Stephens Bill to Protect Victims Calling For Help Passes Senate, Heads to Governor
HARRISBURG—Legislation sponsored by Rep. Todd Stephens (R-Montgomery) to protect victims who call for help has passed the Senate and will be sent to the governor for his signature.
The legislation passed the House unanimously in January and, since then, has been eyed as an amendment vehicle for many other initiatives. “I want to thank everyone at the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence for their tireless efforts to get this bill through the Senate without amendment and onto the Governor’s desk,” Stephens said.
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 Against Domestic Violence reports that at least 23 municipalities in Pennsylvania have ordinances that would penalize a victim for simply calling for help.
“Unfortunately, some municipalities have inadvertently adopted ordinances that would penalize crime victims simply for calling for help,” Stephens said. “That’s why we need this legislation.”
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.
That case was settled with the ACLU last month when Norristown agreed to revoke its "nuisance ordinance," which sought to evict renters who called police more than three times in four months.
“When someone is facing a life or death situation, they should not be thinking twice before calling 911,” Stephens said. “This legislation protects victims by ensuring they will not be penalized for seeking help.”
Representative Todd Stephens
151st District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: David Foster
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