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PRINTER'S NO. 2622
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA
HOUSE BILL
No.
1889
Session of
2019
INTRODUCED BY JOHNSON-HARRELL, McCLINTON, KINSEY, HOHENSTEIN,
A. DAVIS, KOSIEROWSKI, SANCHEZ, CEPHAS, SCHLOSSBERG, FREEMAN,
ZABEL, HARRIS, YOUNGBLOOD, CALTAGIRONE, STURLA, HOWARD,
FIEDLER, ULLMAN, FITZGERALD, DRISCOLL, MURT, T. DAVIS,
SOLOMON, SHUSTERMAN, CIRESI, CRUZ, WILLIAMS AND WARREN,
SEPTEMBER 26, 2019
REFERRED TO COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2019
AN ACT
Providing for the establishment and funding of a center to
conduct research on gun violence in this Commonwealth.
The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
hereby enacts as follows:
Section 1. Short title.
This act shall be known and may be cited as the Center for
Gun Violence Research Act.
Section 2. Findings.
The General Assembly finds and declares the following:
(1) Gun violence is a significant public health crisis
and public safety problem in this Commonwealth and
nationwide. Nationally, rates of fatal gun violence have
remained essentially unchanged for more than a decade, as
declines in homicide have been offset by increases in
suicide.
(2) For the decade ending in 2010, Pennsylvania had
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12,941 gun-related deaths, which ranked fourth-highest in the
United States. During that same decade, the rate of gun
homicides among children and teens in this Commonwealth
ranked as one of the highest in the nation.
(3) The annual cost of gun violence across the United
States is estimated to be more than $100 billion and could be
as high as $229 billion per year.
(4) Too little is known about gun violence, its causes
and the best practices for its prevention. There is a
substantial need for publicly funded academic research in gun
violence. The need for more research and more sophisticated
research is critical in fighting the plague of gun violence
in our schools and communities.
(5) Federal funding for gun violence research through
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was
effectively eliminated by Congress in 1996 through the
passage of a provision known as the Dickey Amendment.
(6) It is the intent of this act to provide State
funding for gun violence research in place of the Federal
funding that has been curtailed by the Dickey Amendment.
Section 3. Definitions.
The following words and phrases when used in this act shall
have the meanings given to them in this section unless the
context clearly indicates otherwise:
"Center." The Center for Gun Violence Research established
under section 4.
"University." Any of the following:
(1) An independent institution of higher education
located in and incorporated or chartered by the Commonwealth,
entitled to confer degrees as set forth in 24 Pa.C.S. § 6505
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(relating to power to confer degrees) and entitled to apply
to itself the designation "college," "university" or
"seminary" as provided for by standards and qualifications
prescribed by the State Board of Education under 24 Pa.C.S.
Ch. 65 (relating to private colleges, universities and
seminaries).
(2) A State-owned institution.
(3) A State-related institution.
Section 4. Center for Gun Violence Research.
(a) Establishment.--There is established a research center
for gun violence in this Commonwealth. The center shall be
administered by a university selected by the Governor under
section 5(i).
(b) Mission.--The center's mission shall be to conduct
independent academic research on gun violence in this
Commonwealth and to provide policymakers, including the General
Assembly, the Governor, State agencies and local governments,
with scientific evidence to develop sound gun violence
prevention policies and programs.
(c) Nonpartisan research.--The center shall conduct research
on a nonpartisan basis.
Section 5. Location of center.
(a) Request for proposals.--Proposals for the location and
operation of the center shall be solicited through a request for
proposals.
(b) Public notice.--Public notice of the request for
proposals shall be given in the same manner as provided under 62
Pa.C.S. § 512(c) (relating to competitive sealed bidding).
(c) Receipt of proposals.--Universities shall submit
proposals in the form and time period as established by the
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evaluation committee established under subsection (e).
(d) Opening of proposals.--Proposals shall be opened in a
manner which avoids disclosure of the proposal's contents to
competing offerors.
(e) Evaluation committee.--An evaluation committee is
established to review all proposals and make recommendations to
the Governor as provided under subsection (h). The committee
shall be comprised of the following members:
(1) The Attorney General of Pennsylvania.
(2) The Secretary of Health.
(3) The Secretary of Human Services.
(4) The Secretary of Corrections.
(5) The Secretary of Education.
(6) The chair of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime
and Delinquency.
(7) The Commissioner of Pennsylvania State Police.
(f) Evaluation criteria.--The relative importance of the
evaluation factors shall be fixed prior to opening the
proposals. No individual who has been employed within the
preceding two years by an applying university may participate in
the evaluation of proposals.
(g) Discussion with responsible offerors and revision of
proposals.--The following shall apply:
(1) As provided in the request for proposals, the
evaluation committee may hold discussions with a university
for purposes of reviewing and clarifying the university's
proposal.
(2) A university shall be accorded fair and equal
treatment with respect to any opportunity for discussion,
review or revision of a proposal.
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(3) In conducting a discussion under paragraph (1), the
evaluation committee shall not disclose any information
derived from proposals submitted by competing universities.
(h) Recommendation to Governor.--The two universities whose
proposals are determined in writing to be the most advantageous
to this Commonwealth for carrying out the intent of this act and
the mission of the center shall be recommended to the Governor
for final selection.
(i) Selection by Governor.--Within 10 days of receipt of the
recommendations under subsection (h), the Governor shall select
the university to operate the center.
Section 6. Duties.
(a) General rule.--The center shall be responsible for
working on a continuing basis with the Governor, the General
Assembly and local governments to identify, implement and
evaluate innovative gun violence prevention policies and
programs.
(b) Methods.--The center shall conduct basic, translational
and transformative research using scientific-based methods to
develop and analyze gun violence prevention policies and
programs.
(c) Research.--The center shall conduct interdisciplinary
research that shall, at a minimum, include the following:
(1) The nature of gun violence, including individual and
societal determinants of risk for involvement in gun
violence, whether as a victim or a perpetrator.
(2) The individual, community and societal consequences
of gun violence.
(3) Prevention and treatment of gun violence at the
individual, community and societal levels.
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(4) Effectiveness of existing laws and policies intended
to reduce gun violence, including the criminal misuse of
firearms, and efforts to promote responsible ownership and
firearm use.
(5) Analysis of data and statistics of gun-related crime
that occurs in this Commonwealth.
(6) The financial impact of gun violence on this
Commonwealth, political subdivisions, hospitals, social
service agencies and other entities impacted by gun violence.
(d) Cooperation.--Unless specifically prohibited by law,
each State agency, county district attorney's office, local
police department and county or municipal health department
shall provide to the center, upon request, the data necessary
for the center to conduct the research required under this act.
(e) Reports.--Biennially, the center shall submit a report
to the Governor and the General Assembly on the center's
activities, including research projects completed during the
prior two years, current research projects and other information
the center deems relevant.
(f) Internet website.--The center shall maintain a publicly
accessible Internet website and post all of the center's
completed research.
Section 7. Funding.
(a) General Assembly.--The General Assembly shall annually
provide an appropriation to fund the activities of the center.
(b) Grants.--The following shall apply:
(1) The center may supplement the center's own research
by awarding competitive grants to nonprofit organizations
that conduct gun violence research.
(2) All research money shall be awarded on scientific
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merit as determined by an open and competitive peer review
process that assures objectivity, consistency and high
quality. All qualified investigators, regardless of
institutional affiliation, shall have equal access and
opportunity to compete for grant money.
(3) The peer review process for the selection of grants
awarded under this section shall be modeled on the grant-
making process used by the National Institutes of Health.
(4) All grants awarded under this subsection shall be
made from the appropriation provided by the General Assembly.
(c) Research by grantees.--Research completed by a nonprofit
organization through a grant awarded under subsection (b) shall:
(1) belong to the center;
(2) be posted on the center's publicly accessible
Internet website; and
(3) be distributed to the Governor and the General
Assembly.
(d) Submission for funding.--The university housing the
center shall, on an annual basis, submit a request for funding
to the Office of the Budget for inclusion in the Governor's
budget proposal. Funding for the center shall appear as a
separate line item in the Governor's proposed budget.
Section 8. Effective date.
This act shall take effect in 60 days.
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