HARRISBURG – Voters are one step closer to having the opportunity to decide if a victims bill of rights should be added to the Pennsylvania Constitution after the House today passed Marsy’s Law legislation authored by Rep. Sheryl Delozier (R-Cumberland).
“I’m pleased my House colleagues again have supported this legislation to give victims constitutional protections,” Delozier said. “We are not seeking to give victims more rights than the accused. Instead, we want both parties in a criminal proceeding to have equal footing throughout the process. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to pass this legislation quickly so that the voters can voice their opinion.”
House Bill 276
would change the state Constitution and ensure crime victims have the right to receive information about their rights, receive notification of proceedings in their criminal cases, be present at court hearings, be heard at plea and sentencing proceedings, and be treated with fairness, respect and dignity.
Last session, Marsy’s Law, in the form of Senate Bill 1011, passed both chambers of the General Assembly. Identical language, which is contained in Delozier’s bill, must be passed this session and then approved by voters through a ballot referendum before it can be included in the Constitution. Pennsylvania is one of only nine state Constitutions without statutory rights for victims.
Marsy’s Law is named after Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas of California, who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. Only one week after Marsy’s death, her mother and brother, Henry Nicholas, walked into a grocery store where they were confronted by the accused murderer. The family, who had just come from a visit to Marsy’s grave, was unaware that the accused had been released on bail. To honor his sister, Nicholas has made it his life’s mission to give victims and their families constitutional protections and equal rights.
The bill now goes to the Senate for its consideration.
The 88th Legislative District in Cumberland County includes Lower Allen and Upper Allen townships and the boroughs of Lemoyne, Mechanicsburg, New Cumberland, Shiremanstown and Wormleysburg.
Representative Sheryl Delozier
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Tracy Polovick