Common Ground: Protecting Children from Sexual Abuse

03/26/2018 06:08 PM

It’s not very often that legislation comes through the General Assembly that everyone agrees upon, but it’s even more rare to have two bills that pass almost unanimously. However, that’s what happened this year with a pair of bills aimed at protecting children from sexual abuse. The two bills, Senate Bill 48 and House Bill 101, both passed with only a few no votes.

Senate Bill 48 , which establishes a minimum marriage age in Kentucky, caught a firestorm of media attention after language in the bill caused a vote to be delayed. Senator Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville, reacted to the negative press the delayed vote received.

“At no point were the parties from Survivor’s Corner or The Family Foundation, or the legislators that raised concerns, at odds with one another,” Westerfield said. “There was a concern about protecting the role of parents. That narrative was distorted and perverted to mean something gross that no one in this room believes in or has advocated for.”

The Family Foundation was unhappy with language that they said took away parental rights. A committee substitute addressed that issue by adding in language that children aged 17 could only get married if a judge and their parents approve.

After the language was added, the measure sailed through a Senate committee and only received three no votes on the Senate floor. From there, it was passed on consent order in the House.

Another bill, House Bill 101 , called Jenna’s Law, increases the age of consent. The measure originally stated that a 16 or 17 year old is incapable of giving consent for a sexual relationship with anyone who is 28 years old or older. A Senate floor amendment changed the definition to anyone ten years or more older. Anyone who breaks that law would be charged with rape or sodomy, depending on the facts of the case.

This measure passed in the House with only five no votes and only one no vote in the Senate.

Both measures are currently awaiting Governor Bevin’s signature.

Watch the segment:

Michon Lindstrom

Michon is a producer for Pure Politics. Michon comes to Kentucky from Springfield, Illinois where she served as the statehouse reporter for the NBC affiliate. During her time in the Land of Lincoln she covered the state’s two year budget impasse and the largest school funding overall in Illinois history. Pure Politics airs weeknights at 7 and 11:30 on Spectrum News. Follow Michon on Twitter at @MichonLindstrom or reach her by email at


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