The state House approved legislation in Special Session last week that has been at the top of House Speaker Mark Rozzi’s priority list and would open a two-year window for sexual abuse victims whose statute of limitations has expired to file lawsuits.
Two bills were passed to address this issue. The first, House Bill 1, which received broad bipartisan support, would be achieved through constitutional amendment; House Bill 2, which would be enacted through traditional statute, received slightly less widespread support.
The week-long process to getting these bills to the House finish line was anything but dull; with leaders from both parties accusing the other of stalling action to address potential claims of sexual harassment within the chamber; and multiple amendments being either voted down on the floor, withdrawn or ruled out-of-order.
House Bills 1 and 2 now move to the Senate, where their fate is uncertain. The Senate has already passed a constitutional amendment bill to establish a two-year window for sexual abuse lawsuits; however this constitutional amendment was packaged with two others: enacting universal voter ID, and empowering the legislature to override state agency regulations. Senate Republican lawmakers who control that chamber have indicated their preference for all three amendments to proceed concurrently, whereas House Democrats are of the belief that H.B. 1 should be a standalone measure. Should H.B. 1 or any of these constitutional amendments pass both chambers, it would need final approval by voters.