Dec. 19, 2019 / Weekly Roundup

 
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Weekly Roundup
#Listrak\DateStampLong# The latest news from the State Capitol
 
My Bills to Honor Local Veterans Passed Committee

The House Transportation Committee unanimously approved two bills I drafted that would honor two local veterans for their service to the country.

House Bill 2116 would designate a bridge on the portion of State Route 669 that crosses the Casselman River in Somerset County as the Sgt. Stephen M. Minick Memorial Bridge.

A native of Salisbury, Minick gave his life in service to his country during the Vietnam War. He was a light weapons infantryman and served with A Company, 4th Battalion, 503rd Infantry, 173rd Airborne Brigade. He was awarded the Purple Heart, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Parachutist Badge, the National Defense Service Medal, the Distinguished Unit Citation, the Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation and the Good Conduct Medal.

House Bill 2117 would designate a bridge on the portion of State Route 2004 that carries Broadway Street over the Casselman River in Somerset County as the Airman Michael L. Menser Memorial Bridge.

A native of Boynton, Menser served on the U.S.S. Forrestal as a U.S. Naval Reservist. On July 29, 1967, the U.S.S. Forrestal suffered a catastrophic fire during flight operations while on Yankee Station off the coast of Vietnam. During the fire, Airman Menser fought the fire and controlled the damage. He was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal for his exemplary service and bravery.

After receiving support from the House committee, both bills move to the full House for consideration.
 
 
Celebrating Young Minds Excelling in STEM Education

I attended the Williams Fay-West-Greene Mechanical Design Competition at Penn State Fayette. I was able to view firsthand how the innovative, young minds worked together to create a mechanical lift that moves an object from one place to another. This is an amazing event that promotes science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education for students across the area, including school districts in Fayette, Westmoreland, Greene and Armstrong counties.

                                     
 
House to Take Up ‘Smart Justice’ Initiative


The House returns to session next week with a number of items on the agenda, including a package of bills aimed at reforming our criminal justice system.

The “Smart Justice” initiative, which advanced through the House Judiciary Committee earlier this week, seeks to reform Pennsylvania’s probation and parole system, reduce recidivism, and help formerly incarcerated individuals find jobs that will help them avoid some of the pitfalls that keep many in the state’s penal system.

Pennsylvania has the second-highest percentage of citizens on probation or parole in the country, and our prison population has increased by approximately 850% during the past 40 years at a cost of $2.4 billion per year to taxpayers. A recent study of information from the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections showed that nearly one-third of prison beds were occupied by people who violated terms of their probation or parole.

Our goal is to strike a balance between ensuring people are held responsible for their actions while also removing barriers for people looking to rebuild their lives once they have served their time. We are working to keep our communities safe while also looking to protect taxpayers by supporting people who want to be productive members of our society.

Learn more about the measures we will be considering in the House next week here.
 
 
Working Together to Strengthen Juvenile Justice, Outcomes

Working to boost public safety and accountability, and improve outcomes for Pennsylvania’s youth, state legislative leaders, justices and the governor joined together this week to announce a new interbranch effort to improve our juvenile justice system.

The newly formed Pennsylvania Juvenile Justice Task Force is charged with delivering data-driven policy recommendations to state leaders in a report by Nov. 30, 2020. The recommendations will form the basis for statutory, budgetary and administrative changes during the 2021-22 Legislative Session.

Despite efforts through entities such as the Juvenile Court Judges Commission and the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, the Commonwealth has one of the highest rates of juvenile commitment in the nation. The task force will work to address current challenges to improve the system.

The members of the task force, to be appointed by the three branches of state government, will represent a wide range of stakeholder groups that include legislators, law enforcement, judges, district attorneys and public defenders. The task force will receive technical assistance from The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Crime and Justice Institute.
 
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Email Address: MDowling@pahousegop.com
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