House committee works to hold criminals accountable

HARRISBURG – The House Judiciary Committee met this week to advance several key bills to hold criminals accountable for their actions and better protect child testifiers, said Rep. Rob Kauffman (R-Franklin), chairman of the committee.

“All but one of these bills were approved by the House last session but, unfortunately, they did not make it out of the Senate before session ended. Therefore, we must start over, which is why we are moving so quickly to get these important bills before the full House and on to the Senate as soon as possible,” said Kauffman.

The committee considered and approved the following bills:

House Bill 103 – Would create the offense of harassment of a law enforcement officer if a person intentionally causes or attempts to cause a law enforcement officer to come into contact with blood, seminal fluid, saliva, urine or feces by throwing, tossing, spitting or expelling such fluid or material.      

House Bill 146 – Would preclude the paroling of an inmate at the expiration of his or her minimum sentence if the inmate was convicted of a “violent offense” or an “obstruction of justice offense” while incarcerated.  

House Bill 156 – Would amend the Tender Years Hearsay Act to permit the court to allow introduction of hearsay statements made by children 16 years of age or younger concerning violent or sexual offenses.

House Bill 163 – Would increase the grading for a conviction of invasion of privacy if the offender is a teacher and the victim is a student or if the offender is an adult and the victim is a minor.    

House Bill 184 – Would add a sentencing enhancement for a conviction of causing or aiding in suicide when the person who commits suicide is a minor or has an intellectual disability or autism spectrum disorder. 

House Bill 185 – Would provide that a person is guilty of aggravated assault, a second-degree felony, if he or she attempts to cause or intentionally or knowingly causes bodily injury to a person with a physical disability, intellectual disability or autism spectrum disorder.  

 “Unfortunately, many of the bills we voted on today were created in response to actual crimes that took place here in Pennsylvania,” said Kauffman. “Stronger laws and penalties will help deter criminal behavior and ensure those who harm others are punished appropriately, thereby protecting the public and those who are charged with enforcing the laws.

“House Bill 156 is another important bill that takes into account the young age of some testifiers and the impact on them emotionally and psychologically when having to testify in open court against their perpetrators,” said Kauffman.

Each of the bills listed above was approved by the committee and now goes to the full House for consideration.