In this Update:
Op-Ed: 90% of Pennsylvanians Agree, Time is now to Legalize Adult-Use Marijuana
This week I wrote another Op-Ed about why I support legalizing adult-use marijuana and how I have arrived at that position, beginning with my efforts to champion medical marijuana starting as a member of the House of Representatives in 2013 and seeing it through to passage in 2016.
But I am not alone in my support, as evidenced by a recent study in which 90% of Pennsylvanians recognize that the status quo of marijuana prohibition is not the right path for the Commonwealth.
Regan’s Law and Justice Committee Approves Four Bills
This week, as Chairman of the Senate Law and Justice Committee, I convened a meeting for the consideration of several bills that seek to make our communities safer and more aware of the challenges facing some of our must vulnerable neighbors. All four bills advanced out of committee unanimously.
First, we approved Senate Bill 24, legislation that would require PennDOT to establish and maintain a notification system that alerts repair shops when a vehicle has been involved in a hit-and-run accident that causes serious bodily injury or death. The bill is nicknamed “Jay Alerts” in honor of 8-year-old Jayanna Powell, who died in a hit-and-run collision in West Philadelphia in 2016. A body shop owner recognized the involved vehicle from news reports and turned in the driver for the crime.
Senate Bill 750 would authorize the Pennsylvania State Police to create a public notification system for at-risk veterans who go missing, called “Green Alert.” Senate Bill 1180 creates a similar system for missing adults with Alzheimer’s, dementia or other permanent cognitive impairment, called “Silver Alert.”
Finally, we approved a Senate Bill 1037, a proposal I sponsored that would move the Coroners’ Education and Training Board from its current location within the Office of the Attorney General to the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD).
These four bills improve the quality and safety of life in Pennsylvania and I look forward to their consideration in the full Senate soon.
Senate Highlights Carlisle High School Junior Hazel Bomar
This week I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Hazel Bomar, a junior at Carlisle High School, when she shadowed fellow Senator Devlin Robinson (R-37) at the Capitol during Tuesday’s busy session day.
Hazel is an active and bright student who has visited nine countries, including the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, and served as a delegate at the model UN Conference held in New York City last year. She serves on the class council and the environmentalist green club and is a member of the National Society of High School Scholars and the Carlisle chapter of the National Honor Society.
After graduation, Hazel hopes to pursue college degrees in political science and U.S. History. She is among the best and brightest of the next generation and I am honored to represent her in Harrisburg.
Click here to watch Senator Robinson’s introduction of Hazel on the Senate floor.
Regan Welcomes School Group to the Capitol
I always enjoy meeting so many wonderful students as they make their trips to the Capitol building. This week, I had the pleasure of welcoming students from Silver Spring Elementary School.
Judiciary Committee Advances Bills Enhancing Victim Protections
The Senate Judiciary Committee, of which I am a member, approved four bills this week that strengthen protections for victims of crime in Pennsylvania, including:
These bills now move to the full Senate for consideration.
State Court Blocks Gov. Wolf’s $781 Million Carbon Tax Pending Further Order
In a win for Pennsylvania consumers and workers, Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court this week ruled Gov. Tom Wolf’s $781 million carbon tax could not take effect pending a full order from the court.
The ruling came a day after Republicans stood united in an attempt to override the governor’s veto of the resolution that disapproves of Pennsylvania joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). The effort came up one vote short when Democrats voted against the state’s economic interests in favor of a policy that will spike residential electricity bills 30% and kill 22,000 jobs.
Just last week, impartial analysis from the Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) concluded RGGI could nearly quadruple new electricity costs for consumers above the administration’s own year-old projections for the program. The IFO also warned members “those costs would be pushed through to final customers.”
As for environmental benefits, multiple independent reports show emissions from Pennsylvania’s power sector declined at a comparable rate to the other 10 RGGI states over the last decade.
The Wolf Administration is attempting to enter this pact through the regulatory process without the approval of the legislature. Every other participating state entered RGGI through the legislative process – not unilateral executive action. A bipartisan majority of legislators has consistently voted against RGGI when the issue has been brought to the floor for a vote.
Senate Votes to Expand Sexual Assault Law to Cover Crimes Against Care-Dependent Pennsylvanians
The Senate voted to expand the law against institutional sexual assault to include assaults by caregivers on care-dependent individuals, closing a loophole that allows perpetrators to escape punishment.
Current law against sexual assault applies to institutions such as prisons, schools and law enforcement. It is premised on the fact that truly consensual sexual acts are not possible where someone is in a position of power over another.
Passage of Senate Bill 704 recognizes the same power disparity exists between caretakers and those in their care. Such individuals face additional challenges to reporting sexual abuse due to the circumstances that make them dependent upon others, including physical or cognitive disabilities, and mental and physical health struggles.
Expanding the law against institutional sexual assault eliminates the loophole that permits perpetrators to falsely claim the victim consented. Senate Bill 704 will be sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Observing Sexual Assault Awareness Month
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Expanding the law against institutional sexual assault is just the latest action taken by the General Assembly to stand together against this vile crime.
In recent years, lawmakers enacted measures strengthening the rights of sexual assault survivors and bolstering their ability to obtain justice.
Need help? Call 800-656-HOPE (4673) to be connected with a trained staff member from a local sexual assault service provider.
Safe Exchange Zones Could Come to More PA Communities with Senate Vote
Legislation to create a grant program to establish Safe Exchange Zones throughout Pennsylvania was approved by the Senate and sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Bill 881 would provide a safe area for individuals to exchange goods bought and sold through an online marketplace, as well as serving as a safe place for child custody exchanges, among other practices.
The Safe Exchange Zones would be voluntary and require the agreement of the participating law enforcement agencies. The zones would be equipped with video surveillance and are either within 100 feet of a law enforcement office or located near a public area with an active public presence. Passage came a year to the day that Cambria County resident Denise Williams was murdered after she attempted to finalize the purchase of an item found through Facebook Marketplace.
Saturday is National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day
It’s commemorated on April 9 because that day in 1942 was the prelude to the Bataan Death March in the Philippines, the forcible transfer by the Imperial Japanese Army of up to 80,000 American and Filipino prisoners of war. Up to 650 American and 10,000 Filipino soldiers died during the brutal, 65-mile march.
We must never forget the ordeal faced by prisoners of war during captivity and the emotional toll on those fortunate enough to survive.