Greenleaf Bills Move Forward as PA Senate Convenes for Fall Session

Harrisburg – On Monday, September 26th, the Senate committees on Appropriations, Judiciary, and Education voted to send four of Senator Stewart J. Greenleaf’s bills to the full Senate for consideration:

Human Trafficking:

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved Senator Greenleaf’s Safe Harbor legislation, SB 851 to protect child victims of human trafficking from criminal prosecution.  Over 100,000 children are exploited through prostitution in the United States each year.  Adults psychologically manipulate these children and provide them illegal drugs.  As a consequence, children have been charged with prostitution, drug possession, loitering, and other offenses that are inherently related to prostitution.

“These are children in dire need of protection—they’re not criminals,” said Senator Greenleaf.  “The need the protection of the child welfare system, not re-victimized and incarcerated.  Not only is this the right thing to do by these exploited children, it is also the most effective way to help law enforcement target the traffickers and pimps who are the real criminals.”

PHEAA State Grant Program:

The Senate Education Committee approved Senator Greenleaf’s SB 1356 to permanently include online course work (distance learning) in the PHEAA State Grant Program.  In 2013, Senator Greenleaf’s proposal to offer grants to those seeking online degrees took effect as a pilot program with great success.  PHEAA found that they are reaching a previously underserved need-based segment of the student population.  The PHEAA Board recommended that the 2017-18 award year include an expansion of the State Grant Program to offer grants to PA students who attend institutions based in Pennsylvania, regardless of whether they take courses online or in the classroom.

“This has been a highly needed enhancement of our grant program,” said Greenleaf.  “We are better able to serve many non-traditional students who are unable to attend classes because of work or family obligations.  This is allowing people to improve their lives and increase their income.  It’s going to be great for our economy.”

Inmate Employment and Skill Building:

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved Senator Greenleaf’s SB 525 to facilitate partnerships between correctional facilities and private industry, providing prisoners with work opportunities to earn a wage and develop marketable skills.

“This is an enhancement that would offer inmates a higher chance of success upon release from prison,” said the Senator.  “Inmate recidivism is high, and meaningful work is hard to find for someone recently released from prison.  This would be a step in the right direction towards building an inmate’s confidence and help ensure a law abiding and meaningful life once they are reintegrated into society.”

Additional Judges

The Judiciary Committee approved Senator Greenleaf’s SB 1365 to add judges to Montgomery and Bucks County’s courts. These judges would be elected in the municipal election of 2017 and would take office in January 2018.

“We are in need of additional common pleas judges in both counties in order to lighten caseloads and enhance our courts efficiency,” said Greenleaf.

Contact:  Aaron Zappia (215) 657-7700