Huntingdon County 911 Improvements
I visited the Huntingdon County 911 Center after the county was awarded $1 million to help offset the costs of replacing its 40-year-old public radio system. From the first moments someone calls for assistance, the people here make sure that help is on the way while comforting those in need. Upgrading this system will ensure countywide operation of a radio system and enhance communication among fire, police and emergency medical staff.
The money comes from the state’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, which is designed to assist in the acquisition and construction of regional economic, cultural, civic, recreational and historical improvement projects.
The technological advances in the last 40 years are astounding and our emergency responders should have access to that in dealing with life-and-death situations. This project updates to a digital system and allows all emergency responders to be on the same bandwidth and permits secure transmissions to police for additional safety.
The project replaces the entire public radio system with all new equipment, adds four remote sites to allow for total countywide coverage, and provides updates to existing radio sites. The total cost of the project is about $6.5 million. It is expected to be operational this year.
Timothy J. Piazza Antihazing Law Passes Critical Hurdle with House Vote
The Timothy J. Piazza Antihazing Law, which I sponsored, passed a crucial hurdle with the state House voting unanimously to adopt the wide-ranging antihazing measure.
We are embarking on the final steps in a long journey for Tim’s family who have turned their personal tragedy into a mission to save others. It has been my honor to work with them toward comprehensively rewriting the state’s hazing laws in order to prevent death or serious injury due to hazing. I am grateful for the support from the House of Representatives.
The Timothy J. Piazza Antihazing Law focuses on prevention, enforcement and transparency in order to end hazing. I first introduced this legislation in March and it was passed by the Senate in April. The House amended Senate Bill 1090, meaning the bill will return to the Senate for another vote. I will bring the amended bill to the full Senate for consideration next week.
In making these changes, we are establishing a model for strengthening antihazing laws nationwide. This law will provide prosecutors with the tools they need to fully prosecute those who engage in hazing-related activities. Students will have information they need to make informed choices about the groups they consider joining and safe harbor provisions so they can call for help for someone in distress without fear of prosecution.
The proposed bill increases penalties for those involved in hazing; requires schools to have policies and reporting procedures in place to stop hazing; and ensures that parents and students are provided with information related to the issue. It also establishes clear-cut parameters on hazing for organizations such as fraternities and sororities.
Protecting Domestic Abuse Victims
I was pleased to support legislation that protects victims of domestic violence by bringing consistency to the process by which someone is required to relinquish a firearm due to a domestic violence conviction or judge’s order. This legislation goes a long way to protect victims of domestic violence and does not take firearms away from responsible owners. The legislation only takes firearms out of the hands of those who have been through a hearing process or have been convicted, and are deemed by the court to be violent and a threat. By disarming convicted abusers and safely securing firearms before there are fatal consequences, this bill will save lives.
House Bill 2060 mirrors legislation that passed the State Senate unanimously last spring. The measure is now set for enactment into law. Under House Bill 2060, firearms relinquishment would take place in the case of a conviction for a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence when the defendant has been proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In the case of a civil order, which would be a Protection From Abuse (PFA) order, a judge would order the relinquishment of firearms after a hearing at which evidence is presented and both parties have a chance to speak. A final PFA order cannot exceed three years.
This legislation will save lives by preventing incidents of domestic violence from escalating. It provides a safer setting for law enforcement, who must wade into an unstable setting. Domestic violence calls are some of the most dangerous calls law enforcement officers answer – 22 percent of law enforcement fatalities are domestic-violence related.
Currently, a third party who would be in possession of the firearms during the duration of the PFA can be a friend or family member of the defendant. House Bill 2060 changes the law and make it mandatory that firearms are relinquished to law enforcement, to an officer of the court, to a licensed firearms dealer or to a commercial armory — and not a family member or friend. It is important to note that relinquishment would only apply after due process is complete on a final PFA, not temporary orders.
House Bill 2060 would also change relinquishing requirements when a defendant is convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence. Currently, the defendant must relinquish firearms to a sheriff (or a third party) within 60 days. House Bill 2060 would make the relinquishment period 24 hours, and defines the entities eligible to hold the firearms, such as law enforcement, an officer of the court, a licensed firearms dealer or a commercial armory.
Safe Schools Grants
State grants totally about $128,000 have been awarded to boost security in four local school districts. A safe and secure learning environment is vital for educating students. I heard that time and again as I travelled throughout the state talking with students, administrators, law enforcement and mental health professionals. With assistance from the state, we can provide the tools and resources necessary to help these school districts keep students and teachers safe and allow them to focus on learning.
Huntingdon Area School District will receive $24,852 and Juniata Valley School District will receive $24,948 to purchase security and safety-related equipment. Qualified purchases include student, staff and visitor identification systems; metal detectors; protective lighting; surveillance equipment; special emergency communications equipment; electronic locksets; deadbolts and theft control devices; and training in the use of the security-related technology.
State College Area School District will receive $39,999 and Philipsburg-Osceola Area School District will receive $38,000 for the training and compensation of school police officers.
The funds were awarded by the Pennsylvania Department of Education through the competitive Safe Schools Targeted Grant Program. The initiative supports local efforts to prevent and reduce violent incidents in schools, purchase safety and security-related equipment, and provide the training and compensation of school resource officers and school police officers.
I voted to set aside an additional $60 million for school safety as part of the Fiscal Year 2018-19 budget process. That money has yet to be awarded.
Reminder to Follow Me on Social Media
My Facebook page provides not only legislative updates but those all-important PennDOT construction updates for our district. I also enjoy posting pictures of local constituents that I meet and information on other local events happening in our neighborhoods and communities. You also can follow me on Twitter – my handle is @JakeCorman. On Twitter, I tend to provide more of a news update of everything going on legislatively in Harrisburg and the district. If you haven’t already, check out my social media pages.
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