FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Feb. 9, 2011
HARRISBURG – Protecting children and changing the culture in Harrisburg took center stage in the state House this week as the first bills were voted and sent to the Senate for consideration, House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny County) said today.
"Pennsylvanians must believe their government is effective, efficient, and
accountable, and we think these bills will help bring that about,” Turzai
said. “These government reform bills are part of a larger package that is the strongest set of reforms in more than 25 years."
Rebuilding the public’s trust in state government is one of the top priorities of the House Republican Caucus, according to Turzai. The House voted to send to the state Senate for its consideration the first seven of a package of bills aimed at reforming state government. The bills are part of the package first introduced in 2009 known as the Pennsylvania Agenda for Trust in Harrisburg, or PATH. These proposals will help define the right path government should take to help restore the trust of Pennsylvania’s residents.
Today, the House passed legislation (House Bill 15) introduced by Rep. Jim
Christiana (R-Beaver County) to create a searchable database for all state spending called PennWATCH. All state departmental and agency budget expenditures would be available online through one website. Vendor information and lists of state contract awards, including recipients, purpose and status reports, would be part of PennWATCH.
The PATH bills passing the House Tuesday were:
HB 103: Actual lobbying only, introduced by Rep. Rep. Bryan
Cutler (R-Lancaster County), will increase penalties for
lobbyists engaging in prohibited activities.
HBs 104 and 105: Strengthening whistleblower protections for
all state employees and those working on state contracts,
introduced by Rep. Marc Gergely (D-Allegheny County) and
Rep. Brian Ellis (R-Butler County), will extend
whistleblower protection to employees of nonprofits and
private sector companies who report waste of public money
obtained by their employer for services or work. The
legislation also provides similar protections to legislative
HB 107: State Contract Review Reform, introduced by Rep.
George Dunbar (R-Westmoreland County), will amend the
Procurement Code provisions relating to competitively sealed
proposals. No individual who has been employed by an
offeror within the last two years may participate in the
evaluation of the proposals
HB 108: Public Review of Contracts, introduced by Rep. Glen
Grell (R-Cumberland County) makes the Right-To-Know law
applicable to public procurement contracts and provides for
public inspection of non-competitively awarded contracts
prior to execution of the agreement
HB 109: No Start-Ups, introduced by Rep. Jim Marshall
(R-Beaver County) amends the Legislative Code of Ethics to
essentially include the provisions of House Rule 47, which
prohibits members of the General Assembly from creating or
maintaining nonprofits that receive public funds.
All the bills passed unanimously, except HB 109, which had one negative vote.
Protecting Children, Closing Megan’s Law Loopholes
Also this week, the House considered a package of bills to close loopholes in the state’s Megan’s Law. The loopholes were discovered last year when the
Superior Court ruled in two cases dealing with transients and out-of-state
Accordingly, as the Crimes Code currently standd, both homeless sex offenders and some sex offenders who move to the Commonwealth cannot be prosecuted for
intentionally failing to register with the Pennsylvania State Police. The bills
would enact tougher criminal penalties for out-of-state offenders who move to
Pennsylvania and fail to register.
HB 68, introduced by Rep. Garth Everett (R-Lycoming County),
amends Megan’s Law to require sex offenders without a
residence to register every 30 days with the Pennsylvania
State Police as transients and sets penalties for sexually
violent predators who knowingly fail to comply with monthly
counseling sessions. The bill passed unanimously.
HB 75, introduced by Rep. Ron Marsico (R-Dauphin County),
amends Megan’s Law to provide for specific criminal
sentences for sex offenders who fail to comply with
registration requirements. The bill had one negative vote.
"Pennsylvanians sent a strong message in November to rein in government and
reconnect it to the everyday values of citizens,” Turzai said. “Our
agenda of controlled spending, a smaller government focusing on its core functions,and greater accountability to the people we serve has been set by the people who elected us… the bills passed today have begun to move that agenda"