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Each legislative session thousands of bills and amendments are introduced in the Pennsylvania Legislature. Only a fraction become law, and an even smaller portion receive wide media coverage.

These bills impact the lives of people living in Pennsylvania every day.

Each week The Sentinel will highlight one bill that has not received widespread attention.

About the bill

There are topics in each legislative session that seem to get a lot of attention from legislators. Lawmakers introduce a flurry of bills to address the perceived problem.

For example, animal abuse was a hot topic during in 2017, which culminated with the passage of Libre’s Law, which increased penalties for animal abuse and created new restrictions on tethering dogs outside.

Sometimes the topic catching fire can be easily drawn to a major news event, while others appear to be a product of events that transpire behind the scenes in the Legislature.

In recent months, the topic of ending child marriages has garnered attention from lawmakers. Several bills have been introduced to end the practice.

Senate Bill 1219 is one of those bills.

Under current law, a child 15 years old or younger can get married if they receive parental and court approvals.

Minors age 16 and 17 may marry with just consent from their parents or legal guardians.

Senate Bill 1219, introduced by Sens. John Sabatina, D-Philadelphia; Judith Schwank, D-Berks County; and Guy Reschenthaler, R-Allegheny County; would end that practice.

“[T]here is no minimum age in Pennsylvania for a child to marry,” the three wrote in a co-sponsorship letter. “Children, predominately girls, can often be forced into marriage before the age of legal majority and face lifelong, devastating consequences.”

The bill would remove all exceptions for minors and stipulate that marriage licenses may only be issued to people 18 years old or older.

The three lawmakers wrote that about a quarter of a million child marriages occurred in the United States between 2000 and 2010.

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Email Joshua Vaughn at jvaughn@cumberlink.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Sentinel_Vaughn.

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