Lawmakers launch new push for child sex abuse lawsuit window

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania lawmakers on Monday launched a rarely used emergency process to amend the state constitution, advancing a proposal that would give victims of child sexual abuse a 2-year window to file otherwise outdated civil lawsuits.

The House Judiciary Committee voted for the amendment, drafted because the Department of State under Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf failed to make the required advertisement of a different version of the amendment that had passed both legislative chambers. It was sent to the full House for its consideration.

The Wolf administration’s mishandling of the previous amendment led to the abrupt resignation last month of Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, who has described it as an administrative error.

The bill says failure to advertise the previous amendment frustrates the constitutional process, denies people the ability to express their will by amending the state constitution, and “threatens the very nature” of Pennsylvania’s republican form of government.

An emergency amendment must pass by a two-thirds approval vote. Its main sponsor says it requires legislative approval in the coming two weeks if it has any chance to make the May 18 primary ballot as a referendum.

Voters added the emergency amendment process to the state constitution in 1967, and it has been used three times, all involving flooding or storms in the 1970s, according to the Department of State.