Marsy’s Law among bills advanced out of committee
– The House Judiciary Committee today voted on legislation aimed at better protecting crime victims from abuse and violence by helping those who are victimized to testify against and confront their abusers, reported Rep. Rob Kauffman (R-Franklin), chairman of the committee. All five bills before the committee were passed onto the full House for consideration.
“This was my first meeting as chairman of the Judiciary Committee and I am pleased we are able to continue the work set into motion by my predecessor, former Rep. Ron Marsico, and make progress on legislation that will assist crime victims in Pennsylvania,” said Kauffman. “These bills were all introduced in the previous session, but there was simply not enough time to get them passed into law. That is why I made the decision to make them the first set of bills the committee would address.”
The bill that were considered and passed by the committee are as follows:
• House Bill 276
(Rep. Sheryl Delozier, R-Cumberland) – A joint resolution, known as Marsy’s Law, which would add a victim’s bill of rights to the Pennsylvania Constitution.
• House Bill 502
(Rep. John Hershey, R-Franklin/Juniata/Mifflin) – Would ensure victims can attend proceedings against their abusers.
• House Bill 503
(Rep. Garth Everett, R-Lycoming/Union) – Would help victims and witnesses with intellectual disabilities or autism testify in court.
• House Bill 504
(Rep. Natalie Mihalek, R-Allegheny/Washington) – Would shield rape victims from irrelevant cross examination.
• House Bill 505
(Kauffman) -- Would strengthen protections for young abuse victims.
“Each of these bills addresses a specific shortcoming in the existing judicial system when it comes to crime victim rights and protections,” said Kauffman. “It is my hope that these bills will be considered in a timely fashion by both the House and Senate and sent to the governor.”
Among the bills voted by the committee was House Bill 276 (Marsy’s Law), which would change the Pennsylvania Constitution to ensure crime victims have the right to receive information about their rights, receive notification of proceedings in their criminal cases, be present at court hearings, be heard at plea and sentencing proceedings, and be treated with fairness, respect and dignity.
Last session, Marsy’s Law passed both chambers of the General Assembly. Identical language, which is contained in House Bill 276, must be passed this session and then approved by voters through a ballot referendum before it can be included in the state Constitution. Pennsylvania is one of only nine state’s without statutory rights for victims in its constitution.
Marsy’s Law is named after Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas of California, who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. One week after Marsy’s death, her mother and brother, Henry Nicholas, walked into a grocery store where they were confronted by the accused murderer. The family was unaware that the accused had been released on bail. To honor his sister, Nicholas has made it his life’s mission to give victims and their families constitutional protections and equal rights.
The House Judiciary Committee, led by Chairman Rob Kauffman (R-Franklin), voted on legislation aimed at better protecting crime victims from abuse and violence by helping those who are victimized to testify against and confront their abusers. All five bills before the committee were passed onto the full House for consideration.
Representative Rob Kauffman
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Tricia Lehman