Judiciary Committee Advances Bills to Combat Human Trafficking
With the Commonwealth ranked 10th in the nation for human trafficking, the House Judiciary Committee this week advanced a package of bills that would combat the crime and ensure justice for victims. The bills are expected to come before the full House for a vote next week.
Human trafficking involves the use of force, fraud or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. The International Labour Organization estimates human trafficking is a $150 billion industry, of which $99 billion belongs to sexual exploitation.
Several bills aim to increase penalties or expand definitions of crimes related to human trafficking, while another would expand the list of sexual offenses that require offenders to participate in a program of counseling and therapy designed for incarcerated sex offenders.
Other measures would prohibit defendants from introducing evidence of a human trafficking victim’s past sexual victimization; expand opportunities for expert testimony in human trafficking cases; and require courts to consider human trafficking convictions when considering child custody.
Finally, the committee approved a resolution to recognize the month of January 2020 as “National Human Trafficking Awareness Month” in Pennsylvania. To learn more about this crime and our efforts to address it please click here
House OKs Bill to Prevent Repeat DUI Offenses
Working to improve public safety, the House has approved a measure to require courts to evaluate repeat DUI offenders for the suitability of a substance monitoring program as a condition of bail.
A substance monitoring program prohibits the individual from using alcohol, controlled substances or both while also being required to use or participate in any of the following for no less than 90 days as a condition of bail: a continuous alcohol monitoring device; a remote breath testing device or any other alcohol monitoring technology or device; or random drug testing or another controlled substance monitoring device.
Recidivism rates for repeat DUI offenders who wore a device for at least 90 days are 50% less than those who did not.
A repeat DUI offender is an individual who is pending adjudication for a DUI and has one or more prior DUI convictions within the past 10 years; or is pending adjudication for two or more DUIs.
House Bill 916
now moves to the Senate for consideration.
Tackling Medicaid Fraud, Abuse
To ensure taxpayer dollars are helping people truly in need and not being used fraudulently or misspent, a bipartisan group of lawmakers this week unveiled a comprehensive package of bills to stop fraud and abuse within the state’s Medicaid program.
The package of bills is the direct result of a grand jury report on fraud in Pennsylvania’s Medical Assistance Program, also known as Medicaid, released by the Office of Attorney General and a report recently released by the House Government Oversight Committee.
The measures would create a state version of the federal False Claims Act
to recoup additional funds from false claims made against Medicaid; require state agencies to assess their program expenditures to determine how susceptible they are to improper payment; create a state-level Do Not Pay system to stop improper payments before they are made; establish requirements for contracts with Medicaid Managed Care Organizations; and increase penalties for fraudulent claims.
Representative Rosemary M. Brown
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Abby Krueger