House Judiciary Sub Committee to Hold Kayden’s Law Hearing in November
The House Judiciary Committee in November plans to hold a hearing on the proposed senate version of Kayden’s Law (SB 78) which was passed earlier this year.
The hearing, as part of the family law sub-committee is planned for November 15 at 9:30 am in Harrisburg, according to legislative records.
Senate Bill 78 is a bi-partisan effort by Senators Lisa Baker (R-20) and Steve Santarsiero (D-10), who serve as the Republican and Democratic chairs, respectively, of the Senate Judiciary Committee which was passed by the upper chamber in June in a 46 to 4 vote.
Mancuso, 7, of Lower Makefield was murdered by her father, Jeff in August of 2018 during a unsupervised overnight visit. At the time, her mother Kathryn Sherlock, vehemently opposed the visit.
Sherlock has turned her personal pain, grief, and loss into a call for change on how the courts handle and decide visitation for parents who have a history of violence and or mental health issues.
State Representative Tina Davis (D-Bucks) who co-sponsored the house version of the bill with Rep Perry Warren (D-Bucks) said she was unsure of who would be testifying at the hearing on SB 78.
She said Democratic House leadership was unsure at the moment who would be added to the witness list for the public hearing.
We’ll know more in the days ahead, Davis said.
Following Kayden’s murder, the family launched Kayden’s Korner in her memory, with the mission “to affect judicial reform of the family court system through the education of government to the signs of domestic abuse, shine a light on the impact of mental illness and lobby government to make the health and safety of children the singular concern of the court system”
Since passing the Senate, legislative sources hoped the same bi-partisan spirit would occur for support of the bill in the House. A source familiar with the proceedings said Democrats supporting the bill hoped Baker’s support and now prime sponsorship of the measure would help with getting Kayden’s Law through the House.
The measure was originally introduced in the fall of 2019, by Santarsiero, Davis and Warren
Baker after the bill passed this summer said “too many terrible tragedies are explained away with the unacceptable excuse that no system can protect everyone or anticipate the actions of individuals intent on violence,” said Sen. Baker. “Our responsibility in protecting children is to take every reasonable step available to keep them from harm’s way and prevent a repetition of what happened to Kayden. Without this change in the law, the system would remain tilted to the detriment of the interests and safety of at-risk children.”
“We have been working so hard for years now to see this day for justice for Kayden and for all the kids who are put in harms way by family courts every single day,” said Sherlock in June.
“Kayden’s Law could have saved my daughter if it had been in place in 2018. Let’s hope it helps other children suffering and at risk right now.”
“No child in Pennsylvania should ever be left alone with an abuser, period. Kayden’s Law will help ensure that that never happens again,” Santarsiero said after SB 78 was approved by the Senate.
Chair of the Judiciary Committee, state Rep Rob Kaufman (R-Franklin County) on Monday did not respond to requests for comment about who will be testifying at the November family law sub committee meeting.
The ACLU of Pennsylvania opposes the law because “would require an evidentiary hearing during child custody proceedings to vet allegations—new or old—of abuse. The primary change proposed by SB 78 is to create a presumption that a parent with any history of abuse (no matter how old) against any household member will only be allowed supervised visitation. SB 78 specifically removes the requirement that a threat be ongoing”
Santarseiro and Warren also declined to respond to requests for comment for this story.