HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — A special session has been scheduled for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives from January 9-11 to pass a constitutional amendment to retroactively extend the timeline for victims of childhood sexual abuse to file civil actions.
The special session would be for legislators to vote on House Bill 41 and allow for Pennsylvania voters to consider a referendum during the May primary.
Governor Tom Wolf called for the special session with days left in his final term.
“For far too many Pennsylvanians, justice and healing for the pain they’ve experienced is out of reach,” said Wolf on Friday. “This special session is a critical step to allow the General Assembly to focus their work on this important, and potentially life-saving, task. No survivor should be denied the chance to hold their abuser accountable, regardless of how much time has passed.”
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.
Due to an error to advertise the proposed amendment, Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar resigned in February 2021.
Governor Wolf’s proclamation for a special session also comes days after Rep. Mark Rozzi, a child sex abuse survivor and champion for fellow survivors, was elected Speaker of the House as an independent.
The governor is asking the General Assembly to pass the joint resolution no later than Jan. 27, days after his term is set to end. Democrat Attorney General and Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro will be sworn in on Jan. 17.
Speaker Rozzi issued a statement thanking the Governor and said the “amendment must be passed without delay.”
“We are on a tight timeline. Pursuant to our constitution, this amendment must pass both the House and the Senate by the first week of February to be placed on the May primary ballot. If we are late, we risk this life saving amendment not being placed on the ballot until the November General Election. With that in mind, let me be clear: as long as I am the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the House will consider no other legislation until the General Assembly passes the language of Representative Gregory’s constitutional amendment.”
Republican Leader Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) responded to the special session being called saying “it is not in the best interest of the Commonwealth to do this work in special session, where we are required to only work on a single issue. Passing this Constitutional amendment was something we have done easily in the past and have already committed to running this session. We can do this work in regular session, while also addressing other urgent needs the people of Pennsylvania expect us to address in a timely manner.”
Cutler said he looks forward to working with Speaker Rozzi to set House rules, organize committees and begin the session’s work.
This is a developing story