Harrisburg, PA – A bill passed that both Democrats and Republicans can agree on… PA House Bill 930 was signed into law, requiring law enforcement agencies to deliver the DNA of a missing person, missing child, or unidentified deceased person to the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) for submission to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NAMUS).
Read the press release from the PA House of Representatives GOP Caucus:
The loved ones of Pennsylvania’s more than 400 missing persons now have at their disposal a tool that is described as vital for keeping memories alive, thanks to legislation co-authored by state Reps. Lynda Schlegel Culver (R-Northumberland/Snyder) and Dave Millard (R-Columbia) that has been signed into law.
“The toll on a missing person’s family and loved ones is unimaginable,” said Culver. “The terror they feel at hearing the news is horrific…always wondering how and where it happened, as well as where are they now haunts them. I’m so happy to see House Bill 930 signed into law (as Act 4 of 2022), especially for the families who came forward and generously shared their stories with us, which I know could not have been easy for them.”
Act 4 now requires the Pennsylvania State Police to turnover DNA samples of missing persons and unidentified decedents to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NAMUS), a nationwide clearinghouse that went online in 2008. NAMUS has expanded in subsequent years by linking with other national databases and collaborated with the FBI in 2012 to add a fingerprint unit to its search capability.
“It’s been my pleasure to work with Representative Culver on this legislation from start to finish,” Millard said. “NAMUS offers a unique feature that allows family members of missing persons to access the database and play an active role in the search for their loved one at no financial cost, as they look for closure in these cases which may have gone cold.”
“Before we began to research the bill, I had never heard of NAMUS and didn’t understand how or why it worked,” added Culver. “We were quickly contacted by families across the state concerning the importance of this database in locating missing persons.”
“Every week in communities across the Commonwealth, we hear an Amber Alert or see a headline that indicates an elderly person with dementia, or a high school student thought to be studying at a friend’s house, is missing,” said Millard. “While many of these cases get resolved quickly, there are far too many that do not. We hope Act 4 will be of help.”
Read the press release from Governor Tom Wolf’s office:
Governor Tom Wolf signed House Bill 930, House Bill 1121, House Bill 1304, House Bill 1479, and House Bill 1588 into law. The governor vetoed House Bill 979.
Feb. 3 is National Missing Persons Day, and House Bill 930 requires law enforcement agencies to deliver the DNA of a missing person, missing child, or unidentified deceased person to the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) for submission to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NAMUS).
House Bill 1121 designates the bridge, identified as Bridge Key 45676, carrying Pennsylvania Route 26 over Yellow Creek in Hopewell Township, Bedford County, as the Colonel Joseph M. Stine Memorial Bridge.
House Bill 1304 designates a bridge, identified as Bridge Key 48382 on the portion of S.R. 4021 over the Stonycreek River, Hooversville Borough, Somerset County, as the Private First Class Howard Hahn Memorial Bridge.
House Bill 1479 designates a portion of Pennsylvania Route 31 from Strikertown Road to Renaissance Lane in South Huntingdon Township, Westmoreland County, as the John Michael Beyrand Memorial Highway.
House Bill 1588 makes permanent a temporary waiver granted early in the pandemic, which allows mortgage lenders to conduct business remotely. Under the new legislation, mortgage lenders have the flexibility to originate mortgage loans from traditional brick and mortar locations, and may also conduct business from remote locations so long as they comply with specific consumer protection requirements.
Gov. Wolf vetoed House Bill 979, which would have provided that a person adversely affected by an ordinance, resolution, rule, practice or other action promulgated or enforced by a county, municipality or township in violation of the limitations placed by state law on the regulations of firearms and ammunition may seek a declarative or injunctive relief and actual damages. The bill also would have amended the Municipal Code to state that the General Assembly has always intended and continues to intend to occupy the entire field of the regulation of firearms, ammunition, magazines, accessories, firearm components, and ammunition components in the commonwealth, including the purchase, sale, transfer, taxation, manufacture ownership, possession, use, discharge, transportation, and related reporting of loss or theft.
This legislation would have discouraged local jurisdictions from attempting to regulate firearms. In addition, it would have provided an opportunity for individuals to challenge local ordinances and sue a county, municipality, or township that violates the prohibition on stricter firearms laws. Philadelphia, which has seen more gun violence-related deaths in 2022 than days in January, potentially would have been unable to enforce local laws that were created to curb the violence and save families and communities from continued heartache.
Read Gov. Wolf’s House Bill 979 veto message:
Pursuant to Article IV, Section 15 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, I am returning herewith, without my approval, House Bill 979, Printer’s Number 1706.This legislation is an attack on local governments who take action to find commonsense solutions to gun violence and is yet another bill that shows indifference to the safety of Pennsylvanians.
During a time when injuries and deaths from gun violence are spiking, House Bill 979 would discourage local jurisdictions from attempting to regulate firearms. In addition, it provides an opportunity for individuals to challenge local ordinances and sue a county, municipality, or township that violates the prohibition on stricter firearms laws. Under House Bill 979, Philadelphia, which saw more gun violence-related deaths than days in January, may have difficulty enforcing local laws that were created to curb the violence and save families and communities from continued heartache.
When I vetoed Senate Bill 565 of 2021, a bill that would have allowed unvetted gun owners to carry concealed weapons through our streets, I stated that these victims and communities deserve to have meaningful legislation passed to address the scourge of gun violence. I stand by that. I have offered many ideas that would help keep Pennsylvanians safe while respecting the rights of responsible gun owners, including legislation to require safe storage, authorize extreme risk protection orders, enhance reporting requirements for lost or stolen guns and close gaps in the background check system – and yet, I have not received a bill from the General Assembly that seeks to address this issue in a meaningful way. Instead, I have received a bill that seeks to attack local governments who wish to find solutions for those that they serve. I urge the Republican-controlled General Assembly to stop enabling the problem and step up to be a part of the solution.
For the reasons set forth above, I must withhold my signature from House Bill 979, Printer’s Number 1706.