The recent not guilty verdict of Casey Anthony involving the death of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, has inspired two bills that are now on the floor of the Pennsylvania House. My colleagues and I share a common agreement that Pennsylvania needs to protect its children.

I was flooded with constituent emails and phone calls during the Casey Anthony trial urging for stronger child protection laws to avoid more deaths like Caylee's, or to ensure strict legal consequences for a perpetrator of child abuse.

House Bills 1841 and 1842, together known as "Caylee's Law," recently passed through the House Judiciary Committee. House Bill 1841 would increase the penalties for the crime of making false reports to police during a criminal investigation involving a child, while House Bill 1842 would strengthen the penalties for concealing the death of a child. I am optimistic these laws will pass through the General Assembly because my colleagues and I understand that Pennsylvania needs to send a strong message that those who commit crimes against children will face serious penalties for doing so.

The "Caylee's Law" package would make it a felony for a parent or guardian to conceal the death of a child, or provide false information to police during a criminal investigation involving a child. Currently, those crimes are only misdemeanors. The proposed laws would also increase offenders' maximum penalties to seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine. The legislation ensures the law applies to a natural parent, stepparent, adoptive parent, guardian, a person responsible for the child's welfare, including babysitters, teachers and coaches, any individual living in the same home as the child or a paramour of the child's parent.

Many members of the Legislature, myself included, believe the tragic child-related abuse cases we have witnessed over the past year demand the enactment of stronger laws protecting children from abuse, neglect and sexual assault. That's why I support "Caylee's Law," as I believe it has measures to put teeth in the statute to protect the well-being of Pennsylvania's children.

As Carbon County's voice in Harrisburg, I'll continue to push for legislation which best serves the needs of my constituents. As these issues and legislative pieces progress in upcoming months, I'll continue to keep my district informed.

By DOYLE HEFFLEY

State Representative, 122nd Dist.