Senate Rejects Emergency Process for Two-Year Window to Bring Time Barred Claims

A constitutional amendment employing an emergency process to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution will not be part of the May 2021 Primary ballot – or any ballot in the near future. The emergency amendment would have given victims of child sexual abuse a two-year window in which to file civil lawsuits otherwise barred by statutes of limitations.
This week, Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward said that a “great majority” of Republicans believe the situation does not meet the criteria for an emergency amendment. Citing the time legal challenges would take away from the process, she said legislators would rather start over.
The use of the emergency amendment procedure was sought by advocates to remedy the PA Department of State’s failure to properly advertise the original constitutional amendment giving victims of child sexual abuse a two-year window in which to file civil lawsuits. The advertising of a proposed constitutional amendment is required by law before it is put in front of the voters and after the amendment passes two consecutive sessions of the state legislature.
Emergency constitutional amendments have only been used three times in Pennsylvania, in the 1970’s, in response to catastrophic floods and storms. The Department of State’s failure to properly advertise the constitutional amendment does not meet the “major emergency” standard required by the constitution.

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