Stephens Bill to Protect Victims Calling For Help Passes House
HARRISBURG—Legislation sponsored by Rep. Todd Stephens (R-Montgomery) to protect victims who call for help has unanimously passed the House. 
House Bill 1796 prohibits a municipal ordinance from penalizing a resident or landlord if police or emergency assistance was dispatched in response to an individual needing intervention or emergency assistance.

While the bill preserves a municipality’s ability to combat nuisance properties and false alarms, the Pennsylvania Coalition of Domestic Violence reports that at least 23 municipalities in Pennsylvania have ordinances that would penalize a victim for simply calling for help.

“Many municipalities narrowly draft their ordinances, but others have gone too far, which requires this legislation,” Stephens said.

The bill was prompted by a situation in Norristown that drew national attention. In that case, according to reports, a woman suffering from a serious stab wound to her neck asked neighbors not to call 911 because she would be evicted pursuant to a local ordinance the municipality had adopted. When the woman lost consciousness due to her injuries, an ambulance was summoned and she was taken to a hospital. Norristown subsequently forced the woman’s landlord to evict her. The case is now the subject of a federal lawsuit brought by the ACLU.

“No one should think twice before calling 911 if someone is in danger,” Stephens said. “This legislation protects victims by ensuring they will not be penalized for seeking help.”

The bill moves to the Senate for consideration.

Representative Todd Stephens
151st District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: David Foster
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