In this Update:
Merry Christmas to All
From my family to yours, I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and a Blessed New Year!
Special thanks to our military, police, emergency responders and corrections officers who will be working this Christmas season, as they do all throughout the year, to keep our communities safe.
Having been there/done that myself I know and can understand the sacrifices you’re making and, as always, my family will be taking time to pray for each of you this Christmas.
Our offices will be open during the holiday season. I recognize that this time of year you might not be working as many hours and need to capitalize on the opportunity to stop by. Please do so, we look forward to serving you.
Also, PennDOT Driver License Centers will be closed on Dec. 23 and 25 for Christmas, and on Dec. 30 and Jan. 1 for New Year’s. Customers may still obtain a variety of driver and vehicle products and services online through PennDOT’s Driver and Vehicle Services website.
My Bill to Protect Sexually Exploited Children and Human Trafficking Victims Now Law
On Dec. 13, by a vote of 50-0, the Pennsylvania Senate once again unanimously advanced legislation – that I was proud to author alongside Sens. Maria Collett (D-12) and Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-28) – to guarantee sexually exploited children who are human trafficking victims always have full access to appropriate services and support (Senate Bills 44 and 45).
Tragically, under previous Pennsylvania law, any minor that is exploited for commercial sex must identify their third-party perpetrator to be considered a victim of human trafficking, unless their purchaser is charged as a trafficker.
Signed into law on Dec. 14 as Act No. 39, my legislation removes third-party control from Titles 18 and 23 of Pennsylvania’s criminal code. Currently awaiting PA House consideration, Sen. Collett’s Senate Bill 45 would eliminate the third-party control requirement to access victim services under the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline Notification Act (PA Act 197 of 2012).
No matter how a district attorney chooses to prosecute, sexually exploited children should never be subject to the emotional and physical trauma of identifying their human trafficking perpetrator to obtain the services they desperately need for healing and recovery.
Final enactment of this bipartisan, collaborative legislation will finally ensure any child who is preyed upon for commercial sex will be legitimately recognized as a victim of human trafficking under the law.
Bill to Combat Package Thefts Signed into Law
The Senate passed legislation to combat porch pirating – the theft of packages delivered to people’s homes – and it was recently signed into law.
Senate Bill 527, now Act 41 of 2023, implements specific penalties for theft of mail, which includes a package, bag or letter. In Pennsylvania, theft of mail is currently charged based solely on the value of the item taken.
According to Forbes, Americans spent $1.7 trillion shopping online since 2020 and nearly eight in 10 Americans have had a package stolen in 2022. Pennsylvania now joins eight other states that have already made porch pirating a felony.
2024 Fishing Licenses, Permits for Sale Now
Fishing licenses, permits and vouchers for 2024 purchased now are valid immediately through Dec. 31, 2024. The price of an annual resident fishing license is $27.97. Multi-year options are also available in increments of three years, five years or 10 years.
They can be purchased through the HuntFishPA online portal on the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission website, via smartphone by using the FishBoatPA mobile app or by visiting a retail license issuing agent.
Vouchers that can be given as gifts and are redeemable by recipients are also available.
Sharing the Holiday Spirit with PA Veterans
If you would like to support our veterans and military families this Christmas season, making a monetary donation goes a long way toward helping the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs provide members, veterans and their families with essential programs and services that would not be available otherwise.
Donations can be made by mail or online. They are tax-deductible, and gifts of any amount are appreciated. Learn more about making a donation.
For anyone who hasn’t already signed up to receive my mission reports, you can get on the e-newsletter mailing list here.