Lawmakers have voted to end what’s called Jolene’s Law Task Force. The Legislature created Jolene’s Task Force last year to study child sexual abuse and propose laws to help combat the issue. Senate Bill 71 would have continued funding the task force, however, the bill was killed in committee.
Jolene Loestcher is an advocate for child sex abuse victims. Jolene’s Task Force was named after Loestcher who is herself a victim of child sexual abuse. The task force met over a period of 4 months in 2014 and was comprised of lawmakers, law enforcement, social workers, lawyers and other child sex abuse experts. Loestcher says the task force was just starting the important work it set out to do.
"When you think about a crime that affects 1 in 4, 1 in 3 girls, 1 in 6 boys – the numbers vary - that’s a crime that literally impacts all of us either primarily or secondarily. And you can’t look at something that big and say here’s four months, good luck I’m sure you’ll get it all figured out. You just can’t. We needed more time and the children of this state deserved for us to give them more time to help them," says Loestcher.
Those who voted against the task force say that it should go through the regular summer study process. Generally, the Legislative Research Council surveys lawmakers on all proposed summer studies. In April the legislative Executive Board considers the survey results and decides which summer studies to approve. Representative Roger Solum says this procedure should happen for all task force and summer study topics.
"You know we’re kind of limited on funding and the numbers of summer studies. I’d hate to lock us in to this one when there may be others that, that need to be acted on as well," says Solum.
10 of the 12 Representatives on the House State Affairs Committee voted to send Senate Bill 71 to the 41st day, effectively killing it. The committee did pass Senate Bill 70 which was proposed by Jolene’s Task force. Senate Bill 70 improves reporting requirements of child sex abuse crimes.