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HB 40 moves out of House Judiciary Committee.

House Judiciary Committee
10:00 a.m., 05/25/10, Room G-50, Irvis Office Building
By Jason Gottesman

The committee met to consider a number of bills.

HB 1926 Taylor, R - (PN 2573) Amends Titles 18 (Crimes and Offenses) and 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) further providing for registration of offenders and sexually violent predators who are homeless. These offenders would be required to register with the PA State Police at an approved registration site within the jurisdiction of the area where the person may be found. - The bill was reported as amended by unanimous vote.

A07050 by Caltagirone, was said to ensure penalties for out of state residents who fail to register and to require transients to register their habitual locals every 30 days. The amendment was also said to impose penalties for not attending mandatory rehabilitation classes as well as changes the administration and implementation of Meagan's Law. The amendment was adopted unanimously.

Rep. Kathy Manderino (D-Philadelphia) said she recalled hearing from people who worked with the homeless who believed this bill was difficult and could make homeless technical violators. She asked if these concerns were addressed. Counsel noted the seven day reporting requirement was expanded to 30 days.

Rep. Pallone asked why the frequency of reporting for the homeless has been reduced. Counsel said current law dictates an offender has to provide an address and the homeless do not have one and this requires more frequent reporting.

Rep. Will Gabig (R-Cumberland) asked if "transient" is the right definition to use. Counsel said it is. Rep. Gabig asked if the committee was discussing a reporting requirement. Counsel answered in the affirmative. Rep. Gabig asked how the two were connected. Counsel responded saying transients must report every 30 days and said it makes it an offense not to update one's registration information.

HB 2489 Brennan - (PN 3719) Amends Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure), in administration of justice, to allow a magisterial district judge to issue attachments or hold one in contempt for failure to comply with a fingerprint order. - The bill was unanimously reported as committed.

HB 907 Smith, M - (PN 1026) Amends Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) providing for sentencing procedure for murder of the first degree by adding that aggravating circumstances would include if the victim was over 60 years of age; or the victim was particularly vulnerable due to old age, infirmity or disability. - The bill was reported as committed with a 14-7 vote. The following members voted in the negative: Representatives Joseph Brennan (D-Lehigh), Kathy Manderino (D-Philadelphia), Greg Vitali (D-Delaware), Chelsa Wagner (D-Allegheny), Ronald Waters (D-Philadelphia), Thomas Creighton (R-Lancaster), and Paul Drucker (D-Chester).

HB 1045 Thomas - (PN 1216) Amends Title 18 (Crimes & Offenses), in firearms and other dangerous articles, prohibiting certain assault weapons. The bill stipulates that anyone who possesses, uses, controls, sells, transfers or manufactures, obtains a license to possess, use, control, sell, transfer or manufacture an assault weapon in the Commonwealth commits a felony of the third degree. The bill defines "assault weapon" as a semiautomatic rifle known as an SKS with detachable magazine or any part or combination of parts designed or intended to convert a firearm into such semiautomatic rifle or any combination of parts from which such semiautomatic rifle may be readily assembled if those parts are in the possession or under the control of the same person. The bill also provides for exceptions - The bill failed along a 6-20 vote. The following members voted in the affirmative: Chairman Thomas Caltagirone (D-Berks) and Representatives Bryan Lentz (D-Delaware), Kathy Manderino (D-Philadelphia), Greg Vitali (D-Delaware), Chelsa Wagner (D-Allegheny), Ronald Waters (D-Philadelphia).

Rep. Drucker said he reads the bill to ban only a specific weapon. Rep. Curtis Thomas (D-Philadelphia), prime sponsor of the legislation, said the bill is just talking about AK-47s, which he remarked can only be used to mow people down. He said there is a certain amount of callousness when using this weapon.

Rep. Josh Shapiro (D-Montgomery) asked if Rep. Thomas believes the definition in the bill speaks to AK-47s. Rep. Thomas said he does. Rep. Shapiro asked if there are assault rifles not covered in the current definition in the bill. Rep. Thomas said the bill only covers rifles with a magazine with 30 or more rounds.

Rep. Drucker asked about the differences between Rep. Thomas's definition and the Federal definition. Rep. Thomas said the distinction is the definition in his bill is a specific definition and noted it is not something different than what is already in current law pertaining to SKS's. Rep. Drucker asked if this bill only bans SKS's. Rep. Thomas noted it does and noted the weapon is commonly used in Pennsylvania for gun violence.

HB 1044 Thomas - (PN 1215) Amends Title 18 (Crimes & Offenses), in firearms and other dangerous articles, further providing for limitation on the regulation of firearms and ammunition by providing that a political subdivision may regulate the lawful ownership, possession, transfer or transportation of firearms under certain conditions. - The bill failed by a 6-20 vote. The following members voted in the affirmative: Chairman Thomas Caltagirone (D-Berks) and Representatives Bryan Lentz (D-Delaware), Kathy Manderino (D-Philadelphia), Greg Vitali (D-Delaware), Chelsa Wagner (D-Allegheny), and Ronald Waters (D-Philadelphia).

Rep. Glen Grell (R-Cumberland) asked if there is anything setting forth the criteria the State Police would use to propose or reject a municipal application. Counsel said there is not.

Rep. Drucker asked why there is no standard of review. Rep. Thomas said the Pennsylvania Uniform Firearms Law provides no exception to situations where counties are faced with a change in circumstances. He noted the toll gun violence has on the commonwealth and said this legislation would put in place a process for when gun violence becomes too big a problem.

Rep. Tim Krieger (R-Westmoreland) noted people perpetrating these killings could not pass a background check for the weapon and therefore this legislation would only affect law abiding citizens. He also said he feels this is an unconstitutional delegation of legislative authority to the Pennsylvania State Police and moved the bill be considered unconstitutional. The motion was later withdrawn.

Rep. Thomas said Philadelphia has adopted four ordinances in violation of the Uniform Firearms Law that have been upheld by the courts and this decreased gun violence. He said he worries about the families of police officers who have to face people with these weapons.

Rep. Lentz said there are still problems with the bill and it needs substantial revision, but he believes localities should be able to curb gun violence.

Rep. Michael Vereb (R-Montgomery) asked if the Pennsylvania State Police has anything to say about this legislation. A representative from the PSP declined to comment. Rep. Thomas noted the large increase in gun violence outside of Philadelphia County. Rep. Vereb asked if this ordinance is able to time out when no longer needed. Rep. Thomas said if the crisis goes away, PSP can define reasonable steps to deal with the problem of the particular county.

Rep. Waters said he supports what Rep. Thomas is trying to do and noted other states blame Pennsylvania for their gun violence. He noted localities should be able to protect themselves when states cannot.

HB 1043 Thomas - (PN 1214) The Illegal Firearms Trafficking Act establishes the Bureau of Illegal Firearms Trafficking in the Office of the Attorney General. Duties of the bureau include investigating potential violations of 18 Pa.C.S. (relating to crimes and offenses) relating to illegal firearms trafficking; and bringing prosecutions relating to illegal firearms trafficking. The Attorney General shall receive complaints from individuals concerning illegal firearms trafficking and investigate and assist in county prosecutions relating to illegal firearms trafficking and, as necessary, coordinate with Federal, State and local law enforcement agencies in the investigation of similar crimes. Additionally, the Attorney General shall annually report to the General Assembly detailing the activities engaged in by the bureau. - The bill failed by a 9-17 vote with the following member voting in support: Chairman Thomas Caltagirone (D-Berks) and Representatives Bryan Lentz (D-Delaware), Kathy Manderino (D-Philadelphia), Josh Shapiro (D-Montgomery), Greg Vitali (D-Delaware), Chelsa Wagner (D-Allegheny), Ronald Waters (D-Philadelphia), and Kate Harper (R-Montgomery).

Rep. Grell asked if there is any statement of position from the Attorney General. Committee counsel said an email was received indicating "lukewarm opposition." Rep. Thomas said the legislation merely codifies something that is already done in the AG's office by program.

Rep. Drucker asked if there is a cost analysis of the bill. Rep. Thomas said there is not and noted even though the legislation will not pass, he is excited the committee is finally having this conversation.

HB 40 Perry - (PN 32) Amends Titles 18 (Crimes & Offenses) and 42 (Judiciary) further stipulating, in general principles of justification, certain circumstances and situations in which protective and/or deadly force is justified. The bill provides for presumptions of intent, for reasonable belief, for exceptions, for definitions and inconsistencies, and for public officers outlines justifications for the use of force in the performance of duty. - The bill was reported as amended by a 22-4 vote with Representatives Drucker, Manderino, Vitali, and Waters voting in the negative.

A07006 by Marsico, was said to make technical changes and clear up language as well as changing the penalty to death. The amendment was adopted by a 23-3 vote with Representatives Pallone, Petrarca, and Krieger voting in the negative.

Rep. Vitali asked if the amendment makes the bill more strict. Counsel said it tightens up the law for when protective force can be used.

Rep. Joseph Petrarca (D-Westmoreland) asked if size difference between people can be considered a deadly weapon. Counsel indicated current law would apply in that situation, but if a weapon is displayed there is no duty to retreat.

Rep. Jim Casorio (D-Westmoreland) asked if the prime sponsor of the bill supports the amendment. Rep. Scott Perry (R-York) stated he fully supports the amendment.

Rep. Waters asked how an untrained person can tell if someone is carrying a firearm in certain circumstances. Rep. Perry noted the decision to prosecute would be up to the District Attorney. Counsel to Rep. Perry said if the presumption is found not to exist, one would be back to current law.

Rep. Krieger asked what happens if there is the false display of a deadly weapon. Counsel to Rep. Perry explained that is a fact question.

Rep. Lentz asked if only those circumstances enumerated as exceptions are the only ways the presumption does not apply. Counsel to Rep. Perry said they are not and the presumption can always be overcome with evidence. Counsel said one is entitled to the presumption, but it can be overcome.

Rep. Shapiro asked if the legislation flips the presumption. Rep. Perry said it does and it puts it with the homeowner. Rep. Shapiro then asked a number of hypotheticals trying to flesh out the issue and then asked if there are any incidents showing this law is needed. Rep. Perry pointed to a Venango man who was exonerated for defending his home.

Rep. Manderino said it is her understanding that this law changes the current law to include the porch, deck, patio, and vehicle. She said the big thing the legislation changes is what happens outside of the house and changes the presumption to say one no longer has a duty to retreat in a public place if someone has a weapon. She said she also has issues with the legislation providing civil immunity.

Rep. Drucker asked if there are any advisory opinions on this bill. Rep. Manderino noted the District Attorney's Association is against the legislation.



This passed the Senate and has been sent to House Game and Fisheries.





SB 1026 - (PLS Summary)
(PN 1961) Amends Title 34 (Game) further providing for elk hunting licenses by allowing a person to apply for only one elk license in a license year after a licensing determination has been made by the game commission. The bill also provides nothing in this subsection shall be construed to prevent a one-time transfer of the Governor's tag by the purchaser at auction if the tag is transferred without consideration to another properly licensed hunter for his use under the same terms and conditions as the original purchaser. Elk conservation tags are also provided for and certain youth hunting activities may be exempted from licensing requirements. (Prior Printer's Numbers: 1296, 1633, 1836)

(PN 1836) Amends Title 34 (Game) further providing for elk hunting licenses by allowing a person to apply for only one elk license in a license year after a licensing determination has been made by the game commission. The bill also provides nothing in this subsection shall be construed to prevent a one-time transfer of the Governor's tag by the purchaser at auction if the tag is transferred without consideration to another properly licensed hunter for his use under the same terms and conditions as the original purchaser. Elk conservation tags are also provided for. (Prior Printer's Numbers: 1296, 1633)

(PN 1633) Amends Title 34 (Game) further providing for elk hunting licenses by allowing a person to apply for only one elk license in a license year after a licensing determination has been made by the game commission. The bill also provides nothing in this subsection shall be construed to prevent a one-time transfer of the Governor's tag by the purchaser at auction if the tag is transferred without consideration to another properly licensed hunter for his use under the same terms and conditions as the original purchaser. Elk conservation tags are also provided for. (Prior Printer's Number: 1296)

(PN 1296) Amends Title 34 (Game) further providing for elk hunting licenses. Provides the Game Commission shall transfer one bull elk tag by June 30, 2009, and one bull elk tag by April 30 of each year thereafter, to the Governor's Office. Further provides the Governor's Office is authorized through an objective and established process to auction off a special license, which shall be known as the "Governor's Tag", to hunters interested in the opportunity to hunt one bull elk in the next license year beginning more than one year following the transfer. Also provides nothing in this subsection shall be construed to prevent a one-time transfer of the Governor's tag by the purchaser at auction if the tag is transferred without consideration to another properly licensed hunter for his use under the same terms and conditions as the original purchaser.
 
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