Government & Politics
5:17 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

In PA Legislature, Package of Bills Addresses Issues from 'Revenge Porn' to Pay Equity

A group of Pennsylvania state lawmakers is gathering momentum on a package of bills that deal with issues as diverse as “revenge porn” and pay equity.

Sen. Judy Schwank (D-Berks County) said the overarching theme is that all seven bills deal with strengthening the lives of women in Pennsylvania. 

“When women are healthy and protected by Pennsylvania’s laws, Pennsylvania families will be stronger and more stable,” said Schwank, who co-chairs the Legislature’s Women’s Health Caucus. “This package is a major step in that direction.”

As is common with these types of efforts, each bill has a different lead sponsor. Schwank’s measure, Senate Bill 1167, would target so-called “revenge porn” by banning the publication any photo or video identifying another person, who is naked or engaging in a sexual act, without the person’s consent. 

“In many cases this is an issue of control,” said Schwank, who likens it to domestic violence and notes it is often used to keep young women in toxic relationships. 

Sen. Matt Smith (D-Allegheny County) is introducing Senate Bill 1209, which would require employers to make reasonable accommodations related to pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions.

“This is a necessary and commonsense measure that will allow workers to remain employed throughout their pregnancy while imposing few additional requirements on employers,” Smith said.

The bill does allow for exemptions if the needed accommodations would prove an undue hardship on the employer’s operations.

Also in the package is SB 1212 sponsored by Sen. Rob Teplitz (D-York), which would strengthen Pennsylvania’s Pay Equity Law by clarifying and updating the legal standards for pay-equity lawsuits.     

Sen. Larry Farnese’s measure, Senate Bill 1208, would create a 15-foot buffer zone around health care facilities. The goal according to Farnese (D-Philadelphia) is to allow women to have access to the services while at the same time allowing protesters to exercise their First Amendment rights. 

The other bills deal with sanitary conditions for nursing mothers, increased eligibility for breast and cervical cancer screenings and equitable protections for domestic violence victims.     

Smith said these are not just bills that help women. 

“If Pennsylvania is going to prosper, we can’t ignore the needs of over half of our population,” he said.

The bills were sent to various committees and will not be addressed until January at the earliest.