Following is a listing of legislative action for the week of March 4. Members of the General Assembly were set to return to session on March 11.
Legislation introduced in the state House of Representatives would increase the penalties for a DUI offense that results in injury or property damage in cases where the driver was previously convicted for homicide by vehicle while driving drunkenly.
The sponsor of the bill, state Representative Keith Gillespie, R-York, said HB 400 stems from an incident in his district a few years ago that involved a drunken driving death. It was the second offense for the perpetrator.
“Until we can change the mentality of those who believe it is OK to consume alcohol and get behind the wheel, we must deal with those who are already guilty of doing so and make this behavior a deterrent,” Gillespie said.
The legislation would upgrade the penalty to a maximum seven years’ imprisonment and $15,000 fine.
Under a bill introduced by state Senator John Eichelberger, R-Blair, no state law enforcement resources would be permitted to help federal authorities enforce any new gun law passed by Congress.
A Senate aide explained that the measure would bar the use of state resources to enforce federal limitations on the purchase of guns and ammunition, but would not apply to federally mandated background checks, if they should become law.
“The law would hold for any limit to the kind and number of firearms and amount of ammunition,” said Senate aide Lee Derr. “It would not hold if they make changes in other parts of the law like background checks.”
Eichelberger said in a statement that Pennsylvania’s provisions regarding the right to bear arms predate the U.S. Constitution. Pennsylvania recognized the right to bear arms in the state constitution of 1776. By the time the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was adopted as part of the Bill of Rights in 1791, Pennsylvania had already reaffirmed the right to bear arms as a fundamental individual freedom, Eichelberger said.
POWER OF ATTORNEY
The state House Aging and Older Adult Services Committee was scheduled to vote today on legislation, HB 130, that would empower local agencies on aging to investigate the agents of powers of attorney when there is reason to believe the elderly person being represented is being exploited.
The measure aims to broaden the definition of exploitation under the Older Adults Protective Services Act to include an individual acting under a power of attorney.
The sponsor of the bill, state Representative Kevin Haggerty, D-Lackawanna, said too many seniors are being manipulated by their agents.
“Investigations into such abuses through powers of attorney are already complicated, and it’s my intent with this bill to give those investigators some much-needed teeth to stop these crimes,” Haggerty said.