City Cast

Harrisburg Stalls Sexual Assault Amendment

Brittany Valentine
Brittany Valentine
Posted on August 10
Pennsylvania state capitol building in Harrisburg.

Passing a constitutional amendment can get complicated. (Richard T. Nowitz/Getty Images)

Thousands of survivors of childhood sexual abuse will have to keep waiting for their day in court, as the Pennsylvania General Assembly failed to get a proposed constitutional amendment a spot on the November ballot, according to Spotlight PA.

“I want to see victims have their day to speak and address what happened to them. They are not seeking financial gain. They are seeking closure,” Republican state Rep. Jim Gregory told the news outlet.

The amendment would have created a two-year retroactive window for survivors to file a civil lawsuit against their alleged abusers. Currently, survivors of childhood sexual abuse can file suits until age 30, but this hinders them from receiving damages for decades-old abuse. Many states passed such "window legislation" in the wake of sexual abuse scandals in their Catholic dioceses.

Although the measure had bipartisan support in Pennsylvania, Democratic and Republican caucuses disagreed over whether or not to bundle it with other amendments, such as voter ID language that GOP legislators wanted. That mismatch ultimately killed the measure's chances of making it on the ballot this year.

If the chambers do come to an agreement before the legislative session ends, voters could vote on the measure in next year’s primary or the 2024 general election. If not, the next time this issue could make it on the ballot isn’t until 2027.

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