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Senate Co-Sponsorship Memoranda

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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: September 19, 2019 12:09 PM
From: Senator Thomas H. Killion and Sen. John R. Gordner
To: All Senate members
Subject: Emergency Protection From Abuse (PFA) Orders
In the near future, we intend to introduce legislation that would allow local courts to extend the time period for the expiration of emergency PFA relief.

Under current law, victims of domestic abuse may seek emergency relief from a Magisterial District Judge after regular business hours. The emergency relief, however, expires at the close of the next business day when the Court of Common Pleas is available. Although the Courts of Common Pleas are open during weekdays, they often schedule PFA hearings for specific days of the week. Presently, in order to maintain emergency relief, the domestic violence victim must return to court multiple times until a final hearing occurs in the Court of Common Pleas.

Our legislation would allow the Court of Common Pleas to adopt a rule to extend the time period for emergency orders. Under the bill, instead of expiring at the end of the next business day, emergency relief would expire upon the commencement of a hearing in the Court of Common Pleas within 10 business days. A petitioner may still request a temporary order from the Common Pleas Court at any time prior to the final hearing.

This legislation is the result of much work done by Senator Greenleaf and members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who received testimony during a public hearing held by the Committee last Session. Our legislation will be similar to SB 1274 which was introduced and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee during the final weeks of the 2017-18 Session.

We believe strongly that this bill would help better facilitate protection orders from abuse for domestic violence victims in communities all throughout the Commonwealth; and further build upon the successful efforts we have had in protecting these victims.

Please join us in co-sponsoring this important legislation.

Introduced as SB1031