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1st District Connection

Senator FarneseDear Constituent,

Welcome to another edition of First District Connection. I have information to share about several topics:

  • Senator Farnese Hears Testimony about DNA Backlog and DNA Testing

  • Legislative News

    • Senator Farnese Moves to Ban Synthetic “Bath Salts"

    • Senator Farnese Advocates for Strong Animal Protection

  • LIHEAP Extended Two Weeks

  Staying Connected, 
Sen. Larry Farnese  

Senator Farnese and Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing Examines DNA Backlog and DNA Testing

At the request of Senator Farnese, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a fact-finding hearing in Philadelphia to hear testimony about the State Police backlog in DNA testing and to consider a bill for expanded DNA testing for those charged with serious crimes such as rape and murder.

Senator Farnese called for the hearings following the arrest of a suspect in the case of the Kensington Strangler on the strength of a DNA match. It then came to light that the suspect’s DNA had been available since October but had not been entered into the database because of a two to three month backlog.

State Police Captain Robert Scott said that last year they received 1924 cases from active criminal investigations and 23, 938 convicted offender DNA samples for testing and upload into the database. They have 15 forensic scientists to perform this work with 9 support people. The 15 scientists are also responsible for training the 11 scientist-trainees that were hired last year. Last year the turnaround time was approximately 80 days. They are now turning the samples around in 60 days and hope to be at 30 days by mid-year; an ideal time would be one to two weeks.

Senator Farnese supports Senate Bill 775 because it strengthens law enforcement's capability to investigate crimes and puts in place further protection of the innocent.

As the bill is written, a cheek swab would be taken after the preliminary hearing and the court has determined that there is sufficient evidence to hold the defendant for court. This means that probable cause would have been established, and the person would have been charged with the crime.

This offers much more protection in terms of public safety, especially in rape cases where defendants may be granted bail. It is critical that an arrest be made as quickly as possible if there is a positive match, and just as important to eliminate innocent people--- for their sake and because it means the real rapist would still be on the loose.

Twenty four other states have already enacted such laws.

Legislative News

Senator Farnese Moves to Ban Synthetic “Bath Salts” 

Senator Larry Farnese will introduce legislation that would ban substances commonly known as ‘bath salts.’ These ‘bath salts’ are actually synthetic drugs that are used as an alternative to cocaine and have been shown to cause dangerous side effects such as extreme paranoia, hallucinations and disorientation, all of which can lead to extreme violent behavior. They are typically found in head shops, some convenience stores and on the internet. The products go by names like White Rush, White Girl and Blizzard.

Numerous crimes have been reported due to the use of these drugs, including one from West Pittston, PA that involved a couple hallucinating from bath salts. They nearly cut their 5-year-old daughter with the knives they were using to stab “the 90 people living in the walls’ of their apartment. At least one suicide has been reported due to the use of this drug, while others have reportedly committed dangerous self-mutilations and attempted other violent acts against others while under its influence.

Senator Farnese is committed to banning the substances, which offer a cheap high with deadly results.

  • Senator Farnese talks to CBS21 reporter Annie McCormick about his legislation to ban deadly synthetic drug known as 'bath salts.' Watch

  • Senator Farnese talks to radio host Chris Stigall about legislation to ban deadly, so-called 'bath salts.' Listen

 

Keep Puppy Mill Laws Strong 

Senator Larry Farnese has renewed his position for humane laws regarding puppy mills in Pennsylvania.

This is in response to a recent committee passage of House Resolution 89, which directs the Joint State Government Commission to study and review the economic impact of the 2008 Dog Law and the humane regulatory standards which were adopted at that time.

The sponsors of yesterday’s resolution claim that the new laws protecting animals have resulted in the loss of business for kennels and related businesses and also the loss of ‘potentially millions of dollars.’

Senator Farnese is committed to preserving the current law, which has already been voted on and enacted and provides for the basic standard of care for dogs.

LIHEAP Extended---Customers Urged to Act Now

PGW is urging customers to immediately apply for a Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) grant since the deadline has been extended to April 15, 2011.

Eligible customers who need their service restored or want to avoid a shut-off can receive hundreds of dollars in assistance.

For more information, visit www.pgworks.com or visit our District Office at 1802 South Broad St. Our phone number is 215-952-3121.

Offices of State Senator Larry Farnese