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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: October 31, 2017 03:37 PM
From: Representative Ron Marsico
To: All House members
Subject: Adam Walsh Act
In the near future, I will introduce legislation to address the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision in Commonwealth v. Muniz. In that case, the court held that the Commonwealth’s sexual offender registration act, commonly known as Megan’s Law or the Adam Walsh Act, could not be applied to defendants who committed their crimes before the enactment of the Adam Walsh Act in 2012 based on both the U.S. Constitution and the Pennsylvania Constitution. If left unaddressed, this case may require more than 10,000 sexual offenders to be removed from the state sexual offender registry. It is my belief that these defendants still should have to register with the Pennsylvania State Police as sexual offenders.

The Commonwealth first enacted Megan’s Law during the Special Session on Crime (Session of 1995-1996). In 1999, our state Supreme Court ruled that some parts of the 1995 law were unconstitutional, so in 2000 the Commonwealth enacted Megan’s Law II to cure the constitutional defects of the first version. Four years later, in 2004, the General Assembly working with Governor Rendell dramatically enhanced Megan’s Law. Among other things, the new law, Megan’s Law III, required that information about sex offenders and sexually violent predators be publicly accessible by website. Subsequent minor refinements further improved Megan’s Law III. In 2012, the General Assembly enacted legislation to implement the federal Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act. This current law is sometimes referred to as the Adam Walsh Act or SORNA: the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act.

To allow potentially dangerous sex offenders to escape registration, as the Muniz decision provides, does not move the Commonwealth forward. Indeed, the decision is a step backward in terms of the safety and security of the Commonwealth’s citizens. Consequently, my legislation is designed to do two things. First, it will conform the Adam Walsh Act to the decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Muniz by preventing retroactive application of the law. Second, and more importantly, it will require those sex offenders who have not yet finished their period of registration to continue to register with the Pennsylvania State Police. The legislation accomplishes this by putting back in place the safety net that the Commonwealth had under Megan’s Law III, the protections of which have been upheld by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Please join me in cosponsoring this important piece of legislation.

Introduced as HB1952