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Bucks Lawmakers Introduce Measure to Protect Girls from Upskirting

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Two Bucks County lawmakers want stiffer charges and penalties for those facing upskirting charges.

State Reps. Wendy Ullman, D-Bucks, and Craig Staats, R-Bucks, announced Tuesday they have introduced H.B. 2453, which would increase the charges that can be brought against teachers and adults who victimize students and minors through upskirting — the taking of photographs under a girl’s skirt and then posting them online.

The measure would make the offense a third-degree felony for a first violation and a second-degree felony for subsequent offenses. 

Upskirting is an extremely traumatic form of sexual abuse that violates a victim’s sense of autonomy, personal safety, trust and very selfhood,” Ullman said. “Our legislation seeks to provide justice for victims by making the punishment fit the crime.”

Currently, the only criminal charges that can be brought against the victimizer are misdemeanors, similar to the charges for shoplifting – up to one year in prison and up to a $2,500 fine in exchange for a lifetime of trauma.

Ullman and Staats pointed to a upskirting incident that happened to several young women in a school district that they share, where a male teacher took “upskirt” photographs and posted them to illicit websites. 

Francis Reppert, Jr, 26 of Quakertown, an ex-Palisaides School District teacher and tennis coach, was the man charged for taking those upskirting images of female students and sharing them, earlier this year. 

The issue of upskirting has gained national and international coverage over the last few years, with the United Kingdom, criminalizing the behavior in recent years. 

Nationally, Ohio and California and Alabama have put upskirting laws on the books in recent years. 

“These are selfish, humiliating acts against innocent children, and the current penalties are woefully insufficient,” Staats said. “It is time the perpetrators of child sex crimes suffer real consequences for their actions and this bill helps to achieve that.” 

The measure has been refereed to the House Judiciary Committee for consideration. 

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Human Interest - Bensalem Township

Bucks Co Appoints New CEO of Library System

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Bucks County has a new library system director.

The Bucks County Free Library (BCFL) Board of Directors appointed Dana Barber as the library system’s new chief executive officer at their June 17, 2024 board meeting.

She assumed the role beginning on July 15.

Barber has served as director of the Margaret R Grundy Memorial Library in Bristol Borough for the past 10 years, with a focus on creating strategic partnerships to enhance library services.

She received the 2023 Certificate of Merit from the Pennsylvania Library Association in recognition of her leadership skills.

“I’m looking forward to working with the dedicated team at BCFL to continue to enhance library services and foster meaningful relationships with patrons and partners,” Barber said.

Barber is excited by the new opportunity to share her vision for public library services as leader of the county system.

“Our libraries are vibrant community hubs providing access to high-quality information, essential support and education, and equitable spaces. They truly are for everyone!” she said.

Outgoing Chief Executive Officer, Martina Kominiarek, has served as the library’s CEO for more than 20 years.

“With Dana at the helm, I’m confident we’ll continue to thrive and innovate, serving our communities in even more dynamic and impactful ways,” she said.

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Human Interest - Bensalem Township

Rep Davis: We’re Addressing Constituent Complaints on Proposed Aqua Rate Increase

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State Rep Tina Davis said recently we have heard your concerns regarding the proposed AQUA rate increase and I have signed on to a letter to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission opposing AQUA’s request.

“Aqua made the request to the PUC, citing the need to improve the system’s infrastructure. While I agree that improvements are needed, customers’ bills currently include distribution system improvement charges, indicating that funds are already being allocated for the infrastructure updates.”

Also, the net income of Essential Utilities, AQUA’s parent company, grew 7% in 2023, therefore, it is apparent that the company is profitable and financially stable, Davis said

What can you do about this? Here is the link where you can file your concerns with the PUC regarding this proposal.

The PUC will also schedule public hearings on the proposed rate hike. Please follow my Facebook and X pages as we will update when the dates of the hearings are announced. she said.

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Human Interest - Bensalem Township

Prokopiak Measure to Increase Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program Becomes Law as Part of State Budget Package

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State Rep. Jim Prokopiak’s bill that will help Pennsylvania’s economy by expanding the state Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program was included in a Fiscal Code bill, which was signed into law by Gov. Josh Shapiro on July 11.

Prokopiak initially proposed expanding the Historic Preservation Tax Credit from $5 million to $20 million, starting in 2025 as H.B. 2358. The language of the legislation was added into the Fiscal Code bill, which is part of the state budget package. 

 “Investing in preserving our historic structures does two things,” Prokopiak said. “It not only helps to better tell the story of our commonwealth’s history, but it also is an economic driver as it helps turn these structures into income-producing properties.”

 Every $1 million invested into an historic rehabilitation project generates 6.4 direct jobs and 5.6 indirect jobs in Pennsylvania, which outperforms every other industry, according to Prokopiak.

 Of the 37 states that have a similar tax credit, Pennsylvania had the fourth-lowest cap of $5 million. The increased investment is necessary, as the need for funding is greater than the cap, Prokopiak said. For the 2022-23 fiscal year, 31 projects requesting a total of $12.7 million in tax credits were forwarded to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission for approval of the projects’ rehabilitation plan. With the annual program cap set at $5 million, 22 of those projects were ultimately awarded credits, using 100% of the total amount available.

 Prokopiak represents the 140th Legislative District comprising Falls, Morrisville, Tullytown and part of Middletown in Bucks County.

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