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PENNSYLVANIA DEMOCRATS HAD A CHANCE TO REJECT LAW LIMITING PHILLY D.A.’S AUTHORITY

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Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed into law a bill that includes a controversial provision to strip progressive Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner of some prosecuting power over gun cases in the city. The measure, passed in late June by the Republican-led state legislature, gives state Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s office the ability to prosecute cases involving the illegal possession and illegal sale of firearms in the city—without first conferring with Krasner. 

Since its enactment, some Democratic lawmakers who oppose the provision have portrayed it as a surprise last-minute maneuver by their Republican colleagues The original bill allowed police to work outside their areas of jurisdiction if they serve as members of federal, state, or local task forces, but was amended to include the provision concerning Krasner and Shapiro.

Lawmakers stated they were unaware of what they had voted for and suggested Republicans were attacking Krasner’s power under cover of night. “This bill as amended by Republican Philly state rep. Martina White was an early Christmas present to the Fraternal Order of Police and the Attorney General who can now do an end-run [on] our duly elected district attorney and the criminal justice reforms his office is implementing,” Representative Christopher Rabb of Philadelphia described the bill to the Philadelphia Inquirer as a “poison pill” and a “legislative boondoggle,” and said it was part of a “backroom agenda of the special interest groups” aiming to strip Krasner of power.  But Rabb and more than 90 other House Democratic members voted twice to approve the measure. Rabb voted to approve White’s amendment and voted to send it over to the Senate, where it received minor changes to the original language and was passed unanimously