HARRISBURG – Rep. Rob Kauffman (R-Franklin), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, today led a voting meeting of the committee in which several bills were approved to help further protect children in the Commonwealth.
“One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is when we get to pass legislation that makes a real difference in the lives of those most vulnerable in our society – children,” said Kauffman. “Making sure our kids are protected and those who would harm them are held accountable is important work that the Judiciary Committee has made a priority.”
House Bill 97
, authored by Rep. Kathy Rapp of Warren, Crawford and Forest counties, would amend the state Crimes Code by adding “electronic nicotine delivery systems” (ENDS) to the sections that currently make it illegal to sell tobacco products to minors, and for students to use tobacco products on school grounds.
“With vaping gaining popularity among Pennsylvania youth, this is an important bill to help curb nicotine use and treat these products the same as we do other nicotine products,” said Kauffman.
House Bill 279
, by Rep. Karen Boback of Luzerne, Lackawanna and Wyoming counties, would provide civil immunity for any damage that may be done to a vehicle when forceful entry is necessary to rescue a child. The immunity would only apply when the person acts reasonably under the circumstances: He or she must have a good faith belief that the child is in imminent danger of suffering harm, and must have determined that the vehicle is locked and there is otherwise no reasonable method for the child to be removed. Also, prior to forcibly entering the vehicle, the person must have contacted or attempted to contact law enforcement.
House Bill 288
, also know as Caylee’s Law, would increase the penalty for concealing the death of a child from a first-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony, punishable by up to seven years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $15,000.
The bill also would clarify that the person who can be charged with this offense could be a parent, an individual residing in the same household as the child, or an individual responsible for the child’s welfare. The word “parent” would be defined as a natural parent, stepparent, adoptive parent, guardian or an individual involved in an intimate relationship with the child’s parent. House Bill 288 was authored by Rep. Justin Simmons of Lehigh, Montgomery and Northampton counties.
House Bill 315
, by Rep. Thomas Murt of Montgomery and Philadelphia counties, would establish the offense of female genital mutilation (FGM). FGM involves the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia for non-medical reasons. The procedure is almost always carried out on minors and is a violation of the rights of children.
The World Health Organization estimates that 140 million women and children worldwide have been affected by female genital cutting. According to the AHA Foundation, more than 19,000 women in Pennsylvania are at risk of this barbaric procedure, with 6,000 of them under the age 18.
“These bills are each aimed at helping us better protect the lives and welfare of children here in the Commonwealth,” said Kauffman. “I am hopeful the full House acts swiftly in bringing these bills up for a vote.”
The committee also approved House Bill 332
, by Rep. Seth Grove of York County, which allows the Superior Court to create a Commerce Court program modeled after a successful program in Philadelphia; and Senate Bill 113, by Sen. John DiSanto of Dauphin and Perry counties, which would require the forfeiture of pension benefits for public employees who are convicted or plead guilty or no contest to any job-related felony offense.
All six bills now go to the full House for consideration.
Representative Rob Kauffman
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Tricia Lehman
Rep. Rob Kauffman (R-Franklin), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, led a voting meeting of the committee in which several bills were approved to help further protect children in the Commonwealth.