Lawmakers react to Sen. Folmer's resignation

 

The resignation of Republican state Sen. Mike Folmer, following his arrest on child pornography charges, shocked his constituents and his colleagues in Harrisburg.

"I actually found out in caucus today. Some of the other state representatives were talking about an impending special election coming up and I asked what was going on," Republican state Rep. Mark Gillen of Berks County said.

Authorities say Folmer, who at one time represented part of Berks County, admitted to receiving child pornography through his Tumblr blog.

Investigators also say they discovered two images of child porn on Folmer's cell phone.

"I did talk to him on a regular basis towards the beginning of my tenure, but as the months came into the Senate there was a clear divide concerning issues relative to rape culture," Democratic state Sen. Katie Muth said.

Muth represents parts of Berks, Montgomery and Chester counties. She says she's concerned about the current culture in Harrisburg and beyond.

"Both sides of the aisle," Muth said. "It's not a partisan issue. Both enable this. Now that I'm here, I'm aware of how this culture is enabled. It's internally regulated. The Senate makes its own rules."

State Rep. Mark Gillen of Berks County also says changes need to be made.

"I would like to see internal procedures tighten up," Gillen said. "I think there should be an easy way of reporting. I think people should be encouraged to come forward."

The House is back in session. The Senate returns next week, and Muth already knows what bill she'd like to take up.

"If it were me, I would be running Senate Bill 540," Muth said. "It has a retroactive, two -year window for victims that come forward, victims of all ages."

A special election will be held to fill the now vacant state senate seat. The district covers parts of Lebanon, York and Dauphin counties.