Harrisburg – July 24, 2012 – Two pieces of legislation dealing with criminal sentencing and changes to Pennsylvania’s tax law authored by state Sen. Jay Costa were merged into other legislation, passed by the General Assembly and signed into law.
“I am pleased that the two pieces of legislation that I put together were included in broader legislative proposals and signed into law by the governor,” Costa (D-Allegheny) said.
Sen. Costa’s SB 519 was amended into a sweeping prison reform proposal that was enacted as Act 122. The provisions of the measure clarify the burglary statute as it relates to three-strike sentencing.
As a leading voice for changes in correction policy, Costa spoke repeatedly on the Senate floor about the need to adopt strong sentencing reforms as a way to reduce mounting corrections costs. The reforms included in Act 122 are expected to save taxpayers $251 million over the next five years.
“For many years I served on the state sentencing commission and as Democratic chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee so I know about the costs of incarceration and how taxpayers have to confront costs,” Costa said. “I’ve been a proponent of alternative sentencing measures and more cost-effective methods of dealing with non-violent offenders.
“My legislation clearly defines burglary and how this offense should be interpreted as a part of the sentencing process.”
Costa said the other piece of legislation was amended into the tax code. Costa’s proposal exempts the transfer of real estate between a step-parent and a step-child from realty transfer taxes. This measure was signed into law as Act 85.
“The inclusion of language from my legislation – SB 593 – in the tax code was the most efficient way of ensuring its passage this session,” he said.
Costa said that the sentencing reform was a key aspect of the budget and policy priorities outlined by Senate Democrats.