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07/19/2024 02:01 AM
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=H&SPick=20170&cosponId=24168
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House Co-Sponsorship Memoranda

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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: June 16, 2017 02:38 PM
From: Representative Jeff C. Wheeland
To: All House members
Subject: Public Safety Facilities Act
 
I will soon introduce legislation to establish the Public Safety Facilities Act in Pennsylvania – legislation that will protect our law enforcement networks and the communities they serve by ensuring responsible timing, notice, and consideration of any proposed closure of structures that employ law enforcement personnel or house inmates.

In January of this year, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) announced imminent closures of two of five selected state correctional institutions in locations throughout the state. The announcement was made publicly under an expedited timeframe – less than one month. Little to no input or information was sought from directly affected parties and experts, including the facilities’ workforce, law enforcement communities, local governments, or elected officials. Additionally, this announcement was unfortunately reminiscent of one that occurred in 2013, in which the DOC closed two state correctional institutions without reasonable notice to public officials or to affected workers.

It is clear that the lack of notice and absence of clear procedures for evaluating proposed facility closures has only served to cause panic throughout our local communities, and most importantly to our affected workers and their families. Moreover, such autonomous decisions have similarly called into question the full impact on the commonwealth’s finances and the delivery of public safety services.

Accordingly, our legislation seeks to establish a clear process for consideration of proposed closures of state correctional institutions, as well as other structures that house state law enforcement staff, such as state police barracks. It is modeled after a law that was passed in New York after a similar closure debate. Specifically, this legislation would:
  • Establish a clear list of stakeholders who must be notified at least one year before a proposed closure is intended to occur.
  • Require the overseeing state agency to gather information from stakeholders, hold at least one public hearing at least six months prior to any closure, and provide a written report detailing their findings.

  • Permit the overseeing state agency to decide whether a facility may be closed, but only after strategies are developed to minimize the impact on our workforce, local and regional economies, and the delivery of law enforcement and public services.

  • Ensure that a facility may be closed without full regard to the newly established process if it poses an immediate threat to the life, health, or safety of any individual.

With this legislation, we hope to prevent any repeat of the negative impacts and undue stressors on our workforce and local communities that has accompanied the announcements of past closures.

I hope that you will join us in co-sponsoring this important legislation.



Introduced as HB1606