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The Joint State Government Commission serves as the bipartisan and bicameral research agency
of the General Assembly. It is comprised of the entire membership of the General Assembly.
Senate Resolution No. 194 of 2007 states that “Pennsylvania’s public health law is a patchwork of statutes mostly contained in Purdon’s Title 35 (Health and Safety), but also scattered throughout other titles, old case law and State and local regulations” with many of the Commonwealth’s public health statutes dating to the 1950s or earlier.
This resolution directed “the Joint State Government Commission to establish a legislative task force with an advisory committee of experts to review, update and codify Pennsylvania’s public health law.”
The Task Force on Public Health Law, a bipartisan panel of Senators, consists of Senator Edwin B. Erickson (Chair), Senator James Ferlo, Senator Stewart J. Greenleaf and Senator Shirley M. Kitchen.
The Advisory Committee on Public Health Law was appointed and represents a broad range of expertise and background in law, medicine and education. It includes attorneys, judges, professors, graduate school deans, physicians, nurses, public health administrators, medical directors and officers, an epidemiologist, and representatives from the court system and the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
The Advisory Committee agreed to form five subcommittees to assist in reviewing specific topics and developing proposed legislation involving public health law: Behavioral Health, Data, Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Emergency and Disaster Preparedness and Response, and the Public Health System.
In 2012, the Advisory Committee decided to release a report containing background information to allow additional time for continued work on each subcommittee’s proposed legislation and recommendations.
In January 2013, the Task Force authorized the publication of this report:
Public Health Law in Pennsylvania
Report of the Advisory Committee on Public Health Law
As each public health law topic area is completed through subcommittee or staff review and deliberation, the Advisory Committee as a whole will finalize the codification of each topic area, with ultimate consideration by the Task Force. It is anticipated that a separate report will be issued for each topic area.
Posted on January 01, 2013
The Joint State Government Commission of the Pennsylvania General Assembly released a report on the criminal justice system of Philadelphia. The report was mandated by 2010 Senate Resolution 344, whose prime sponsor was Senator Stewart J. Greenleaf. The study was prompted by a series of articles that appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer on December 13–16, 2009, which presented a scathing indictment of the system. The principal deficiencies were found to be high violent crime rates, low conviction rates, a dysfunctional bail system, and witness intimidation. The commission was directed to arrive at recommendations to address these problems. Under the guidance of the sponsors of the resolution, commission staff assembled a 34-member advisory committee, headed by
David Sonenshein, professor of law at Temple University’s Beasley School of Law.
· Since the publication of the Inquirer’s critique, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, the First Judicial District, the District Attorney, the City Administration, the Defender Association, and private stakeholders have come together to formulate and implement a wide variety of measures to address the system’s deficiencies. The initial results of this reform initiative have been very positive. A great deal of progress has been made in the last three years.
· Attempts to improve the City’s criminal justice system face a chronic shortage of funds and other resources.
· Among the most important measures that have been taken to improve the system are:
o the consolidation of hearings and trials in the Criminal Justice Center
o more accurate charging of offenses
o advances in electronic filing and discovery
o implementation of techniques to counter witness intimidation in court
At the same time, further measures are needed to further reform the system. The Advisory Committee made recommendations under four topics: pretrial services and bail, witness intimidation, court procedure, and technology.
· Update the guidelines for setting bail
· Expand use of nonfinancial pretrial release conditions
· The committee was split over whether to encourage the participation of private bail sureties
· Create a witness intimidation investigation and prosecution unit under the District Attorney
· Commence criminal proceedings before an indicting grand jury if witness intimidation is taking place or appears to be a serious threat
· Try felony cases in absentia (outside the defendant’s presence) if the defendant deliberately fails to attend the trial
Posted on January 01, 2013
In December 2011, the General Assembly established a Task Force on Child Protection to conduct a comprehensive review of the laws and procedures relating to the reporting of child abuse and the protection of the health and safety of children. The Task Force represented a broad cross-section of the Commonwealth, in terms of profession, experience, expertise, philosophy and geography. The Department of Public Welfare, the Joint State Government Commission and the Juvenile Court Judges’ Commission provided administrative and technical assistance to the Task Force.
Posted on November 01, 2012
SUMMARY - Report on Guardianship Law, October 2012
Senate Resolution No. 46 of 1945 directed the Commission to study decedents’ estates laws in the Commonwealth, and in July 1945, the Commission created the Task Force and Advisory Committee on Decedents’ Estates Laws.
The Task Force on Decedents’ Estates Laws is a bicameral and bipartisan panel of legislators, currently consisting of Senator Stewart J. Greenleaf (Chair), Senator Patrick M. Browne, Senator Jay Costa, Representative Michael K. Hanna, Representative C. Adam Harris and Senator Michael J. Stack.
The Advisory Committee on Decedents’ Estates Laws is a standing group of attorneys and judges from across the Commonwealth who assist the General Assembly by recommending improvements to Pennsylvania’s Probate, Estates and Fiduciaries Code and related statutes. Since 1945, the Advisory Committee has provided expertise and advice to formulate legislation aimed at modernizing Pennsylvania law.
Over the years, the Advisory Committee has formed various subcommittees to assist in reviewing specific topics and developing statutory recommendations involving the Probate, Estates and Fiduciaries Code for consideration by the Advisory Committee
and Task Force. The Subcommittee on Guardianships and Powers of Attorney was formed to review, among other things, 20 Pa.C.S. Chapters 54 (health care), 55 (incapacitated persons) and 56 (powers of attorney).
Contents of Report
This report contains proposed legislation to amend, repeal or add numerous sections in 20 Pa.C.S., among them §§ 751, 752, 5503, 5504, 5511, 5512, 5512.2, 5512.4, 5512.5, 5513, 5515, 5515.1, 5515.2, 5515.3, 5518, 5518.1, 5521, 5526, 5531, 5536 and 5553. The proposed legislation contains official comments, which may be used in determining the intent of the General Assembly. Transitional language (provisions regarding applicability and the effective date of the proposed legislation) follows the statutory recommendations.
This report also contains the following:
(1) A summary of the proposed legislation.
(2) Background material regarding the current law and the discussions of the Advisory Committee.
(3) A source table that explains the basis for a number of the proposed new subsections in 20 Pa.C.S. § 5521.
(4) Select provisions from the Probate, Estates and Fiduciaries Code that are cross-referenced in current 20 Pa.C.S. § 5521(b).
(5) Act No. 108 of 2012.
(6) A roster of the members of the Advisory Committee since its inception in 1945.
Posted on October 01, 2012
S U M M A R Y – Report on Human Trafficking in Pennsylvania
The crime of human trafficking is growing in Pennsylvania, and the Commonwealth has seen many local and regional collaborative responses rise to combat this crime. Inroads have been made in public awareness, training first responders, and in providing services to the many victims. This study by the Joint State Government Commission proposes numerous reforms, including draft legislation, to help accelerate efforts to combat human trafficking in the state. The study was conducted under Senate Resolution 253 of 2010, sponsored by Senator Stewart Greenleaf, and was aided by an Advisory Committee of experts. For the first time, a proposed state plan addresses human trafficking, coordinates services, enhances collaboration and strengthens Pennsylvania law. Highlights of the report include:
- The two most common forms of human trafficking – sex trafficking and labor
trafficking – obtained through the use of force, fraud or coercion, exist in Pennsylvania.
- It is the second largest form of organized crime in the world behind the illegal drug trade.
- 12.3 million people worldwide are victims of trafficking.
- Pennsylvania is a source, destination and pass-through state for trafficking in persons.
- Trafficking victims may be hard to identify and are sometimes treated as criminals.
- Public awareness and professional training, increased penalties and access to victim services are crucial for combating human trafficking.
- Success in combating human trafficking requires concerted efforts of organizations and agencies on the regional, national and international levels.
- Recommendations contained in the report focus on three specific areas: Prevention and Awareness; Investigations and Prosecution; and Protection and Support.
- This report proposes a new Chapter 30 (Human Trafficking) of Title 18 Pa.C.S., including:
- a state Council for the prevention of human trafficking within PCCD;
- clear definitions of sex and labor trafficking;
- increased fines and penalties for trafficking and involuntary servitude, and adds penalties for business entities, including license revocation and forfeiture of contracts;
- participation in the national human trafficking hotline;
- increased training for first responders;
- expanded resources available to victim service providers.
- Enacting these policy and legislative recommendations will increase the training and awareness of law enforcement and first responders, expand the legal tools available for prosecutors and investigators, and provide more resources to victim service providers and advocates.
Posted on June 01, 2012
Joint State Recieves New Studies
House Resolution 247 - The Practice of Administrative Law Before Pennsylvania's Courts
House Resolution 138 - The Constable System in Pennsylvania
House Resolution 226 - Pennsylvania's Mental Health System
Posted on May 14, 2013
Joint State Government Commission releases new studies
The Criminal Justice System in Philadelphia Study. Read the Summary or Full Advisory Committee Report
Pennsylvania Public Health Laws. Read the Summary of Full Advisory Committee Report
Posted on January 07, 2013
Child Protection in Pennsylvania: Proposed Recommendations, Report of the Task Force on Child Protection
The full report is available here A summary of the report is available here A clip of the joint House Children & Youth and Judiciary Committee hearing, on January 22, 2012, is available here
Posted on November 27, 2012
Governor Signs SB 1225, updating PA Library Code
SB 1255 passed the Senate on May 8, the House on October 17, and was signed into law by the Governor on November 1. See the Governor's press release here. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Pileggi, is based on the JSGC report, "The Pennsylvania Public Library Code: Findings and Recommendations." The report was completed in December 2010.
Posted on November 02, 2012
Joint State testifies at public hearing
Posted on August 28, 2012
Human Trafficking in the News
Posted on August 01, 2012
Representative Cherelle Parker Holding Hearing on Services to Children of Incarcerated Parents
Friday, March 30, 2012 Representative Cherelle Parker will hold a hearing at Philadelphia City Hall on Services to Children of Incarcerated Parents, the subject of our report.
Posted on March 27, 2012
Podcast of WITF Smart Talk
Executive Director Dave John and Research Analyst Dr. Helen Khanzhina's appeared live on WITF-FM Radio Smart Talk (89.5FM) on March 12, 2002. Their interview about services to children of incarcerated parents is now available in this podcast
Posted on March 13, 2012
Services to Children of Incarcerated Parents
Our report was presented to the Senate Judiciary Committee by the Pennsylvania Prison Society (@prison_society) on March 6, 2012.
Full text of our report is here
Posted on March 02, 2012