Dan McGurl: I Wrote a Bill!!!

Even though my tenure at the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives has now come to a close, I am lucky to still have work to complete with my internship. While most people would probably be pretty bummed to still be part of the grind, I am absolutely ecstatic. The reason for my joy is not for some inhuman love of sitting at a desk working for hours but because the work I have left to do is on a bill that I created and am now extremely passionate about.

During the first few weeks of my internship, my boss asked me to read over some guidebooks and literature regarding the juvenile justice system in the state. The more I read, the more I realized that there was a real need for change in the juvenile justice system in Pennsylvania. In one of the pieces of literature was the contact information for a nonprofit based out of Philadelphia that provides legal consul for juveniles and I decided to call him. This phone call was probably one of the most important decisions I have ever made in my professional career. After talking for over two hours, I hung up the phone armed not only with a small library of resources and examples of workable reforms in other states.

The next day I decided that with the support of my office and members of the House of Representatives that I was going to write a package of bills in the hopes of reforming the juvenile justice system.  For the next few weeks I chugged away, trying to create meaningful and broad reaching changes to the juvenile justice system. Before me lay two big hurdles, finding a member of the House of Representatives to sponsor my work and to get my work cleared. Surprisingly both of these hurdles were overcome easily, once a Representative heard about my work he immediately approached me and asked to sponsor my work and my work got cleared quickly because I had done a lot of legwork.

Now here comes the hard part, getting the bills I wrote passed into law; each year almost three thousand bills get written and less than four hundred become law so needless to say the odds are not in my favor.  However, I am optimistic that my work will see the light of day, some of the bills I have written specifically regarding creating statutes to determine mental competence to stand trial for juveniles have been getting a lot of support.

….Let’s see where this goes!?

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