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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: January 3, 2019 01:49 PM
From: Representative Karen Boback
To: All House members
Subject: Hot Car Immunity - Children
In the near future, I will be re-introducing legislation (HB 2276 from the 2015-2016 Legislative Session and HB 1152 from the 2017-2018 Legislative Session) to help the community protect children that may be in danger. This bill will provide civil immunity for any damage that may be done to a vehicle when forceful entry is necessary to rescue a child.

All too often, we hear news reports involving young children being left in a hot car – sometimes with tragic results. According to the nonprofit organization KidsAndCars.org, on a yearly average, 38 children die heat-related deaths as a result of being trapped inside motor vehicles. Even the best of parents or caregivers can unknowingly leave a sleeping baby in a car. My bill will encourage passers-by to take a second look, contact law enforcement, and step in to help when necessary.

The immunity only applies when the person is acting reasonably under the circumstances: He or she must have a good faith belief that the child in imminent danger of suffering harm, and must have determined that the vehicle is locked and there is otherwise no reasonable method for the child to be removed. Also, prior to forcibly entering the vehicle, the person must have contacted or attempted to contact law enforcement.

There have been instances where people describe situations they’ve observed involving other peoples’ children that made them uncomfortable, but they always end up explaining that they “didn’t want to get involved” or “didn’t know what to do.” As a "good samaritan" no one should be subjected to a civil law suit. Far more than the cost of a new car window, this bill is about educating people and providing a level of comfort that enables them to step in when appropriate.

As most of you are aware, the partner legislation for pets was passed by the House and Senate, was signed into the law by Governor Wolf and took effect on December 24th. However, consideration of this companion legislation from the past two Legislative Sessions allowing for the rescue of children was not completed before the end of the 2017-2018 Legislative Session.

As the Chairman of the House Children & Youth Committee I feel this legislation needs to be expedited immediately and I hope you will join me in sponsoring this proposal - it could save a life.

Introduced as HB279