Republican Leaders Applaud Final Approval of Victims’ Rights Bills

The Senate and House today took action to send six bills to enhance protections for crime victims to the Governor for signature. Final legislative action also was taken on Marsy’s Law, a Constitutional amendment to include a crime victims’ bill of rights.  Marsy’s Law (House Bill 276) will now be placed on the ballot for voters to consider. 

Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-34) and House Majority Leader Bryan Cutler (R-100) issued the following statement on the General Assembly’s actions:

“Today we have taken steps to ensure that the rights of accused criminals do not outweigh the rights of victims. These bills are a strong step toward balancing the scales of justice. By elevating the rights of victims, we help to remove the stigma that many feel when they have been the target of a crime.

“With this action, we are sending a clear message that victims matter, it’s our hope that the Governor will sign all six of these bills. At the same time, it is our hope that voters will take the time to learn about Marsy’s Law since they will have the final say on whether the state Constitution is amended to include a victims’ bill of rights.

“Crime impacts all of our communities, and victims who have already suffered should be treated with respect by the criminal justice system. We have taken action to ensure that victims are heard and represented in a way that does not re-victimize them as part of the process of achieving justice.”

Bills approved by the Senate and sent to the Governor this week include:

  • House Bill 315, which criminalizes the act of female genital mutilation.
  • House Bill 502, which strengthens the right of crime victims to attend court proceedings.
  • House Bill 504, which shields rape victims against irrelevant cross examinations.

Bills approved by the House of Representatives and send to the Governor this week include:

  • Senate Bill 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.
  • Senate Bill 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.
  • Senate Bill 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.

 

CONTACT: Jenn Kocher (717) 787-1377 (Senator Corman)