Today's date is December 5, 2022

43 Days Initiative signed into law by Governor

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Florida Governor Rick Scott signed HB 133 yesterday, better known as the 43 days Initiative, that will extend the statute of limitations for rape offenses from 5 years to 8.

The bill was championed by Ms. Danielle Sullivan, herself a survivor of the crime. She was assaulted by a co-worker, someone she knew, and found out when she reported it to law enforcement officials that she was 43 days late.

“After finding out I was 43 days past the Statute of Limitations when I filed report of my Sexual Assault, and realizing that Florida ranked 48th out of 50 states in terms of length of Statute of Limitations on Sexual Battery, I determined something needed to be done to fix this injustice. I looked in the mirror and said “Why not me?” and started the 43 Days Initiative in 2014.” said Sullivan in a message to the Observer.

She found an ally in newly elected State Representative Rene Plasencia (R-Orlando), who would sponsor HB 133 and guide it through the Legislature. “I couldn’t have asked for a better bill sponsor.” said Sullivan

“I’m excited that this legislation got through because it was something I heard about before I got elected” Plasencia told the Obsever over the phone “It felt like fate that I was able to learn about, then in position to do something about it. If I was meant to accomplish something at all this year, this is what I was meant to accomplish”

While the bill sailed unanimously through the house with little or no objections, there were some complaints by the State Senate about the proposed extension of years, and in an unpopular move reduced the original proposed limit of ten years down to eight. “I’m wondering why we need any limit at all?” said State Rep. Eric Eisnaugle (R-Orlando) during one committee meeting.

The bill was also racing the clock. It was bogged down with hundreds of other pieces of legislation during the final sprint in the closing days of session. It was also out of view for a period of time, due to the intense debate taking place over Medicaid Expansion between the House and the Senate.

“This bill doesn’t just give people an opportunity to seek justice, it sends a message to all survivors that we care about what’s happening and this issue. It’s a silent trauma that makes people feel like there is no one advocating for them. We want them to know that we’re here for them and want them to seek justice” Plasencia concluded.

According to the Center for Disease Control, 1 in 6 Florida women have been a victim of rape at some point in their lives, 97% of perpetrators will walk free, never to spend a day or more in jail. Feelings of guilt, shame,confusion, and helplessness often cause a victim to minimize the assault, not report it, and try to move on with their lives.

“I received help from so many people along the way, as I knew nothing about the legislative process.” Sullivan continued I thank them all for imparting their wisdom, advice, guidance, and support along the way. My husband has always been my biggest supporter and champion, always lifting me up when I fell and helping me heal through the process. I couldn’t have done any of this without him. I’m so happy that victims have extra time to come to terms with what has happened to them and have more time to make crucial decisions. This is a huge win for Florida today and I am so honored to have been a part of it!”

State Representative Rene Plasencia with Ms. Danielle Sullivan

State Representative Rene Plasencia with Ms. Danielle Sullivan

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