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Robert Tommy Tomlinson
Senate Passes Package of Bills to Protect Crime Victims
In recognition of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, the Pennsylvania Senate passed a package of bills today designed to protect crime victims and ensure they have more opportunities to participate in the judicial process.
The package of bills includes measures to give crime victims more rights to attend criminal trials; expand the rights of individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism to provide testimony; provide hearsay exceptions for statements made by young witnesses of cases of sexual assault; shield rape victims against irrelevant cross examinations; and provide for a bill of rights for sexual assault survivors.
In too many cases, the rights of accused criminals are given far greater consideration than the rights of victims. These bills represent a strong step toward balancing the scales of justice and closing dangerous loopholes that threaten the ability of judges and prosecutors to hold criminals accountable for their actions.
The package of bills includes:
SB 399, which creates a comprehensive bill of rights in Pennsylvania for survivors of sexual assault, including rights pertaining to the collection and use of evidence.
SB 425, which would amend the Pennsylvania Crime Victims Act to ensure a victim has a right not to be excluded from a trial except in extraordinary circumstances.
SB 431, which would prevent many sexual assault survivors from facing questions during cross examination about times they were victimized previously, such as child abuse or assaults.
SB 469, which would apply the existing Tender Years Exception – which allows certain out-of-court statements to be admissible as evidence – to include individuals with intellectual disabilities or autism.
SB 479, which would expand the Tender Years Exception to apply to a wider variety of crimes, including serious sexual offenses. This exception currently only applies in cases of homicide, assault, kidnapping, burglary, robbery, and a narrow number of sexual offenses.
The bills were sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Great American Cleanup is Underway
The Great American Cleanup is underway across Pennsylvania through May 31.
If your cleanup group registers to pick up trash between April 13 and May 6, you’ll have access to reduced or free trash disposal. Last year, nearly 130,000 volunteers removed more than 7.2 million pounds of trash from PA roads, shorelines and trails.
What to Know about Flooding
Flooding is the most common natural disaster in Pennsylvania. If you live near a river or stream, it’s important to know the terms.
For example, a flood ‘watch’ means that flooding may occur. Residents should stay alert, closely monitor rivers and streams, and be prepared to move to high ground quickly. A flood ‘warning’ means that there is actual flooding. Residents should act at once and move to high ground.
You can learn more about flooding, and how to reduce your risk, here.
How to Access Nearly All PennDOT Forms, Publications & Maps
Applications for disability placards, commercial learner’s permits and more can be accessed via a searchable list of nearly all of PennDOT forms, publications and maps.
From “Accident Reports” to “Window Tint Fact Sheet” and topics in between. You can filter results by “Document Type” and “Topic
April 7-14 is National Volunteer Week
Some of the most inspiring work that takes place in our communities is only possible thanks to the dedicated efforts of volunteers. The impact of volunteer service will be celebrated during National Volunteer Week from April 7 through 14.
You can learn more about ways that every person can make a difference here.
Senate Approves Measure to Prevent Child Heatstroke Deaths
Last year, 49 children died due to vehicular heatstroke from being left unattended in hot cars. The Senate approved legislation this week that would provide civil immunity for individuals who rescue children from hot cars.
Senate Bill 49 would extend current “Good Samaritan” laws to a person who breaks a window or forcibly enters a parked and locked vehicle to save an unattended child’s life. More information about the bill is available here.
PENNDOT Releases New Registration Plates
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation recently released a series of new registration plates for motorists to purchase for their vehicles.
The new plates include two special funds plates that will help raise funds for worthy causes.
A new Distracted Driving Awareness registration plate, available for a motorcycle and a passenger car or truck with a registered gross weight of not more than 14,000 pounds or a motor home. The plate costs $40 and proceeds will be used exclusively to advance public education and outreach on the dangers posed by distracted driving.
An Honoring Our Women Veterans registration plate that costs $35, of which $15 will be paid to the Veterans Trust Fund and shall be used for programs and resources that assist women veterans.
Also available are five new military plates. Most military plates require certification that an applicant has received a particular honor or served in a particular military conflict.
Additional information to include eligibility requirements and images of a variety of registration plates are available in the Registration Plates section of the Driver & Vehicle Services website.
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