State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.
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Senate proposal could expand AG's prosecutorial powers

Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | May 18, 2017 2:57 AM
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Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro. (Photo by AP)

 

(Harrisburg) -- Several state lawmakers are planning to introduce a package of proposals that would allow the state Office of the Attorney General to prosecute local officials for corruption.

Currently, the AG is limited to prosecuting at the state and federal levels.

The three bills in the package are on track to be introduced in the next few weeks. They're sponsored by a bipartisan group of senators, and their creation was inspired by a corruption case involving an incinerator project that racked up hundreds of millions of dollars in debt in Harrisburg.

Democrat John Blake, of Lackawanna County, is sponsoring the bill that expands the AG's duties. He said it would make it easier for the state to prosecute important local cases.

"Under the current circumstances, if there was a situation where there's been some [local] corruption, the only reason that the AG gets involved in that is if the local official refers it," he said. "That was a time-consuming process."

Blake noted, the change would incur some costs.

"I think the Attorney General himself said that if his powers were so-expanded, he would require a budgetary adjustment to deal with that," he said. "It could require additional prosecutors, it could require additional resources, and I think that's something we need to be mindful of."

Blake said he hasn't yet looked into precedents for expanding the AG's powers in other states, but plans to. He's also awaiting feedback from local district attorneys, who would also be affected.

The two other bills in the package would allow public corruption prosecution even after an official leaves office, and expand government bidding requirements for service contracts.

Published in News, State House Sound Bites

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