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This Week in Harrisburg

On Tuesday, I joined a majority of my House colleagues in voting yes on legislation that would downsize Pennsylvania’s General Assembly with the goal of creating a more efficient and effective state government. House Bill 1234 would reduce the number of representatives from 203 to 153, while House Bill 1716 would cut the number of senators from 50 to 38. Both bills now head to the Senate for consideration.

House passage of the legislation is just the start of a lengthy process, which requires that the state Constitution be amended. Such amendments must pass two consecutive sessions of the General Assembly, and then be placed on the ballot as referendum questions to be approved or disapproved by voters. Learn more.
 
The first in a series of child protection bills approved by the General Assembly were signed into law by the governor on Wednesday. The new laws 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.

The measures were based on recommendations from the Task Force on Child Protection created in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State. The task force 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. Learn more.
 
Pennsylvania’s Megan’s Law was not affected by this week’s state Supreme Court ruling that a prior version of the law was unconstitutional because its enactment violated the single subject rule. In order to comply with new federal requirements, the Legislature worked in 2011 to modernize our state’s version of Megan’s Law. That legislation replaced the law that was before the court.

Because of the proactive work of the Legislature, executive branch and law enforcement stakeholders, virtually nothing has changed with regard to the registration requirements for those who commit sex offenses. Rest assured that Pennsylvania will continue to have one of the strongest Megan’s Laws in the country. 
  
The 2014 Pennsylvania Farm Show will be held Jan. 4-11 at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center in Harrisburg. It is the largest indoor agricultural exhibition in the United States, running for eight days and featuring 6,000 animals, 10,000 competitive exhibits and 300 commercial exhibitors. Admission is free, but there is a $10 charge for parking and shuttle service. Learn more

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