Rep. Joe Hackett (R-Delaware) plans to sponsor three bills in the 2015-16 legislative session aimed at reforming the state’s liquor laws, increasing victim’s rights and improving school safety.
The first piece of legislation would allow a Pennsylvania resident to purchase beer, wine and spirits outside the Commonwealth and transport them back across state lines, provided they pay all necessary state taxes on their purchase.
“As a resident, I know countless individuals who have traveled to Delaware and New Jersey to purchase alcohol, whether for convenience or price, and broken the law by returning to Pennsylvania with these purchases,” Hackett said. “This is also an issue for those who vacation at the New Jersey or Delaware beaches, buy alcohol while on vacation, and bring the unused portion back home with them. Unfortunately, under current law, this is illegal and puts many law-abiding citizens in jeopardy of being penalized unknowingly.”
Rep. Hackett will also reintroduce legislation to increase the rights of crime victims to be present during criminal courtroom proceedings.
“It was brought to my attention by Delaware County Women Against Rape, that crime victims are not always allowed to attend the entirety of criminal trials,” Hackett said. “For many years, sexual assault victims in the Commonwealth were present during all proceedings, including the trial of their case. Unfortunately, they are now almost always sequestered, before and after testifying.”
Under the federal Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights, a victim has a right not to be excluded from a trial unless the court, based upon clear and convincing evidence, determines that testimony of the victim will be materially altered if the victim heard other testimony at trial.
Rep. Hackett’s legislation gives state crime victims the same explicit right.
In response to last session’s report by the Select Committee on School Safety and the growing concern over the security of our schools, Rep. Hackett plans to introduce legislation to require any educational institution in Pennsylvania that is required to have monthly fire drills as per the Public School Code Act 14 of 1949 to conduct emergency lockdown drills on a regular basis.
“Pennsylvania law requires schools to have emergency management plans in place and conduct monthly fire drills, but there is no requirement that these emergency plans be rehearsed or that faculty, staff and students know what to do in the event of a security issue,” Hackett said.
Many cities and states across the nation have mandated school security drills. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, there is an average of less than five fatalities per year in school fires, but there have been far more injuries and fatalities caused by violent incidents in schools.
Rep. Hackett’s legislation will direct all educational institutions in Pennsylvania to conduct no less than two emergency lockdown drills per year. Each drill will be done in coordination with local law enforcement and emergency management agencies. A review of each drill will be completed by the school’s principal, district superintendent and the local Chief of police and/or Emergency Management coordinator, who will then certify, in writing, that the drill was conducted.
Certification that at least two drills were conducted will be transmitted to the Department of Education and must be received on or before April 10th each year.
“Ensuring the safety and security of our schools is long overdue,” Hackett said. “I believe requiring schools to regularly rehearse and evaluate their security procedures is a small investment considering the priceless lives at stake.”
To learn more about Rep. Hackett’s legislation, watch his latest legislative update here
Representative Joe Hackett
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: David Foster