State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

House takes another whack at controversial child sex abuse bill

Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | Sep 27, 2016 5:55 PM

Advocates for the bill spoke in the Capitol rotunda, urging the Senate to support the retroactivity clause. (Photo by Katie Meyer/WITF)

(Harrisburg) -- House lawmakers are, once again, picking up a bill that would make it easier for victims in child sex abuse cases to sue their abusers.

Early this summer, a Senate panel amended the legislation to get rid of its retroactivity clause, which would have allowed victims to take legal action on assaults dating back decades.

But advocates now say they want the original version, or nothing.

Representative Mark Rozzi, a Berks County Democrat, is both the bill's primary sponsor and a survivor of child sex abuse by a priest. He said the Senate's changes were unacceptable.

"There's no way we would accept do something, you do it right. You don't do it half-assed," he said.

Rozzi is aiming to get the bill on Governor Tom Wolf's desk this session, with only a handful of voting days remaining.

He said the retroactivity clause will be reinserted, and he is confident it'll pass the House easily. But he's not sure what the Senate will do.

"If the Senate wants to deny, deny, deny, or try to put blame on me...if that is their way out of trying not to run this bill when we send it over on concurrence, then I know when I go home at night, I can sleep," he said.

The retroactivity clause has seen opposition from the Catholic Church, among others.

A Senate spokeswoman said in a statement that the hang-up over the clause is doing a disservice to victims by denying them the good the amended bill would do.

She added that including the provision would have "all but guaranteed" a court challenge.

Constitutionality of the retroactivity clause has been challenged before, though acting Attorney General Bruce Beemer recently advised that the provision is indeed legal.

Published in State House Sound Bites

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