Pa. (WTAJ) — Local state lawmakers were outraged on Monday after the Department of State failed to properly advertise a constitutional amendment.
The proposed amendment, House Bill 963, would allow more victims of childhood sexual abuse to pursue civil actions. However, under the state constitution, a proposed amendment must be advertised in two newspapers in every county, 3 months before the next general election.
Because this small task was left undone, local lawmakers may need to go back to the drawing board after working on this child abuse amendment for 2 years. The amendment would give victims of childhood sexual abuse two additional years after the statute of limitations on the crime has expired to file a lawsuit.
State Representative, Jim Gregory, the initial sponsor, says this would have allowed hundreds if not thousands of child sexual abuse victims across Central PA to have their day in court. “My reaction at first was ‘shock.’ My second reaction was uncontrollable sobbing for the victims and what this is going to do to them… Again,” he said.
Governor Wolf called Gregory personally to say that just days before finalizing its passage to the senate, it couldn’t pass at all, due to an error made by Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar who announced her resignation on Monday.
“Right now I’m just angry and very angry that a quote on quote clerical error would prevent the people of Pennsylvania to cast a vote just over 90 days from now to deliver civil justice for the victims of child sexual abuse,” Gregory added.
State Senator Jake Corman says the state has had issues with Boockvar in the past but this is unacceptable.
“To completely forget to do it is unconscionable. It’s a level of incompetence we haven’t seen in state government in some time…To all the victims out there who are looking to seek justice in a timely fashion, this is a blow to them and a sad day,” Corman told WTAJ
Gregory says the governor’s apology wasn’t enough. Victims may now have to wait another 2 years for the bill to pass.
Kathy Boockvar will resign this coming Friday. Senator Corman says he’s hoping to meet with Gregory soon to discuss their next move.