Since the revelations of the sex scandal at Penn State early last month, the legislature promised to create a child abuse task force to consider changes needed in law and policy to address child sex abuse.
So far, there has been no sign of legislation to establish the task force. (Although House GOP officials say a resolution likely will be introduced this week and voted on next week.)
Today Senate Democrats offered a package of bills they'd like to see enacted - and some policy changes at the state level to improve reporting and oversight and increase penalties.
Among the proposals are:
Reporting requirements. Would revise the Child Protective Service Laws to require the reporting of child abuse to both children's services and law enforcement.
Campus transparency and responsibility. Legislation would mirror the federal "Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act" that requires colleges to clearly provide policies regarding domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.
Expansion of background checks. Legislation would include additional checks that are required under federal law.
Update the child abuse reporting system. Increase Dept. of Public Welfare funding to improve the "Childline' child abuse reporting system which is understaffed and uses an antiquated phone system.
Expand the state right-to-know law to include the four state-related institutions (Lincoln, Temple, Pitt and Penn State.)
Require administrators to disclose allegations of sexual abusefor each educator that are given a reference, prohibit confidentiality agreements between school and alleged abuse victims and prohibit teachers from forfeiting teaching certification in lieu of facing disciplinary action.
Bus stop elimination. Remove bus stops near homes of registered sex offenders.
Sexual abuse training. Requires training and information for school-aged children and parents to identify warning signs of child abuse.
Children's ombudsman. Create position of children's ombudsman to process and investigate complaints and make recommendations who would be appointed by governor.
Grand jury presentments. Would require redaction of all identifying information relating to any minor who appears as a witness before a grand jury and is referenced in the presentment.
Whistleblower protections. Would prohibit an employer from firing or taking any actions of repercussions against an employee who reports incidences of possible sexual abuse against a minor.
Pension forfeiture. Individuals receiving or are eligible to receive public pensions who are convicted of a Megan's Law crime would have their pensions forfeited.
Eliminate the statute of limitation for sexual abuse against minors.