The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 159, which would establish the “Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children Act” in Pennsylvania.  This would allow the state to enter the Interstate Compact with other states to make education more accessible to children of military families and make school transfers and transitions more uniform.

The measure would also establish the State Council on Interstate Educational Opportunity for Military Children.  This council would  make sure that no child of military parents was barred from enrolling in school, graduating, participating in extracurricular activities, receiving credit for classes and receiving special education services as needed by making sure that administrative processes run smoothly. 

The compact is necessary to remove barriers to educational success imposed on children of military families due to frequent moves and deployment.

The measure now goes to the House.

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The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 79 which would amend the Judicial Code to enact the Uniform Interstate Depositions and Discovery Act.

Under Senate Bill 79, litigants can present the clerk of the court located in the state where discoverable materials are sought with a subpoena issued by a court in the state in which the trial is to be held.

Once the clerk receives the foreign subpoena, the clerk would issue a subpoena for service upon the person or entity on which the original subpoena is directed. The terms of the issued subpoena must incorporate the same terms as the original subpoena and contain the contact information for all counsel of record and any party not represented by counsel.

The bill is now in the House Judiciary Committee.

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The Senate passed Senate Bill 273 by a 43-4 vote.  This bill would expand the provision of the so-called “Castle Doctrine” that protects the right of homeowners to use deadly force against intruders in their home and property.

Under current law, homeowners can use deadly force to defend themselves against an intruder while in their living room, dining room, den, kitchen, basement or other area within the house. In other areas, such as a garage, porch, driveway, yard or vehicle, homeowners must first attempt to retreat from the intruder before legally using their weapon to protect themselves.

Senate Bill 273 would eliminate an individual’s duty to retreat before using lethal force outside of his home or vehicle. It would create a presumption that the occupant of a home or vehicle has reasonable belief that the use of deadly force is necessary to protect himself against death, serious bodily injury, kidnapping or rape from an intruder.

The presumption would not apply if the person entering the home or vehicle has a right to be in the home or vehicle; a parent, grandparent or guardian removing a child from the home or vehicle; an on-duty peace officer; or if the person using protective force is engaged in criminal activity or is using his home or vehicle in furtherance of criminal activity.

The bill is now in the House Judiciary Committee.

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The Senate unanimously passed a bill that would outlaw simulcasting of greyhound races to Pennsylvania audiences.  Live greyhound racing is already prohibited in Pennsylvania. 

Senate Bill 71 would expand the prohibition to include television broadcasting of the races for the purposes of wagering.

The bill is now in the House Gaming Oversight Committee.