House Republicans today demanded action on legislation that would protect our communities from repeat sexual predators. During prosecution for sexual offenses, House Bills 301 and 353 will allow a court to admit evidence of a defendant’s prior history of sexual crimes or abuse.
Similar legislation has been before the committee 14 times. While the Senate unanimously passed the bill in 2016, this legislation has never moved out of the House Judiciary Committee. These bills have received wide bipartisan support, with more than 120 members of the General Assembly co-sponsoring these bills and their crossfiles. The Women’s Caucus and the Legislative Black Caucus have also indicated their support for this type of legislations.
According to the House Rules, bills not acted on by a Committee may be petitioned from the Committee’s possession and brought before the full House for a vote. In a letter to the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, House Minority Leader Nic Kipke and House Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga indicated the Caucus’ intention to petition the bill from the Committee’s possession if the bill was not voted on.
“As much as we respect the committee system within the legislature,” the letter reads, “the safety of our children and our communities is far more precious than parliamentary niceties.” The letter requests the bill be acted on no later than March 16th. The crossover deadline in the General Assembly is March 19th. Bills passed after that date have to cross additional legislative hurdles in order to pass.
The letter continues, “…we do not take this action lightly, but we feel this move underscores our commitment to seeing this legislations passed and our communities protected.”
Click here to read the letter in its entirety.