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Abuse amendment could reach voters in 2023

Plus, Wolf begins pardons for low-level pot convictions.


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Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
September 2, 2022
Two-year window, cannabis convictions, Clean Slate, petition push, school surge, independent fraternity, and Labor Day roadtrip. It's Friday. 
PROGRAMMING NOTE: We're off for the Labor Day holiday on Monday but we'll be back in your inboxes first thing Tuesday. 

Legislative leaders have agreed to "prioritize" a proposed constitutional amendment that would provide legal recourse to survivors of child sexual abuse after the new session begins in 2023, Gov. Tom Wolf has announced.

Should it pass the legislature and win the approval of the state's voters, the amendment would open a two-year window for litigation by survivors of child sexual abuse who have aged out of the statute of limitations.

Wolf this week also apologized again for a mistake by his administration that prevented the ballot question from reaching voters last year.  

"I have fought for an immediate legislative solution to this issue and have been working with legislators to determine the clearest path forward,” Wolf said in a statement. “I am grateful for this agreement so that survivors can seek a path forward toward justice.”

THE CONTEXT: Constitutional amendments must be passed in two consecutive sessions, each of which spans two years. After that, they go to the voters as a ballot question for consideration. 

The legislature passed the amendment that would open the two-year window during the 2019-20 session and was on track to do so again in 2021.

But early last year, the Wolf administration announced that the Department of State had failed to advertise the amendment as required, derailing the process and leading to the resignation of the agency's top leader

Since then, Wolf has pressed the legislature to pass a regular bill providing such relief. State Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward (R., Westmoreland) rejected such a call, fearing such legislation would not survive a legal challenge

Should the legislature quickly pass the amendment when it reconvenes in 2023, voters would see the question on the primary ballot that year.

Track all of the state's proposed constitutional amendments here.


"My entire life, we've had to depend on charity in order to obtain hearing aids. It's maddening and frustrating."

—Megan Confer-Hammond, a hearing aid user, on the high prices that have kept so many from accessing the life-changing technology
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Enjoy the weekend, folks. Photo via Kimberly D. Send us your photos and art, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
PARDON POWER: Gov. Tom Wolf has begun the process of pardoning potentially thousands of Pennsylvanians with low-level cannabis convictions. The AP reports that anyone with a minor, nonviolent criminal conviction for cannabis can apply. There is no limit for the age of conviction. ABC27 has a guide to applying. Wolf also called again on the GOP-led legislature to legalize recreational cannabis.
FINDING A FIX: An investigation by PennLive in May found that records relating to criminal cases, including murders and rapes, were being improperly closed from public view under Pennsylvania's Clean Slate Law. In an update, the outlet says a legislative fix appears less and less likely with Clean Slate's prime sponsor, state Rep. Sheryl Delozier (R., Cumberland County), now planning a different route.

BALLOT BRIEF: Members of Audit the Vote PA, a group known for its 2020 election denialism, have submitted 3,000 signatures calling for a ballot referendum that could lead to electronic voting machines being removed in Lycoming County. The Williamsport Sun-Gazette (paywall) reports the county's director of voter services said it's unclear if the push will work, or if enough signatures were gathered.

DO-OVERS: Reporting from Harrisburg, the AP examines the growing number of students repeating grades after pandemic-era learning disruptions, a number that's been surging nationwide but which is particularly high in Pennsylvania, where parents were given the option by lawmakers. Conventional wisdom holds that there are negative impacts. The AP examines the pros and cons.

NEW PLEDGE: A Penn State fraternity — suspended through 2025 for repeated violations of university policy, including prohibited alcohol use — is going independent. WPSU reports the move by Pi Kappa Alpha would mean no university oversight, which the university says is dangerous. The fraternity’s parent organization has not suspended the chapter and says it will continue to work with both sides.

TRAVEL PLANS: Celebrate Labor Day weekend with a road trip to several labor history-rich Pennsylvania sites. Capital-Star has the itinerary.

UNION UPDATE: Pittsburgh public radio employees want a union, but their employer won't voluntarily recognize it, per City Paper.

RUDE RANK: A survey ranked Philly as the rudest city in the U.S. The Inquirer (paywall) says "only if you’re a whiny baby."

BUT HOW? Speaking of Philadelphia... I also have no idea how the driver managed to pull off this singular parallel parking job.

CASINO CATCH: College Township's dream of not hosting Pennsylvania's newest casino has been dashed by its own lawyer, WPSU reports.

Unscramble and send your answer to scrambler@spotlightpa.org. We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag. Answers submitted by 6 p.m. on issue date will be counted.
Yesterday's answer: Acceptance

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