Marsico Sees Legislative Progress in House Judiciary Committee
HARRISBURG –Rep. Ron Marsico (R-Dauphin) is pleased that the governor will be signing so many pieces of crucial legislation into law over the next couple of weeks that have passed through the House Judiciary Committee during this legislative session.
“As majority chairman of the Judiciary Committee, I am thrilled to report that the minority chairman of the committee and I, along with all of the committee members, were able to work cohesively over the past two years and pass quite a few critical pieces of legislation out of committee and onto the floor of the House,” said Marsico. “And quite a few of these bills are now being signed into law by the governor.
“We dealt with such issues as human trafficking, sexting, the sale and transfer of firearms, creating the offense of recruiting criminal gang members, reinvesting savings in our criminal justice system, updating Pennsylvania’s Wiretap Act and providing for HIV-related testing for certain sex offenders,” said Marsico.
Studies have shown that Pennsylvania's interstate highway system, truck stops and transient truckers make it a pass-through state for human trafficking. Evidence suggests that Pennsylvania also is a source and destination for victims. Therefore, House Bill 235 was passed to establish the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline Notification Act. The bill will require designated establishments to post at least one sign, in various languages, in a conspicuous manner clearly visible to the public and employees and include the hotline phone number.
Sexting is a phenomenon among teens of transmitting via text message nude photos of themselves or other minors, or photos of any minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct. House Bill 815 makes it a summary offense for a minor to text a self-made sexually explicit image of himself or herself, or to view such an image of another if that other person is a minor aged 12 or older. The offense is then increased if the minor transmits or publishes, through an electronic communication, the image of another minor 12 or older, which he or she has viewed. The offense would be further increased if that publication is intended to harass, intimidate, or cause distress to the minor depicted, or makes or distributes a depiction without the consent of the minor depicted. Under current law, teens could be subject to felony prosecution for these acts.
Straw purchasers significantly contribute to gun violence in Pennsylvania’s towns and cities. Although obtaining or receiving a firearm through a straw purchase is illegal in Pennsylvania, House Bill 898, known as the Brad Fox Law, would close a loophole in the current law that prevented the imposition of an enhanced penalty for second and subsequent offenses. A “straw purchase” occurs when the actual buyer of a firearm uses another person, a “straw purchaser,” to execute the paperwork necessary to purchase a firearm from a federally licensed firearms dealer. This bill would restore a five-year minimum sentence for those convicted of making repeat straw purchases of firearms, a measure that would make Pennsylvania’s streets safer for everyone.
House Bill 135 will reinvest savings from the recently enacted prison reform law, Act 112, and streamline Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency processes. This legislation was a is a key component of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative as it authorizes the reinvestment of 25 percent of the savings under Act 112 to programs that would further help public safety efforts and lower rates of recidivism.
There are strongholds of gangs in the Commonwealth. The influx of these gangs has introduced our state to a entirely different level of violent crimes connected to, but not limited to, drugs. House Bill 1121 makes it a crime to recruit criminal gang members, knowingly inflict bodily injury on another for the purpose of causing them to participate, or remain in a criminal gang and knowingly inflict serious bodily injury on another for the purpose of causing them to participate or remain in a criminal gang.
House Bill 2400, of which Marsico was the prime sponsor, would update the Wiretap Act to include the use of modern technology in order to track and bring to justice the most serious criminals. The act was updated last in 1998. Since then, technology has made historic advances that law enforcement is not able to presently keep up with. In 1998, the use of digital telephony, caller ID, or voice mail was nonexistent. These ways to communicate are now commonplace. Changes in the Wiretap Act are needed to keep one step ahead of criminal defendants that deal drugs, engage in organized crime, intimidate witnesses and victims, possess child pornography and support terrorist activity.
House Bill 1794 addresses HIV testing for persons accused of committing sexual crimes in order for an alleged victim to know whether the alleged offender tests positive for HIV. By passing this bill, Pennsylvania came into compliance with the federal Violence Against Women Act and now qualifies for additional federal grants. In the past five years, Pennsylvania has been disqualified from more than $430,000 in federal grants under the Violence Against Women Act because it did not have a state law allowing for the HIV testing of sexual offenders.
“Needless to say, all of these were huge issues that have, ultimately, provided Pennsylvanians with safer communities in which to live,” said Marsico. “My goal is to put the bad guys in jail and keep them there and protect the residents of the Commonwealth.”
State Representative Ron Marsico
105th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Contact: Autumn Southard