Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

State Representative Kate Harper earns awards for environmental conservation and legal actions

State Representative Kate Harper was recently honored for her life's dedication to conservation and the law. Harper has been a long-time advocate for the preservation of open space and conservation of natural resources, both as a Republican representing the 61st District, and as a lawyer. This past summer, she was recognized for her work as a legislator by both the Pennsylvania Association for Conservation Districts and the Pennsylvania Association for Justice.

In a press release announcing Harper as the recipient of the PACD 2011 Legislator Recognition Award, the PACD president called Harper "a true champion of our efforts to protect, sustain and enhance our natural resources." Harper has sponsored House bills calling for a Marcellus Shale gas extraction tax to provide funds for the impact of drilling on local communities, as well environmental programs, including "Growing Greener."

The state's Growing Greener program, which funds conservation projects, is currently out of money. Harper has been working to push legislators to come up with a dedicated funding sources for the state's program. Harper's legislation ideas call for a natural gas severance tax. That tax plan was cited by the PACD in a press release regarding the award. The PACD is a nonprofit that represents sixty-six conservation districts in the state that provide education and guidance for the use of soil, water, and related resources.

Harper's other award came from the Pennsylvania Association for Justice and stemmed from her efforts to amend a bill that was passed this year in regards to joint and individual liability. The Fair Share Act eliminated joint liability for defendants in civil cases. In the past, if there was more than one defendant in a civil case and one was unable to pay an amount awarded, the other defendant would have to pay the full amount. Under the new Fair Share Act, every defendant is responsible for paying only its own share of the judgment, which is ultimately determined by a judge or jury.

Harper said she had worked to make the bill more victim friendly. "I wanted to make it fairer and I thought it should have been limited to certain cases. I'm sensitive to the concerns of people who have been injured and I think that's why I got the honor."

Attorney Tim Conboy from Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman said, "Rep. Harper advocated for a bipartisan consensus to seek compromise in legislation that limited the rights of her constituents and all Pennsylvanians to hold wrongdoers accountable in a court of law. As a nonpartisan association, we seek to recognize those individuals who rise above the political fray to do what's right for those who seek justice in our Pennsylvania Courts."

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