With the Republican-run state House extending its long summer vacation (because since when is 2½ months enough?), one of its members is extending his efforts to win wider rights for victims of child abuse.
It's an effort, despite its merit and righteousness, requiring heavy lifting.
This, after all, is the Pennsylvania legislature, home of the tone deaf and morally blind.
So, Berks County Democratic Rep. Mark Rozzi, arguably the body's fiercest advocate for reforming laws covering abuse of children, is upping his game in Harrisburg. And elsewhere. Including planned TV ads.
"I have no choice," Rozzi says, "We have to put the pressure on."
He doesn't have much time.
The House was due back this week. But now the nation's largest "full-time" legislature isn't returning to session until Sept. 24. To work just nine days the rest of the year. This to ensure lots of time to run for reelection. Because who deserves it more?
If it holds to this grueling pace, it will end 2018 with a total of 46 session days.
But I digress.
What Rozzi is trying to do is give child-abuse victims wider avenues of recourse.
He's been at it a long time. He's drawn national attention as a child victim, raped by a priest at age 13.
He was fighting for change before the issue caused a whirlpool for the Holy See, before last month's graphic statewide grand jury report on more than 1,000 children sexually abused by members of clergy that drew worldwide attention.
Now, greater help for victims rises to high-profile status.
Surely, the state with the nation's most comprehensive abuse and cover-up findings would offer the nation's most comprehensive positive response.
Yeah, well, we'll see.
Current state law allows the filing of criminal charges against abusers until a victim turns 50. It allows civil suits against abusers until a victim turns 30.
These laws are in place to protect institutions, such as the Catholic Church. And special interests, such as the insurance industry. Both popular political donors.
But the laws are anti-victim. Research shows most child victims don't disclose abuse until well into adulthood. So, time limits, or statutes of limitations, are for whom?
I don't have to tell you.
There's legislation in the House, sponsored by Senate President Joe Scarnati, passed last year by the Senate (SB 261), to end criminal statutes of limitations and raise civil statutes to age 50 going forward.
A key measure Rozzi wants to add to that bill would open a two-year "window," as recommended by the grand jury, during which victims currently unable to sue can file civil suits.
Rozzi tells me House GOP Leader Dave Reed promised a vote. A Reed spokesperson says, "I believe we'll end up voting." Rozzi and some GOP insiders say a bill with a "window" will pass in the House.
(This applies to all child victims, not just victims of clergy.)
But Scarnati and others in Senate leadership oppose a "window" on grounds it's unconstitutional and could lead to so many lawsuits that some institutions, including parishes or schools, would be forced to declare bankruptcy and/or close, reducing chances for victim payouts.
Scarnati proposes a church-paid fund to compensate victims.
Rozzi calls this idea "a joke." Says "let courts decide" constitutional questions. And adds, "If Senate leaders can't get this done, maybe it's time for new Senate leaders."
Hence planned grassroots, largely social-media-funded TV ads featuring victims and explaining the import of allowing a "window" that could lead to opening more files, more cases, and recompense for more victims.
Ads could run as soon as next week in targeted Senate districts including Scarnati's in Western Pennsylvania and Senate GOP Leader Jake Corman's in the middle of the state.
Still, our lawmakers are known for getting close on big issues (redistricting reform, size of the legislature) then failing to follow through. This could well happen now.
If it does, Rozzi says, "They will have to deal with me every year. … I'll stand in the House chamber and read the (900-page) grand jury report word for word if I have to."