State Senate approves Marsy’s Law for Pennsylvania
Measure now qualifies to appear as a referendum on November 2019 ballot
HARRISBURG — Crime victims in Pennsylvania celebrated an affirming victory today, as the state Senate approved legislation for Marsy’s Law with bipartisan support. Marsy’s Law would grant victims constitutionally protected rights on par with those of the accused
House Bill 276, sponsored by Rep. Sheryl Delozier, R-Cumberland, was approved by the Senate in a unanimous vote, and now qualifies to appear on the ballot in the fall for voter approval.
“I applaud my colleagues in the General Assembly for acting swiftly to ensure that crime victims and their families feel supported, protected and heard throughout the judicial process,” Rep. Delozier said. “We look forward to giving the voters of Pennsylvania the opportunity to weigh in on this vital piece of legislation in November.”
The Pennsylvania Constitution enumerates rights for individuals accused and convicted of a crime. However, survivors and their families have no state constitutional protections. The state’s constitutional amendment process requires the change to be approved in two consecutive legislative sessions, followed by voter approval in a ballot referendum.
Sen. John Sabatina, D-Philadelphia, was the sponsor of Marsy’s Law in the state Senate during this legislative session.
“I appreciate the support of my colleagues in the Senate as we move one step closer to ensuring that victims of crime in our state are treated fairly,” Sen. Sabatina said. “It is crucial that we enact this legislation in Pennsylvania so that survivors have the power of the constitution behind them, as the accused and convicted currently do.”
Marsy’s Law has seen significant legislative support over the last two years. In April, House Bill 276 was approved by the state House in a vote of 190-8. During the 2017-18 legislative session, Marsy’s Law, sponsored by then-state Sen. Guy Reschenthaler, passed unanimously.
The next step in the process of amending the state constitution is for Marsy’s Law to appear on the November ballot for voter approval. According to a recent poll, 87 percent of voters in Pennsylvania who know about Marsy’s Law said they support the legislation.
“Marsy’s Law ensures victims have enforceable rights and protections that are equal to those of their perpetrators, and we appreciate the Senate’s overwhelming support of this important issue,” said Jennifer Riley, state director for Marsy’s Law. “We look forward to taking this matter to Pennsylvania voters in the fall.”