Solomon, Taylor introduce legislation to increase penalties for nuisance offenses

PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 19 – State Rep. Jared Solomon, D-Phila., has joined Rep. John Taylor R-Phila., to introduce two bills that would amend the Crimes Code to address chronic nuisance issues that cause problems for downtowns and neighborhoods throughout Pennsylvania.

“During the last 10 years, we have provided innovative new laws to help local governments, like Philadelphia, fight blight,” Taylor said. “This legislation gives us new tools in that struggle. Nuisance acts depress property values and deter investment in our communities, large and small.”

“The nuisances outlined in the legislation threaten the public health, safety and welfare of residents in neighborhoods across our commonwealth,” Solomon said. “These two bills would not only assist with decreasing these petty acts, but also help improve the appearance of our communities both big and small in all 67 counties.”

The first bill, House Bill 1812, groups littering, loitering, and disorderly conduct under the umbrella of "chronic nuisances," and creates incrementally higher penalties for such incidents with this grouping.

The bill increases existing fines for the following offenses when committed two or more times within a two-year period; graffiti, scattering rubbish, public drunkenness, loitering and public nuisances.

Fines will be doubled for a second offense, and tripled for a third or subsequent offense. Under current law, the fines vary. The first offense for a non-traffic summary offense is $300, for loitering it is $2,500, and an offender convicted of being a public nuisance faces a fine of $5,000.

The second bill, House Bill 1813, increases the penalties for littering in an attempt to deter the act and to help local municipalities eradicate this behavior.

House Bill 1813 amends the Crimes Code to increase the minimum and maximum fine amounts for scattering rubbish. The fine for the first summary offense, currently $50-$300, would be increased to $100-$500.  The second and subsequent offenses-- a third-degree misdemeanor—would be increased from $300-$1,000 to $500-$1,500.

The bill also dedicates one-third of any fines collected for the crime of scattering rubbish to the municipality where the offense occurred for litter remediation, which includes purchasing, maintaining or emptying outdoor trash cans, providing sweeping or cleaning services for sidewalks and streets, and litter prevention programs.

“By increasing the penalties for causing chronic nuisances, these bills will raise awareness of the problem these nuisance crimes create for law-abiding residents and business owners in our communities, and they will give new tools to local municipalities to help eradicate these unlawful acts,” Taylor said.