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Wolf secures agreement with legislative leaders on constitutional amendment supporting survivors of childhood sexual abuse

The amendment would open a two-year window for survivors to file civil lawsuits

Source: Office of Gov. Tom Wolf

Gov. Tom Wolf recently announced that legislative leaders have agreed to prioritize a constitutional amendment early next legislative session (2023-24) that would open a two-year window for survivors of childhood sexual abuse to file civil lawsuits.

“I want to first reiterate my deep regret and sincerest apologies to victims for the process error that prevented this issue from being decided upon by the voters this legislative session. I have fought for an immediate legislative solution to this issue and have been working with legislators to determine the clearest path forward,” said Wolf. “After speaking directly with legislative leaders on both sides of the aisle, I’m pleased that they have committed to prioritize second passage of a constitutional amendment early next session. I am grateful for this agreement so that survivors can seek a path forward toward justice.”

In 2021, the General Assembly approved a proposed amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution to provide for a two-year window for survivors of childhood sexual abuse to file previously time-barred claims. Constitutional amendments must be approved during two consecutive legislative sessions before being put on the ballot, so the constitutional amendment could be on the ballot for the voters to decide in 2023.

Simultaneously, the governor and legislators called for a more direct legislative path. Unable to reach an agreement before now, the governor had planned to call for a Special Session to address the issue. However, after consultation with Senate Republican Leader Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland), House Republican Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin), Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) and House Democratic Leader Joanna McClinton (D-Philadelphia), as well as Rep. Mark Rozzi (D-Berks), who authored legislation seeking this two-year window through statute, and Rep. Jim Gregory (R-Blair), who authored the constitutional amendment, Wolf and these members agreed that the constitutional amendment process is the current best path forward.

The governor thanked Senate and House Judiciary Committee chairs Sens. Steve Santarsiero (D-Bucks) and Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne/Pike/Susquehanna/Wayne/Wyoming) and Reps. Rob Kauffman (R-Franklin) and Tim Briggs (D-Montgomery) for their efforts to prioritize this issue in their communities.

“We must continue to support the courageous survivors who have fought for justice, and this commitment to moving forward through a constitutional amendment is good progress,” said Santarsiero. “This must be a top priority for all of us as a legislature when we return to a new legislative session in January.”

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