This morning the Assembly Committee on Children and Families held an executive session on Assembly Bill (AB) 453, a measure that would entirely remove the statute of limitations on civil lawsuits involving childhood sexual abuse–more on that here.
In the executive session, Rep. Steve Kestell (R-Elkhart Lake) offered two amendments (which both subsequently failed) to restore some equity to AB453. The first amendment would have removed the caps on government liability in a lawsuit. Thanks to sovereign immunity, it is next to impossible to successfully bring a civil lawsuit against a government entity in the first place; and if you are lucky enough to actually win the suit, current law limits financial liability for municipal governments to $50K and state government to $250K.
There is no cap, however, on the amount of money awarded in a case against a private entity, such as a church, private school, camp, or other not-for-profit organization. All five Democrats on the committee voted against this proposal, Republican Richard Spanbauer (Oshkosh) voted with the Dems and Reps. Kestell and Pridemore (R-Hartford) voted for the amendment.
The second amendment, offered because the first one didn’t pass, would have created a monetary damages cap for private entities (think church, private school, YMCA, etc.) at $250K, the same cap for state government.
All five Democrats, again, voted down the amendment, claiming that this “wasn’t about money.” This time, all three Republicans voted for the amendment.
In the end, the Committee passed the bill without any fix for the gross discrimination inherent in the provision. All 5 Democrats were joined by Republican Richard Spanbauer, making the vote 6-2 in favor of passage. If this “isn’t about money,” then why discriminate against churches, religious schools, camps and other non-profits by absolutely refusing to any level of equity with public entities?