Monday, May 02, 2011

This week at the state capitol

Day One of this session week at the state capitol has passed, but the real fun begins tomorrow.

On Tuesday at 10am, the House Judiciary Committee will consider House Bill 815, to create a new crime of "sexting." This bill creates criminals out of dumb teenagers being dumb teenagers. In the shadow of the Luzerne County juvenile court scandal, one would assume that the legislature would tread lightly when it comes to criminalizing our kids, but this bill is like killing a gnat with a sledgehammer.

Fortunately, there is an alternative proposal in the Senate, SB 850, which criminalizes sexting when one person harms another. SB 850 is already out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The ACLU of PA doesn't support SB 850...but we also don't oppose it. We oppose HB 815, and the ACLU-PA memo submitted to the House Judiciary Committee is available at our legislative webpage.

It must be the week for dueling House-Senate proposals on civil liberties. On Wednesday, the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee will consider Senate Bill 732, which makes alterations to the inspection process for abortion clinics. SB 732 has some minor problems, including patient and employee privacy issues, but we're putting all of our energy into stopping HB 574, which would impose a complete rewrite of the legal playing field for clinics, potentially putting them out of business. In fact, we just posted this action alert against HB 574. Please take action!

Our friends in the immigration advocacy community will hold a press conference to answer some of the anti-immigrant vitriol out there on Wednesday. And SB 1, the school vouchers bill, continues to hang out there after being re-referred to the Senate Education Committee. Senator Piccola says that he has an agreement with the Corbett administration on revisions, but no one knows if he has the votes to pass the bill in the Senate. Time will tell.

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