Following is a listing of executive and legislative action from the week of April 8. Both houses of the General Assembly were in recess at press time. The state House of Representatives was set to reconvene Monday. The Pennsylvania Senate is scheduled to return to session April 29.
Two related bills designed to help victims of child sexual abuse are moving ahead in the Pennsylvania Legislature and could pass the state House in the coming days, The Associated Press reported.
The House Judiciary Committee voted overwhelmingly Monday for a bill that would eliminate the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse crimes and for a constitutional amendment that would permit child sexual abuse lawsuits that would otherwise be outdated during a two-year period.
Both measures are widely supported in the House, but the state Senate’s Republican majority blocked similar legislation last year.
Constitutional amendments must pass both chambers in two consecutive two-year sessions and then be approved by voters.
A state grand jury report last year concluded about 300 Roman Catholic priests had abused more than 1,000 children over seven decades.
Lt. Gov. John Fetterman announced April 8 that he had appointed Brandon Flood, a former public policy professional and legislative aide, as the new secretary of the Board of Pardons.
The Associated Press reported that Flood, who spent nine years in prison after being convicted of possession with intent to deliver cocaine and a firearms violation, received a pardon several weeks ago from Gov. Tom Wolf.
Flood said he wanted to reassure victims and those who advocate for them about his appointment, the AP reported.
“The integrity of the clemency process will not be diminished in any way, shape or form,” Flood said at the announcement, adding that he knew firsthand “what it’s like to bear that scarlet letter of conviction on your sleeve.”
Flood said the pardons process can be streamlined and he wants to improve public awareness, while other reforms will require legislative approval in the Republican-controlled General Assembly, the AP reported.
As lieutenant governor, Fetterman serves as the chairman of the five-member board, which also includes Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a corrections expert, a psychiatrist and a victim representative. The board secretary does not vote.
A pro-free market think tank said Pennsylvania is losing residents because of its tax burden in a press release April 11 in advance of the tax filing deadline and what it called “Tax Freedom Day,” or the symbolic date approximating the time workers need to satisfy their tax obligations.
The Commonwealth Foundation said in a report that “Pennsylvanians should recognize that our tax structure has not kept up with the demands of a 21st century economy,” with the median Pennsylvania family, the group said, spending 14 percent of its income in what it said were more than three dozen state and local taxes.
“For too long, policy-makers have relied on new or increased taxes to patch Pennsylvania’s fiscal potholes,” said Commonwealth Foundation vice president and COO Nathan Benefield. “Now, our complicated tax system is suppressing what could otherwise be a nation-leading economy.” From 1992, the group said, the state has lost more than 300,000 residents to out-migration, outpacing in-migration.