State House Sound Bites

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

The State House Sound Bites Podcast is now called State of the State and is a part of PA Post, a digital-first, citizen-focused news organization to hold Pennsylvania’s government accountable to its citizens.

House positions overhauled statute of limitations bills for another run

Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | Mar 29, 2019 6:35 PM
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A similar bill failed last year over disputes about--among other things--the constitutionality of retroactive suits in old cases. (Photo by AP)

 

(Harrisburg) -- Two state representatives are setting the stage for a push to change Pennsylvania's laws governing sexual abuse.

The last time lawmakers attempted it, negotiations crashed after a bitter dispute over whether to allow retroactive lawsuits in certain cases.

Representative Mark Rozzi has been the key force behind changing statute of limitation laws.

As a teenager, the Berks County Democrat was abused by a priest.

The bill he's re-introducing would get rid of the criminal statute of limitations on future sex abuse cases, and loosen age limits for civil suits.

Notably, it doesn't include the retroactive lawsuit window that tanked talks last year.

Instead, Blair County Republican Representative Jim Gregory has a second proposal that would amend the constitution to explicitly allow suits in old cases.

"We're just trying to put together a solution," Gregory said. "Hopefully this is what will eventually remove that last barrier to get this to the people of Pennsylvania."

Senate Republicans were the key holdouts on retroactivity--partly due to constitutional concerns, but also because some worry suits on old cases will bankrupt churches.

It's unclear how they'll respond.

House Democrats and Republicans, Senate Democrats, Governor Tom Wolf, Attorney General Josh Shapiro, and the state Victim Advocate have all supported retroactive lawsuits.

The House quickly positioned Rozzi and Gregory's bills for committee consideration.

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