HARRISBURG - Legislation to crack down on criminal gang activity is on its way to the governor's desk for signing after winning final approval Tuesday from House lawmakers.
The House voted unanimously without debate to concur with a bill passed by the Senate two weeks ago.
The measure would create a new criminal offense of recruiting gang members, which can involve causing physical harm or using threats and intimidation to force someone to join or remain in a gang. The offense would carry a tougher penalty if that person is younger than 16.
The measure directs the state Commission on Sentencing to establish tougher sentences for a crime of violence or drug trafficking that benefits a gang.
This legislation is the product of a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers representing Northeast Pennsylvania, including Sens. John Yudichak, D-14, Nanticoke, and Lisa Baker, R-20, Lehman Twp., and Reps. Tarah Toohil, R-116, Butler Twp., and Sid Michaels Kavulich, D-114, Taylor; as well as lawmakers in southeast Pennsylvania. The legislation complements the "Operation GangUp" initiative by Mr. Yudichak and U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, R-11, Hazleton, to address gang activity in Luzerne and Lackawanna counties.
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