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Legislation Will Target Illicit Drug Dealers and Manufacturers
The heroin and opioid addiction crisis continues to leave painful and lasting scars on local communities. A recent report found that overdose deaths in Pennsylvania skyrocketed from less than 2,500 in 2014 to more than 3,500 in 2015. These shocking figures do not begin to account for the untold numbers of individuals and families who have been affected by these deaths, nor does it consider the prevalence or impact of lifelong disabilities caused by overdoses.
The scope of this public health crisis demands a comprehensive solution that brings together all interested parties, including lawmakers, legal experts, law enforcement, health care professionals, and others. In June, the Center for Rural Pennsylvania held a public hearing in Beaver County to examine the problem and explore potential solutions. I was proud to recently announce my intention to follow through on one of the suggestions offered during this hearing to give local prosecutors new tools to punish drug producers and dealers who cause serious injuries resulting from drug overdoses.
My proposal would strengthen penalties for the delivery or distribution of an illicit drug that results in serious bodily injury to the user, such as a serious permanent disfigurement or the loss or impairment of a body part or organ. Because Pennsylvania lacks a statute pertaining to serious bodily injury resulting from an overdose, district attorneys often refer these cases to federal prosecutors who can seek convictions for serious bodily injury under federal law. Unfortunately, this places an undue strain on the United States Attorneys Office and takes away the ability of local prosecutors to pursue convictions in their home jurisdictions.
I am hopeful this legislation will help law enforcement and prosecutors hold drug dealers and manufacturers responsible for the considerable damage they cause through their illegal activity.
New Child Seat Law Goes Into Effect
A new law went into effect last week to better protect children in car seats. The law requires that children under two years of age must be transported in rear-facing car seats to better protect their head, neck and spine. Children should remain in rear-facing seats until they reach the manufacturer's height or weight limits.
During the first year, violators will only receive a verbal warning. Pennsylvania State Police say that the fines will be dismissed at the hearing for those presenting evidence of acquisition of an appropriate child seat. More information about child passenger safety is available here.
Community Outreach Events Scheduled
Over the next several weeks, I look forward to hosting a number of outreach events to better understand the needs of local communities.
I will host a concealed carry seminar to help community residents better understand their Second Amendment rights on August 30. The seminar will be held at the South Strabane Fire House, located at 172 Oak Spring Road, from 5:30-7:00 p.m. Registration for the event is available online at http://www.senatorbartolotta.com/concealed-carry-seminar/.
On September 22, I will co-host a Senior Expo at Washington Crown Center, located at 1500 West Chestnut Street in Washington, from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. More than 130 vendors will be available from state, local and federal agencies to answer questions and provide information of interest to older adults.
On September 27, I will host a telephone town hall from 6-7 p.m. This format allows participants to listen in and submit questions from the comfort of their own home. Previous telephone town halls have attracted hundreds of participants who wanted to share their thoughts and learn more about the needs of our community, and I am hopeful for a similar turnout for this upcoming event. Please visit http://www.senatorbartolotta.com/tele-town-hall/ for more information or to register to receive a telephone call at the time of the event.
In addition, I will host more Coffee With Camera events in the fall to discuss the issues facing our region in a relaxed, informal setting. I hope to see you at one or more of these upcoming events.
Senate Accomplishments Include Government Reform, Education Measures
So far in the 2015-16 Legislative Session, lawmakers have passed a number of new laws to meet a variety of needs for Pennsylvanians, including measures to improve and streamline government operations and improve the education of young people.
A complete list of measures passed by the Senate is available here.
Fire/EMS Grant Applications Available
SouthPointe District Office
Greene County Office Building