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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: April 27, 2017 11:56 AM
From: Senator David G. Argall and Sen. Lisa Baker, Sen. Michele Brooks, Sen. Wayne D. Fontana, Sen. John T. Yudichak
To: All Senate members
Subject: Public Safety Facilities Act
We 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 notice and consideration of any proposed closure of structures that employ individuals who provide law enforcement, security, or care custody, and control of 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 on January 6, 2016, and under an expedited timeframe, with a final decision set for January 26, 2016. Twenty days is an inadequate amount of time to solicit input and information from directly affected parties and experts, including the facilities’ workforce, local governments, and elected officials.

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 unnecessary negative impact or undue stress on our state employees and the local communities they serve.

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

Introduced as SB748