Governor Wolf: Legislature Must Step-Up and Deliver for Victims of Crime and Abuse

September 17, 2018

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today issued a call-to-action for the General Assembly to prioritize and deliver to his desk various outstanding and stalled legislative reforms to empower, protect and support victims of crime, abuse and harassment.

“We have seen too many pro-victim bills fall to the wayside in the past 18 months and I call on the General Assembly to put victims first and take action on these proposals this fall,” Governor Wolf said. “The grand jury report is a gut-wrenching reminder that our laws are failing too many victims of crime. There are too many issues, including domestic violence, child sexual abuse, gun violence and sexual assault, where bills that would help victims and protect families are stalled in the legislature and this is unacceptable.”

“We are at a critical juncture in time where our General Assembly has an opportunity to put victims and survivors at the forefront of its work ensuring protection, healing and restoration,” Jennifer Storm, Commonwealth Victim Advocate said. “I am imploring them to take up the measures before them swiftly, so we can continue to lead the nation in our response to victims and survivors.”

During the current legislative session, Governor Wolf has publicly supported and urged passage of dozens of bills to protect, empower and support victims and reduce crime.

These proposals include:

  • Child Sexual Abuse: Governor Wolf has urged action on the four recommendations of the statewide grand jury into clergy sexual abuse that would eliminate the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse and allow for survivors of child sexual abuse to file civil claims against their abusers and the institutions that enabled them.
  • Domestic Violence: Since 2017, Governor Wolf has pushed for a package of bipartisan Senate bills to combat domestic violence and protect survivors. Only one bill has reached his desk.
  • Sexual Assault: Governor Wolf unveiled a bipartisan “It’s On Us” legislative package in September 2017. These bills would focus on empowering and protecting victims of sexual assault, especially on college and high school campuses.
  • Gun Violence: Governor Wolf has supported many bills to reduce violence and protect individuals from becoming victims of gun crimes, including taking guns more swiftly from domestic abusers and creating a new red-flag emergency order to keep guns away from dangerous individuals.
  • Sexual Harassment: Governor Wolf and legislative Democrats introduced nearly two dozen bills to combat sexual harassment and improve treatment of victims. None of them received a vote with House Republicans who opted instead to further study the issue.
  • Hate Crimes and Discrimination: Members of the LGBTQ community in Pennsylvania lack protections from discrimination and hate crimes, which means victims have inadequate recourse in the face of violence and discrimination. Governor Wolf has supported these changes since taking office.
  • Human Trafficking: Governor Wolf supports Senator Greenleaf’s SB 554, Safe Harbor legislation to protect the child victims of human trafficking from being prosecuted for crimes they were forced to commit. The bill awaits action in the House.
  • Hazing: Governor Wolf has long-supported the Pennsylvania Timothy J. Piazza Law to give law enforcement the tools they need to hold people accountable and we must ensure schools have proper safeguards to protect students and curb these practices. The bill awaits action in the House.

“I urge the legislature to move quickly to deliver for victims of crime, abuse and harassment in Pennsylvania,” Governor Wolf said.

The House and Senate are scheduled to return to session next week.

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