HARRISBURG -- The state Senate on Monday approved a version of legislation that would remove exemptions for labor disputes in bans on stalking and harassment, but a House Republican spokesman said the Senate changes need review.
Republicans and business groups have argued the exemptions encourage incidents like the allegation in a federal indictment that Philadelphia ironworkers, among other charges, set fire to a crane at a Quaker meetinghouse where a contractor had hired nonunionized workers.
Union leaders have replied that the exemptions apply to management, too, and protect workers engaged in picket lines and other lawful activity.
The House in March passed legislation that would strip the labor-dispute exemption from the harassment and stalking bans, though carve-outs for "constitutionally protected activity" would remain. While still deleting the labor-dispute exemptions, a Senate committee last week expanded the remaining carve-outs to include "activity protected by the Constitution of the United States, federal law or the Constitution of Pennsylvania."
Erik Arneson, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware, described the change as a "clarifying amendment," and David Taylor, executive director of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers' Association, which has supported removing the labor-dispute exemptions, said the changes would have "no practical effect."
The amended bill cleared the Senate 48-0. It had passed the House 115-74, with all voting Republicans and a few Democrats in support.
Steve Miskin, a spokesman for House Republicans, said a committee will review the Senate amendment.
"The intent of the legislation is to ensure that stalking and harassing and threats of violence are not permissible," he said.
The House and Senate agreed to remove all exceptions to the ban on threatening to use weapons of mass destruction.
Karen Langley: firstname.lastname@example.org, 717-787-2141 or on Twitter @karen_langley.