New PA laws in 2024: ‘Porch pirating’ now a felony, Attorney General of retail theft, teachers can wear religious garb, and more

These are some of the new laws in Pennsylvania in 2024.


Teachers will be allowed to wear religious garb. The law repeals a 1940s rule that teachers could not wear religious garb, emblems, or insignia such as a cross or head scarf.

“William Penn built our commonwealth on religious freedom and tolerance. It is about time Pennsylvania crossed this archaic law out of its books,” said State Sen. Kristen Phillips-Hill, who introduced the bill. “I look forward to the governor’s signature on this bill to ensure our Commonwealth upholds Penn’s founding principle that protects people of all faiths by upholding our First Amendment rights in the classroom.”

Looking ahead, Gov. Josh Shapiro plans to sign a bill this year that would give Pennsylvania school districts greater flexibility to have shorter school weeks or longer days, as long as students meet an annual minimum of instructional time.

The legislation, which passed both chambers unanimously, changes Pennsylvania law to allow for schools to complete the school year in either a minimum of 180 days or 900 hours at the elementary level and 990 at the secondary level. Currently, schools must do both.

Among other things, the bill would give schools the ability to make changes to accommodate weather conditions, professional development and community events, supporters said. It also can help accommodate student apprenticeships, internships, and career and technical education programs.

Porch Pirating

New laws in Pennsylvania for 2024 include stronger punishments for “porch pirating,” as stealing a package off a front porch is now considered a felony.

Act 41 of 2023, also known as Senate Bill 527, has specific penalties for mail theft, including a package, bag or letter. The new law uses a grading system to increase penalties that focuses on repeat offenders, according to CBS News.

Gov. Shapiro signed the legislation last month. It reduces by half the value of stolen merchandise prosecutors must prove to support a felony retail theft conviction and creates a new first-degree felony. It also establishes a division of the attorney general’s office with prosecutors across the state to investigate and pursue retail theft rings.

Philadelphia police reported they investigated more than 14,000 incidents of retail theft in 2022, an increase of more than 52%.

“With online shopping being a growing commerce method, package thefts have been on the rise nationwide. It’s time to hold these thieves accountable,” State Sen. Frank Farry said. “This bill focuses on repeat offenders by using a grading system that would increase the penalties if the thief had prior convictions for theft of mail.”

Retail Theft Deputy Attorney General

Lastly, a special Deputy Attorney General in Pennsylvania has been appointed to handle retail theft cases and will oversee a team of prosecutors.

Retail theft cost business roughly $1B nationwide last year, and more than half of small business owners in Pennsylvania saw an increase in shoplifting from 2022 to 2023.

The bill also lowers the monetary threshold for what counts as a second- or third-degree felony retail theft, making it easier to prosecute.

“Coming off the heels of the pandemic, these thefts are a slap in the face of every hardworking Pennsylvanian trying to provide for themselves and their families,” State Sen. David G. Argall said in a co-sponsorship memorandum.

Dog Laws

Pennsylvania’s dog laws now require owners to purchase up-to-date licenses, and fees/penalties have been increased. For our previous coverage, you can click here.

For more new laws, you can read CBS News’ article here.