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Senate Sends Bill Strengthening Protection From Abuse Orders To Governor

Amy Sisk
90.5 WESA
The capitol building in Harrisburg, Pa.

The state Senate voted to protect domestic violence victims and strengthen Protection From Abuse orders on Wednesday. But there was opposition from some Western Pennsylvania legislators.

Right now, people convicted of domestic violence must turn over their firearms, but they have 60 days to do so, and they can give the weapons to family members. House Bill 2060 requires the firearms be given to an authorized third party instead, and within one day. The measure passed the House earlier this month, though not before it became a political issue for state House Speaker Mike Turzai, and sailed through the Senate on a 43-to-5 vote today.


"HB 2060 will save lives, and I'm proud to have supported it," said Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) in a statement. "The bill will take firearms out of the hands of most abusers within 24 hours of a final PFA being issued."


But before passing the bill, the Senate considered an amendment that could have weakened the bill by loosening restrctions on who could hold onto the firearms.


Four area Republicans voted for the amendment. They included Washington County's Camera Bartolotta, Allegheny County's Guy Reschenthaler, Westmoreland County's Kim Ward, and Elder Vogel of Beaver, Butler and Lawrence counties.


Allegheny County Democrat Jim Brewster also backed the measure, and was the only Senate Democrat to do so.


The amendment failed by a 39-9 vote. Bartolotta and Ward also voted no on the final bill -- the only female Senators to oppose it -- as did Vogel. (Reschenthaler, who is running for Congress, voted in favor of the final bill, though he previously he was the lone vote against it in the Senate Judiciary Committee.)


Neither Reschenthaler nor Ward's offices responded to calls for comment on Wednesday's votes.


Even so, the measure passed easily and now goes to Governor Tom Wolf, who says he will sign it.

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