Senator John C. Rafferty, Jr. represents the residents of Pennsylvania’s 44th Senatorial District which includes parts of Berks, Chester and Montgomery Counties. He was re-elected for a fourth term in the Senate in November of 2014.
A former Pennsylvania Deputy Attorney General, the Montgomery County native has an extensive background in public service at the state and local levels. Senator Rafferty’s top legislative priorities include improving Pennsylvania’s transportation system, lowering the property tax burden, protecting the environment, reducing health care costs, providing quality care for senior citizens, fighting drunk driving, combating prescription drug abuse and ensuring that our police, firefighters and emergency responders have the resources and tools they need to do their jobs.
Senator Rafferty currently serves as the Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee. The most lauded accomplishment during his tenure to date was spearheading the passage of Act 89 of 2013, which created a multi-billion dollar, multi-modal transportation funding plan for Pennsylvania. Following decades of underinvestment throughout the state’s transportation system, Senator Rafferty helped to gain bipartisan support for one of the most robust transportation funding solutions in the country by increasing investment by an additional $2.3 billion. This critical level of investment is helping to repair structurally deficient bridges and poorly-rated roadways to ensure the safe, efficient and competitive movement of people and goods throughout the Commonwealth. Act 89 also provides a sustainable funding solution for non-highway modes of transportation, including, aviation, rail freight, ports and bicycle/pedestrian. The law has been recognized as a model by transportation leaders from across the nation and its financing mechanisms are being evaluated by other state Departments of Transportation and the United States Congress as they review options to bridge their funding gaps.
Senator Rafferty also serves as the Vice Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and is a member of the Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure and Law and Justice Committees. Senator Rafferty has previously served on the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency and in 2013 was appointed by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate to serve on the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing. He is well known for working on state and local issues and bringing together members of the Legislature, local officials and community leaders to solve problems and build meaningful consensus.
On the legislative front, Senator Rafferty was a key player in recent efforts to comprehensively rewrite, improve and strengthen Pennsylvania’s child protection laws. He has also fought hard for the protection of children and communities with his sponsorship of Jessica’s Law and his strong support of improvements to Megan’s Law.
Working with community leaders and law enforcement officials, he sponsored a new law to significantly strengthen Pennsylvania’s arson laws, create the new crime of aggravated arson and set tougher sentencing guidelines for those that intentionally sets a fire with the intent to hurt or kill someone inside, or if a firefighter or first responder is injured as a result of the crime.
Senator Rafferty authored legislation to crack down on those who recruit members into criminal street gangs, particularly children. Additionally, he was also instrumental in the passage of Brad Fox Law that raises penalties for firearm straw purchasers. The law is named for Bradley Fox, a police officer in Plymouth Township who was fatally shot by a man using a gun illegally purchased for him.
Senator Rafferty strengthened the state’s DUI laws by authoring Act 33 of 2016 that achieved broad bipartisan support in the General Assembly. This new law requires the installation of ignition interlock devices on vehicles for at least one year for first time DUI offenders convicted with a blood alcohol content level of .10 or higher. Not only is this law smart on crime, but it received support from law enforcement, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and PA Parents Against Impaired Driving. In addition, Senator Rafferty introduced legislation to close a loophole that enabled repeat DUI offenders to avoid more serious penalties.
Senator Rafferty has received numerous accolades from various organizations in the 44th Senatorial District and across the Commonwealth including the March of Dimes Service to Humanity Award in 2014, the Chester County Chamber of Commerce 2014 Salute to Leadership Award, the NFIB Guardian of Small Business Award, the Montgomery County Community College Presidential Award 2014, the Chester County District Attorney’s Commendation 2015, MADD honored him with its 2013 and 2014 Legislator of the Year Award and he received the 2015 Leadership Aware from the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility.
Prior to running for the Pennsylvania Senate, Senator Rafferty served as an attorney in private practice focusing on education, real estate, zoning, business and estate law. As Deputy Attorney General for the Commonwealth from 1988 to 1991, he was assigned to the Criminal Law Division where his primary duty was investigating and prosecuting Medicaid fraud.
Senator Rafferty also gained valuable knowledge of education issues as a member of the Methacton School Board from 1980 to 1984. Senator Rafferty also represented Methacton in the operation of the Vo-Tech School as a member of the North Montco Vo-Tech Joint School Authority from 1981 to 1984. After serving on the Methacton School Board he was elected to serve as a member of the Lower Providence Township Board of Supervisors.
Senator Rafferty earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, his master’s degree from Beaver College and his law degree from Temple University.