Lawmaker says his ‘stolen valor’ bill was ‘stolen’

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The House of Representative recently passed legislation that makes it a crime for someone to claim they’re a veteran or received military awards in order to obtain money, property or other benefits.

House Bill 2050 calls for a punishment of up to a year in prison and a fine. The measure is sponsored by Republican Representative Rick Saccone.

“I think it will preserve the honor that our veterans have earned and dually deserve, so I am really proud to be a part of this bill and I am hoping it sails through the Senate,” Saccone (R-Allegheny/Washington) said.

A very similar bill passed the Senate last year. ABC27 reported on Senate Bill 43 and interviewed its prime sponsor, Democratic Senator Anthony Williams. Williams says his proposal has been sitting in the House for months with no movement.

“The bill has been stolen, hijacked, any other inappropriate term that suggests theft. I would suggest that partisan politics played a role and individual personalities played a role,” Williams (D-Delaware) said.

Williams introduced his bill over a year ago and argues it should already be enacted and protecting the honor of Pennsylvania veterans. Saccone, a retired Air Force officer, introduced House Bill 2050 a few months ago.

ABC27 asked Saccone if he was familiar with Williams’ “stolen valor” bill.

“I am not familiar with that bill. I did hear something about that bill, but I am not familiar with it,” he said. “I did this on my own. I didn’t know when I introduced it that he had done that, but I just feel strongly about it.”

“I would declare that the person that moved the bill is quite aware of the existing bill, as all of us are,” Williams said.

The two bills are very similar but suggest different punishments. Williams says “mirroring bills” is becoming a common practice at the Capitol.

“Unfortunately, it is recently common and it falls along party lines,” he said. “I wish I could say it doesn’t, but if you went through the bills that are introduced and those that are passed, it would be a surprise to many taxpayers in Pennsylvania. We are wasting time at this in partisan fashion.”

Williams is encouraging the House to bring his bill up for a vote, but he says he will support Saccone’s bill if it makes it to the Senate floor.

“If Senator Williams is doing something, I applaud him, too, and I don’t have to be the only one doing it,” he said. “We are all doing it in the name of preserving the honor of our veterans.”

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