The House unanimously approved legislation Wednesday authored by state Rep. Jeff Pyle, R-Ford City, strengthening the penalties for drug dealers who produce and/or sell drugs in the presence of children.
Pyle was spurred to introduce the measure, House Bill 447, after learning about several troubling incidents in Armstrong County — a heroin bust in Kittanning, a crack and heroin bust in Ford City, and a meth lab in Apollo just blocks from a school — from Kittanning Police Chief Ed Cassesse and ArmNet Detective Frank Pitzer.
“After serving warrants on several drug raids involving methamphetamine labs, Frank became particularly concerned when they entered one house where meth was being cooked,” Pyle said in a release.
“There were children sitting right there on the sofa suffering from skin irritation due to the caustic brew of sulfuric acid and other chemicals that poison is made from.”
“The children said they had complained to their parents about burning skin and burning eyes, but the parents never sought medical care for them,” Cassesse said.
“These labs are no longer principally a rural problem. Supply and demand is causing them to move right into our communities in places you can’t imagine, right next to schools and day care centers.”
Under House Bill 447, which now moves to the Senate for consideration, parents or guardians who cause children to witness drug trafficking will not only do the required jail time, but the judge would also be empowered to add time to the regular sentence for each child present.