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Two law changes in 2013 include stiffer penalties and more training

By Will Lewis, Reporter, WLewis@wfmz.com
Published On: Dec 27 2012 06:00:00 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 28 2012 06:07:58 PM CST

New laws for new year

A new year always brings new laws and 2013 will be no different.

Some laws related to children will have a new look in the new year.

One of them will have teachers and administrators learning more about a sensitive subject.

“School employees are now required to take three hours of training," said Lehigh County District Attorney, Jim Martin. "I believe it's every five years, to enable them to better recognize child abuse and to better understand the reporting requirements.”

Martin says he believes the change is not due to the lack of reporting child abuse.  He says anything that heightens awareness is a good thing.

“We prosecute child abuse cases both physical abuse and sexual abuse much more than the public typically understands," added Martin.  "So anything that helps professionals recognize it us a good thing.”

Another big change deals with the penalty for underage drinking.

The fine used to be $300.00 for the first offense and $500.00 for every offense thereafter.

“Now the fine is $500.00 for the first offense and $1,000.00 for the second or subsequent offense," said Martin.

Jim Martin says he's not sure if the higher fines will cut down on the number of young people experimenting with booze.

“I'm not sure we're going to stop it, or curtail it, or deter it by increasing the fines and penalties," said Martin.  "I think young people experiment and we'll probably be faced with this long after you and I are gone.”

Also on the books for 2013, fire companies will be included under the games of chance law.

Meaning they can use 50/50 raffles as a way to raise money.

Finally new Pennsylvania voting rules for servicemen and women and other Americans living overseas are meant to be simpler.