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HARRISBURG – The House Judiciary Committee today approved three House bills to increase the safety of Pennsylvania homeowners, minors and those who are the targets of sexual extortion, reported Rep. Rob Kauffman (R-Franklin), chairman of the committee. One of the bills is being sponsored by Rep. Jesse Topper (R-Bedford/Franklin/Fulton), also a member of the committee.

“I continue to feel honored to lead a committee that has such a wide-ranging impact of the safety and well-being of Pennsylvania residents”

Rob Kauffman – Pennsylvania House of Representatives

House Bill 360

House Bill 360, authored by Topper, would amend current state statute to prohibit the issuance of a marriage license to anyone under the age of 18.

“We have specific thresholds for many things in our society – the age in which you can vote, drive a car, enter the military and even consumer alcohol – and with marriage being the cornerstone of the American family, we need to make sure individuals are of a proper age to make such a life-altering commitment,” said Kauffman.

Topper noted, “Sadly, some children are coerced into a childhood marriage, robbing them of their youth. This can cause irreparable harm to children and undermines their education, health, and economic opportunities; and increases the risk of them experiencing violence.”

Rob Kauffman – Pennsylvania House of Representatives

House Bill 360 was unanimously adopted by the committee, which now advances the bill to the full House of Representatives for a vote.

Other legislation considered and passed by the committee, were House Bills 365 and 1402.

House Bill 365

House Bill 365, sponsored by Rep. Martina White of Philadelphia, would add a new section to Pennsylvania’s Crimes Code dealing with illegal residential trespassers or “squatters” so that police could remove individuals from the property.

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“The trespasser typically claims to be a tenant or owner and sometimes even presents fraudulent documents to bolster the claim”

Rob Kauffman – Pennsylvania House of Representatives

“This puts police in a difficult situation, and they typically decline to get involved, which leaves the homeowner with no legal recourse other than proceeding with an eviction that can take months and be very difficult and expensive,” Kauffman explained.

House Bill 365 would work by giving law enforcement the legal backing needed to more effectively remedy the situation.

House Bill 1402

HB 1402 was also taken up and approved by the committee. It is sponsored by Rep. Tedd Nesbit, representing Butler and Mercer counties.  The bill would create the offense of sexual extortion.

Kauffman said that “Whether a hacker, previous romantic partner or someone else who knows the victim, blackmailers are using photos, videos and other materials to extort sexual favors, money, property or services from their victims.”

“This is a serious matter and law enforcement is asking for the law to enhance their abilities to protect victims and prosecute those who are committing these vile acts.”

Rob Kauffman – Pennsylvania House of Representatives

All three bills now go before the full House of Representatives for a vote before proceeding to the state Senate.

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