We accomplished a good deal in the Legislature this year. In particular, I am proud of the child protection measures we were able to pass and have signed into law. Following the Jerry Sandusky scandal, we formed a Task Force on Child Protection and took a hard look at how best to improve Pennsylvania's laws regarding the protection of our children. Before we completed the 2013 session, we had nine bills signed into law. They include proposals to update the definition of a perpetrator, clarify mandates for reporting child abuse and accountability, and establish due process protections in the case of false reports. For more information on these and other child protection measures currently before the House, visit my website at www.JulieHarhart.com. Several other child protection measures are expected to be voted upon in the Senate and sent on to the governor in 2014, including my legislation to establish a funding source for the state's child advocacy centers.
On another important note regarding children, I want to stress that Pennsylvania's Megan's Law was not affected by the recent state Supreme Court ruling that a prior version of the law was unconstitutional because its enactment violated the single subject rule. In order to comply with new federal requirements, the Legislature worked in 2011 to modernize Megan's Law. The 2011 legislation replaced the law that was before the court. Because of the proactive work of the Legislature, executive branch and law enforcement stakeholders, virtually nothing has changed with regard to the registration requirements for those who commit sex offenses in Pennsylvania.
Other big news in the Legislature in 2013 was the passage of transportation funding legislation, which was signed into law. When it comes to roads and bridges, Pennsylvania is among the worst states in the nation. We are home to 6,500 structurally deficient bridges and have approximately 36 percent of our major roads rated in poor to mediocre condition. To make matters worse, the last time Pennsylvania invested new dollars into transportation funding was in 1997. The new law will infuse an additional $7.36 billion over a period of five years. This will be accomplished through a combination of tax shifts and adjustments to user fees. In addition to roads and bridges, mass transit will also benefit from the new state funding plan.
In an effort to better protect the public, we approved and had legislation signed into law to address the growing list of substances used to manufacture drugs closely related to banned "bath salts" and synthetic marijuana. This is aimed at combating the practice of illegal drug manufacturers who continue to find new synthetic compounds not on the controlled substances list in which to create new harmful drug cocktails that are infiltrating our communities. The new law provides the needed updates to the controlled substances list in order for law enforcement to be able to continue to track, apprehend and prosecute those who manufacture illegal drugs.
Of course, we also passed the 2013-14 state budget, which held the line on spending, did not raise taxes and provided record investment in education. In fact, the budget invests more than $10 billion for kindergarten through 12th-grade schools – which marks the highest amount of state dollars ever devoted to education.
For more information on our 2013 accomplishments, visit my web site, and click on the "Legislative Accomplishments" banner.