Jun. 17, 2015

HARRISBURG – Rep. Doyle Heffley (R-Carbon) today released the following statement explaining his vote against legislation that aims to address unintended consequences created by Pennsylvania’s child protection laws but would exempt college and university employees from the background check requirements:

“In response to atrocities committed on a university campus here in the Commonwealth, the General Assembly commissioned a Task Force on Child Protection to issue recommendations on how to better protect Pennsylvania’s children from the horrors of physical and sexual abuse. Those recommendations were then included in a comprehensive legislative package that was passed into law last session.

“As the laws began to take effect, it became increasingly clear that the General Assembly needed to revisit them to clarify definitions and, in some instances, make the requirements less onerous.

“I am disappointed that, in the process of cleaning up the laws to ensure that they achieve their intended purpose of protecting our kids in a manner that is not prohibitively costly to our valued volunteers, an amendment was added that exempts college and university employees from the background check requirements. By exempting the very people these laws were initially intended to cover, this amendment rolls back important protections that were included in the original laws.

“Now, while mothers who volunteer to prepare food at their local church or people who volunteer to teach youth fire programs will still be subjected to the background check requirements, paid professors and other staff at universities and colleges will not. I do not believe in creating a two-tier system. College and university employees should be subjected to the same rules as everyone else under these laws.

“Our initial intention was to protect young people from child predators. With the amendment that was added Tuesday, House Bill 1276 now protects an elite class of college and university professionals who are not subject to the same background check requirements as our volunteers and kindergarten-12th grade teachers.

“If the Senate could amend House Bill 1276 to remove the exemption for college and university employees, I would gladly vote for it. The legislation as it currently reads, however, sends the wrong message to Pennsylvania residents that we value the concerns of a few privileged, paid professionals over those of our volunteers and the protection of our children.”

Representative Doyle Heffley
122nd District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Jonathan Anzur
RepHeffley.com / Facebook.com/RepHeffley