Rep. Katharine M. Watson
144th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Chairman, House Children and Youth Committee
First elected to serve the residents of the 144th Legislative District in 2000, Rep. Katharine M. Watson continues to bring to Harrisburg what many consider the best preparation and experience a lawmaker can have: working with constituents at the local level through her township, school board and county positions.
Watson’s long career of addressing issues at the grassroots level greatly enhances her ability to ensure that the interests and concerns of the residents of the 144th District are listened to and addressed at the state level.
During the 2017-18 legislative session, Watson continues to serve as the chairman of the House Children and Youth Committee, where she leads efforts to protect children and support families. Her tenure as committee chairman includes shepherding more than a dozen child protection bills into law and revisiting those laws to make any necessary updates. In 2015, her legislation to further clarify child abuse and criminal background checks for volunteers was signed into law.
For her role in protecting children, she was named a Partner for Change by the Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance in 2016.
Rep. Watson also maintains her assignment on the House Transportation Committee this term.
She is a former chairman of the House Subcommittees on Care and Aging within the House Aging and Older Adults Services Committee and Highway Safety within the House Transportation Committee. She also previously served on the House Ethics Committee and is a past co-chair of the House Health Care Policy Task Force.
In addition to issues involving children and families, her legislative priorities include health care and prescription drug affordability; improving highway safety and transportation; quality education for all children; access to quality care services for older Pennsylvanians.
Among the laws she has authored is Act 81 of 2011 -- the most comprehensive update to the Graduated Driver’s Licensing Law since 1999 – that seeks to reduce distractions caused by teen passengers, expand behind-the-wheel training for permit holders, and ensure that minors are buckled up. For those efforts, Watson was awarded the 2011 State Farm Insurance Champion of GDL Award, the Children’s Champion Award from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Legislator of the Year Award from AAA. She was also honored by the Century Council, a national not-for-profit organization that promotes safe teen driving.
As a state lawmaker, Watson draws on the wealth of knowledge gained from her experience working in Bucks County government, first as director of public information and later as deputy administrator overseeing many daily operations and special projects and initiatives of the county commissioners. She also served her community as a township supervisor and as a member of the Central Bucks School Board. A 38-year resident of Warrington Township, she also created and served as the first director of the Bucks County Highway Safety Program.
Before her election to the House, Watson served as a commissioner representing Pennsylvania on the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission. She is a former high school English teacher, having taught at Springfield High School, Delaware County. She also operated a home-based public relations firm, Coleraine Consultants, P.R.
Other major policy initiatives she has helped spearhead in the House have included booster seat requirements for children, penalties and treatment for repetitive DUI offenders, a new licensure system for assisted living facilities, a law against flying while impaired and the legal ability for adult adoptees to access their original birth information.
Her educational background includes a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Pennsylvania and master’s program studies in secondary counseling and guidance at Villanova University.
Katharine “Kathy” Watson and her husband, James, reside in Warrington Township, Bucks County, and have one adult son, Derek.
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