 2021 to to focus on probation reform issues as well as the recommendations of the County Adult Probation and Parole Advisory Committee:


The Judiciary Committee met on Thursday, June 24, 2021 to consider the following bills:

Confirmation Hearing – Marcus Brown to the Board of Parole.

  • The nomination was recommended by a unanimous vote of 13 Y – 0 N.

SR 146 (Aument) – Authorizes an LBFC study on the statutory caps in sovereign immunity cases.

  • A technical amendment was offered to include the caps on governmental immunity cases in the LBFC Study.  The vote on the amendment was unanimous (13 Y – 0 N).
  • The resolution was reported out as amended by a unanimous vote of 13 Y – 0 N.

SB 565 (Dush) –  Eliminates the requirement to possess a license to carry a concealed firearm and makes other changes to Title 18 Chapter 61 (Firearms and other dangerous articles).

  • The bill was reported out as committed by a party line vote of 8 Y – 5 N.


The Judiciary Committee met on Wednesday, June 23, 2021 to consider the following bills:

HB 1429 amends Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) to establish a new offense relating to the “financial exploitation of older adults and care-dependent persons”.

  • A technical amendment was offered to clarify the grading of offenses under the bill.  The vote on the amendment was unanimous (14 Y – 0 N).
  • The bill was reported out as amended by a unanimous vote of 14 Y – 0 N.

HB 1431 amends Crimes Code to expand the offense of “abuse of a care-dependent person” (18 Pa.C.S. §2713.1).

  • The bill was reported out as committed by a unanimous vote of 14 Y – 0 N.

The Judiciary Committee met on Tuesday, June 22, 2021 to consider the following bills: 

HB 246 (Mihalek) – Applies Pennsylvania Rape Shield Law to human trafficking offenses and precludes admission of victims age to establish a defense of “consent”.

The bill was reported out as committed by a unanimous vote of 14 Y – 0 N.

HB 843 (Rowe) – Adds human trafficking to the list of criminal offenses a judge must consider in awarding custody.

The bill was reported out as committed by a unanimous vote of 14 Y – 0 N.

HB 954 (Stephens) – Amends Title 18 to permit law enforcement agencies to share certain criminal history investigation information related to child abuse with county children and youth services agencies and children advocacy centers.

The bill was reported out as committed by a unanimous vote of 14 Y – 0 N.

HB 1147 (Gaydos) – Expands the list of offenses that require offenders to attend and participate in DOC programing and counseling for incarcerated sex offenders.

The bill was reported out as committed by a unanimous vote of 14 Y – 0 N.


The Judiciary Committee met on Tuesday, June 15, 2021 to consider the following bills: 

Confirmation Hearing – Nomination of Suzanne Estrella to as the Victim Advocate.

The committee recommended her nomination by unanimous vote of 14 Y – 0 N.

House Bill 156 (Owlett) – Raises the age of child witnesses eligible to qualify for the tender years exception to the rule against hearsay from 12 to 16.

The bill was reported out as committed by a unanimous vote of 14 Y – 0 N.

Senate Bill 708 (Bartolotta) – Omnibus update to the Crime Victims Act.  The bill is part of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative ‘s JRI2 legislative package.

An amendment was offered by Senator Haywood to make definitional changes, provide additional protections for the confidentiality of victim information in the possession of the Office of the Victim Advocate, and ensuring that a victim’s identifying information is not subject to the Right-to-Know Law (amendment was adopted unanimously).

The bill was reported out as amended by a unanimous vote of 14 Y – 0 N.

Senate Bill 726 (Phillips-Hill) – Legislation provides criminal penalties for the possession, sale or use of ransomware.  Additionally, the bill imposes guidelines for the handling of ransomware attacks, including restrictions on ransom payments, required notices, and reporting requirements.

The bill was reported out as committed by a vote of 13 Y – 1 N.


The Judiciary Committee met on Tuesday, May 25, 2021 to consider the following bills: 

Senate Bill 305 (Brooks) – Legislation updating the Safe Havens Law to include urgent care centers as entities able to accept a newborn into protective custody.

The bill was reported out as committed by a unanimous vote of 14 Y – 0 N.

Senate Bill 516 (Browne) – Legislation to allow courts to turn unpaid court costs over to collection if a defendant fails to appear for a financial determination hearing.

A technical amendment was offered to change the effective date from 60 days to 120, and to clarify that a court may turn unpaid court costs over to a private collections agencies contracted by the county OR a county collections enforcement unit as provided for under existing statute (the amendment was unanimously adopted).

The bill was reported out as amended by a unanimous vote of 14 Y – 0 N.

Senate Bill 588 (Gordner) – Legislation to address issues raised in a recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision around compulsory joinder in criminal cases, sometimes referred to a statutory double jeopardy (see: Commonwealth v. Johnson).

The bill was reported out as committed by a vote of 13 Y – 1 N.

Senate Bill 703 (Baker) – Legislation amending Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) to expand the offense of Stalking to include Cyberstalking.

The bill was reported out as committed by a unanimous vote of 14 Y – 0 N.

Senate Bill 704 (Baker) – Legislation expanding the offense of institutional sexual assault to include sexual contact between a caretaker and a care-dependent person.

A technical amendment was offered to fix an incorrect reference in the bill (the amendment was unanimously adopted).

The bill was reported out as amended by a unanimous vote of 14 Y – 0 N.


The Judiciary Committee met on Wednesday, April 21, 2021 to consider the following bills:

SB 521 (Mensch) amends Title 18 Pa.C.S. §7507.1 (Invasion of Privacy).  The bill would increase the penalty for an invasion of privacy offence offense under this section if the offender is a teacher/adult and the victim is a student/minor.

The bill was unanimously reported out of committee.

HB 184 (Keefer)  amends Title 18 Pa.C.S. §2505 (Causing or Aiding Suicide) by directing the PA Commission on Sentencing to create a sentencing enhancement if the person who dies by suicide under this section is under the age of 18, has an intellectual disability, or an autism spectrum disorder.

The bill was reported out of committee by a vote of 13 (Y) – 1 (N).

HB 951 (Rozzi) amends Title 42 Pa.C.S. (Judiciary and Judicial Procedures) to provide for a temporary two-year window to bring civil claims for sexual abuse that were previously barred by the statute of limitation and to further provide exceptions to sovereign immunity and governmental immunity for sexual abuse claims.

A00768 further clarified provisions around the temporary two-year window and the expanded the sovereign and governmental immunity exemptions to include sexual abuse claims involving individuals age of 18-23.  The amendment was adopted unanimously.

The amended bill was reported out of committee by a vote of 11 (Y) – 3(N).


The Judiciary Committee met on Tuesday, March 23, 2021 to consider the following bills:

SB 420 (Yaw) amends the County Code by requiring District Attorneys to maintain an active law license throughout their term, and providing for vacancies and the replacement of District Attorneys that have been disbarred or had their law license suspended.

  • A00558 was a technical amendment to clarify the distinction between a vacancy due to disbarment and a temporary replacement due to suspension of a law license.
  • The amended bill was unanimously reported out of committee.

SB 457 (Baker) is a proposed constitutional amendment requiring the Attorney General to maintain an active law license throughout their term, and providing for vacancies and the replacement of an Attorney General that has been disbarred or had their law license suspended.

  • A00557 was a technical amendment to clarify the distinction between a vacancy due to disbarment and a temporary replacement due to suspension of a law license.
  • The amended bill was unanimously reported out of committee

 

The Judiciary Committee met on Tuesday, March 16, 2021 and reported the following:

HB 14 — The bill amends the Pennsylvania Constitution providing for a two-year window reviving claims related to childhood sexual assault.  (Reported as amended 10-4)

A00457 Making the bill and Emergency Joint Resolution and including specific provisions waiving Sovereign Immunity and Damage Caps for government entities. (Adopted 10-4)

SB 137 — Creating the Drug Recognition Expert Training Fund which is paid for by a $5 surcharge on all DUI offenses. Reported as committed Unanimously.

SB 400 — Statutorily merges the Department of Corrections (DOC) and the Board of Probation and Parole (BPP).  Reported as committed Unanimously.


The Judiciary Committee met on Monday, January 25, 2021 to and unanimously reported the following bills:

SB 8 – Sen. Baker Amends Section 11 of Article I of the Pennsylvania Constitution by creating a two-year period in which victims of childhood sexual abuse may commence an action in cases where the statute of limitations period has already expired.

SB 81 – Sen. Langerholc – Amends Section 5920 of Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) to expand the list of offenses in which an expert may testify.

SB 86 – Sen. Martin – Amends Section 2962 of Title 53 by preventing home rule charter counties from modifying the procedure for the filling of vacancies in the office of district attorney.

SB 85 – Sen. Martin – Amends Section 1404 of the Second Class County Code by requiring that vacancies in the office of district attorney be filled by the first assistant district attorney.

SB  84 – Sen. Martin Amends Section 1404 of the County Code by requiring that vacancies in the office of district attorney be filled by the first assistant district attorney.

SB 87 – Sen. Baker/Sen. Arnold  – This legislation amends Titles 18 (Crimes Code), 23 (Family Code), and 42 (Judicial Code) to increase the penalties for those convicted of child pornography, to establish a task force on child pornography and to permit the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing to create a sentencing enhancement for those convicted of the sexual abuse of children, when the victim is known to the defendant.

SB 78 – Sen. Baker/Sen. Santarsiero – Amends Title 23 (Domestic Relations) and Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) regarding the awarding of custody of a child.


Senator Steve Santarsiero

Senator Steve Santarsiero

Committee Chair