Hit-and-run law stalls in Harrisburg

A state Senate bill to increase hit-and-run penalties has stalled in Harrisburg and supporters have little confidence it will get passed this year.

In June, the Senate transportation committee voted 11-1 to raise the minimum sentence for leaving the scene of an accident where a victim suffers serious injury from 90 days to a year, and from one to three years for fatal hit-and-runs. The bolstered penalties would put Pennsylvania on par with surrounding states. State and Philadelphia police have already publicly supported the increases.

Despite that, Scott Sikorski, legislative director for appropriations chair Sen. Jake Corman, where the bill awaits a vote, said prison overcrowding and budgetary strains make the bill “difficult to support.”

Sens. Mike Stack and Lawrence Farnese, who are pushing for increased penalties, aren’t happy. Stack said Senate Republicans have deemed hit-and-runs a “low priority.”

“Our neighbors take it more seriously than we do,” Stack said. “We can only do so much if they refuse to schedule a vote. It looks like they’re being soft on crime.”

Farnese understood budgetary concerns, but “it’s not like we’re putting people in jail who aren’t criminals. People are getting killed, maimed, lives being taken away.” He’ll push for a pledge from Senate leadership to get it on the legislative schedule but “maybe not this term.”

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