In this Update:
Senator Regan Stands Up for Crime Victims in Judiciary Committee
This week the Senate Judiciary Committee, of which I am a member, took up several pieces of legislation, and I was pleased to support most of the bills, which strengthen and improve our justice system. However, I expressed concerns over one bill that, while well-intentioned, does not address an underlying issue that contributes to the fact that it often takes crime victims years to recover restitution from those convicted of crimes against them.
Senate Bill 1208 is a new version of Senate Bill 516, which Governor Wolf vetoed last year based on opponents’ claims that it was unfair to defendants. The premise is to allow the courts to send debts owed by defendants to collection agencies. This includes court costs, fees, and restitution owed to victims. Again, the premise is good – allowing this step takes the workload off of the courts and puts it into the hands of an entity that can focus on recouping those funds. Unfortunately, SB 1208 allows a defendant to seek a new financial determination hearing to assess their ability to pay with no mandate for them to obtain employment. While restitution cannot be waived, there is no incentive for the defendant to work towards actually paying that money.
Therefore, I voted against SB 1208 because it fails to protect crime victims and their right to recover restitution. As a 23-year federal law enforcement veteran prioritizing the defendant over the crime victim is very disconcerting.
Click here to watch the full committee meeting and to read about the other bills that the committee advanced this week.
Regan Meets with Electrical Contractors at Capitol
On Tuesday, I had the pleasure of meeting with electrical contractor representatives from the 31st Senatorial District and other areas of the Commonwealth to discuss issues of importance to their industry.
Senate Approves Poll Watcher Empowerment Act to Increase Election Oversight, Integrity
The Senate approved the Poll Watcher Empowerment Act to ensure election laws are strictly adhered to and improve confidence in Pennsylvania’s elections.
Senate Bill 573 would allow all registered Pennsylvania voters to be eligible to be a poll watcher in any precinct in the state and ensures poll watchers can clearly observe the pre-canvassing and counting of all ballots.
The bill would stiffen penalties against any election official who blocks, impedes or otherwise intimidates a poll watcher on Election Day. It would not change any duties, powers or responsibilities of poll watchers. Senate Bill 573 was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
The bill is the third election integrity measure passed by the Senate this year, along with the elimination of controversial ballot drop boxes and prohibiting third-party funding of elections.
Senate Acts to Protect Women’s Sports
The Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, which protects the integrity of women’s sports in Pennsylvania, was approved by the Senate. The bill advances to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Bill 1191 states that school athletic teams designated for women should not be open to those of the male sex. The bill defines “sex” as the biological distinction between male and female, based on reproductive biology and genetic make-up.
The bill was introduced earlier this year after concerns grew about preserving the increased athletic opportunities female students have gained since Title IX was enacted 50 years ago next week.
Joint Hearing on Government Data Breach Notification
Legislation requiring timely notification to victims of a state or local government data breach was the topic of a joint Senate/House public hearing.
The Senate Communications and Technology Committee and the House State Government Subcommittee on Government Information Technology and Communication held the gathering to review Senate Bill 696.
The panels heard from representatives of the Department of General Services, the State Privacy and Security Coalition, and the Cybersecurity Association of Pennsylvania. You can view the hearing and read testimony here.
Give Blood in honor of World Blood Donor Day
“Each year on June 14, the American Red Cross joins blood collection organizations around the world to celebrate World Blood Donor Day, which recognizes the importance of a safe and stable blood supply and the donors who make it possible. Nearly 2.5 million people volunteer to give lifesaving blood and platelets every year with the Red Cross, and Cumberland and York Counties are the leaders in Central PA for blood donations.
Blood donations decline in late spring and early summer, but the need for blood and platelet transfusions doesn’t take a summer break. Eligible donors are encouraged to make an appointment to give blood or platelets this month, and you can do so by downloading the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
Scammers are Stealing Military Pensions
Pennsylvania veterans and their advocates should be aware of an increase in scammers looking to poach VA pensions, warns the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA).
“Pension poaching” occurs when scammers or dishonest financial planners charge veterans or their beneficiaries for help in applying for or submitting applications for VA pensions. The scheme often involves financial maneuvers such as advising claimants to hide their assets in trusts or annuity products sometimes resulting in lost investments and lucrative fees paid to the advisor.
The DMVA says veterans and their advocates should remember to never share their VA login information, or deposit VA benefits directly into a third-party bank account unless the person is court appointed or a VA accredited fiduciary. More on avoiding pension poaching, and what to do if you know someone who was targeted, can be found here.
National Fishing and Boating Week
Pennsylvania has multiple settings for fishing and boating, whether you’re an expert or a beginner.
HuntFishPA.com is a good place to start to find out what you need to enjoy angling. The PA Fish and Boat Commission can help you find the best waters for fishing and information on fishing licenses, fishing seasons and more.
Boating Safety Education Certificates are required to operate a personal watercraft and for persons born on or after Jan. 1, 1982, to operate boats powered by motors greater than 25 horsepower. People who successfully complete an approved boating course are issued a Boating Safety Education Certificate good for a lifetime.