Today is the final scheduled session day at the state capitol. And that means it is the last day to move a bill to change the Statute of Limitations for child sex crimes.
It has been a back-and-forth day in the Senate as they work to move a bill that increases the age survivors of child sex crimes have to file a civil suit, from 30 to 50 and eliminates the statute for criminal prosecutions.
But the center of debate has been an amendment that would open up a two-year window for victims who are past the Statute of Limitation and to file a civil suit against their abuser.
That amendment passed the House last month, but today is the first day the Senate has taken it up with those changes. Some, including Senate President pro tempore Joe Scarnati, argue the window is unconstitutional.
We have heard today that there were talks in the Senate to make the window only for perpetrators, and not institutions. We’ve also heard the possibility of removing the window altogether, which victims advocates we spoke to said isn’t acceptable.
“I’m here to give the Senators assurances that we will not go away. If we don’t get legislation today, with the civil window, we will be in your district tomorrow,” said Shaun Dougherty, victim’s advocate.
“And what is clear is the grand jury recommended four things to ensure that something like this never happens again,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “And all four of those things need to be contained in any package that I’m going to support.”
We are still waiting to hear what the final bill will look like. Senate Republicans say they do plan to vote on a bill tonight, though. House members have indicated, they don’t believe a bill without the window will be able to pass.