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The Senate unanimously approved legislation that will allow victims of sexual abuse to file for court-ordered protection regardless of whether a criminal case is prosecuted.

Under prior law, orders of protection were available to sexual assault victims only if a criminal case has been initiated.  Supporters of the bill noted that only a fraction of sexual assaults are reported to authorities and even when victims report, many cases are not prosecuted because of the burden of proof or problems with evidence.

Senate Bill 681 allows a court to order a defendant from having any contact with the victim directly or through a third party. This same protection is currently available to victims of domestic violence.

The bill was signed into law as Act 25 of 2014.


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By a vote of 42-4, the Senate passed a bill that would create a new community college to cover rural northern counties of the state.  Opponents of Senate Bill 1000  said the expansion of the current system of community colleges should have been considered as a cost effective option.

El proyecto de ley pasa ahora a la Cámara.


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The Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 1197, another bill in a series targeted at juvenile justice reform.  The bill would clarify specific time periods and requirements for expunging juvenile summary offense records.

The bill is part of the implementation of a statewide juvenile case management system being developed by the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts within the Common Pleas Case Management System where all juvenile delinquency cases will be managed

It now goes to the house.


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The Senate unanimously passed legislation that would set guidelines on how a “college” can become designated as a “university.”

 Senate Bill 1205 would allow private non-profit institutions with the authority to confer bachelor’s degrees or graduate degrees to change their designation by submitting a notarized affidavit and supporting documentation that the institution:

  • declares that it fulfills at least two of the three units required to become a university
  • commits to meet the additional unit within five years,
  • has been in continuous operation in Pennsylvania for 10 years,
  • maintains good standing, compliance and accreditation with the appropriate      accreditation body, and
  • provides that the institution’s board of trustees has approved the change in      designation.

The three units required for a college to become a university:

  1. At least one undergraduate major in both the arts and the sciences
  2. Advanced degree programs in the arts and sciences with at least one major in both arts and sciences at the undergraduate level
  3. Any combination of at least five advanced degrees or professional programs at the graduate level.

This bill would also allow a “trade school” to change its designation to “college” if it holds a certificate of authority to confer, at the minimum, associate degrees in specialized technology and is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges.

El proyecto de ley pasa ahora a la Cámara.


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The Senate voted 46-0 on Senate Bill 874, which would change Pennsylvania’s Public School Code to allow community college-sponsoring school districts more flexibility in paying their annual financial contributions to the schools.

Currently, only Harrisburg Area Community College would be affected by the bill, thus allowing HACC’s sponsoring school districts to negotiate a more affordable funding level and payments.

The bill is now with the House Education Committee for its consideration.


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The Senate voted 46-0 to approve Senate Bill 1037. The proposed law would eliminate the requirement for a special kind of gasoline in seven southwestern Pennsylvania counties.

The Air Pollution Control Act currently mandates that low Reid Vapor Pressure gasoline, or “summer gasoline,” be sold in Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, and Washington counties.

The requirement has been in place since 1998, but it has forced higher gas prices for this brand of “boutique fuel.” Supporters contend the demand for RVP gasoline is low and equates to a hidden tax that is not required anywhere else in the state.

Senate Bill 1037 is now in the House.


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The Senate unanimously approved House Bill 770, which allows for the creation of an Appalachian Trail license plate for cars and trucks not more than 14,000 pounds or a motor home.

Proceeds from the new plate will be used by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy for trail maintenance and improvements.

The governor signed SB 770 into law as Act 23 of 2014.


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            The Senate unanimously approved House Bill 316, which would reform the state’s child protective services law.

Another in a series of bills that responded to the Jerry Sandusky scandal, the bill would strengthen child advocacy centers (CACs) throughout Pennsylvania. The measure would increase fees on birth certificates from $10 to $20 and use the increased funding to:

  • (Fiscal 2014-2015) train mandated reporters;
  • (Fiscal 2015-2016 and on) 25 percent of the money would be used to train mandated reporters, and 75 percent would be used as grants for CACs and Multidisciplinary Investigative Teams.

The bill would also direct Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) to establish a Child Advocacy Advisory Committee with up to 21 members. The measure would also require the commission to consider specific criteria for awarding grants.

El proyecto de ley vuelve ahora a la Cámara.


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            The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 895, which limits the terms of state Game Commission members.

The measure reduces the term for members of the Game Commission’s Board of Commissioners from 8 to 4 years, and provides for a maximum of three terms (12 years).

The bill also allows commissioners to serve no more than three consecutive terms. As amended, it limits the time a commissioner can serve past their date of departure to six months while a replacement is sought.

In addition, the bill changes the Senate’s Game Commission confirmation language from a two-thirds vote (prompted by an Administrative Code action) back to the majority vote that was in place up until six years ago.

The bill was enacted as Act 26 of 2014.


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With one of the most brutal winters in memory finally waning, the Senate unanimously approved a bill that would give schools more flexibility to make up time missed as a result of weather emergencies.

Senate Bill 1281 would allow schools to calculate the school year on an hourly, rather than daily basis. The legislation would also permit districts to hold class on one Saturday per month to make up missed school days.

The bill was patterned from a previous weather emergency bill in 1996 that responded to severe flooding in northwestern Pennsylvania.

The measure, which is supported by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, now goes to the House.


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