Wilson Torpedoes Cassilly Bill on House Floor. Was This Payback?

Maryland Matters [Takoma Park MD]

March 29, 2021

By Hannah Gaskill

Following aggressive verbal attacks on one of his bills at a hearing in February, Del. CT Wilson (D-Charles) struck back at Sen. Robert G. Cassilly (R-Harford), re-referring one of Cassilly’s bills back to its House committee on Monday evening, effectively killing it.

SB 610, which would have slowed the mandated phasing-in of accessible beds for disabled individuals in hotels and lodging establishments by one year, was one of just two of Cassilly’s bills to make it out of his home chamber during the 2021 legislative session.

Wilson’s motion to refer the bill back to the House Economic Matters Committee appears to be in retaliation for Cassilly’s harsh rhetoric during a Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee hearing on the Senate version of Wilson’s bill to remove the statute of limitations for child sex abuse survivors to pursue civil suits against their abusers.

In an interview Monday night, Wilson insisted that his motion to recommit the bill — which received no objections on the House floor — was based on the substance of the legislation.

Wilson said he objected to Cassilly’s legislation because it would impact the accessibility of hotel rooms for handicapped individuals. He said that people are having to call aides to help them get into bed at lodging facilities, “which I find reprehensible.”

“It’s nothing personal,” Wilson said of his maneuver with Cassilly’s legislation.

Cassilly did not respond to a request for comment Monday evening. But he has been a major player this legislative session during the debate this year over Wilson’s statute of limitations legislation.

In 2017, Wilson successfully negotiated with the Catholic Church to extend the age a survivor can sue from 25- to 38-years-old by creating a statute of repose.

The statute of repose bars survivors of child sexual abuse from suing their abuser’s employer after they turn 38. The 2021 bill would repeal the statute of repose and create a lookback period for abuse that happened decades ago.

A 2019 opinion from Assistant Attorney General Kathryn M. Rowe stated that both the lookback window and repealing the statute of repose would be unconstitutional because it would obstruct the “vested rights” provided under the 2017 bill.

During a debate with University of Maryland School of Law Professor Kathleen Hoke in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee in February, Cassilly implied that Wilson, who was not present at the hearing, was breaking a promise when he said he would not seek to amend the 2017 bill.

“I know some people think we’re stupid, but that really sounds like you’re not giving us any credit — that we would say, ‘Oh gosh, I knew I was depriving the guys 10 years out, but hey, I never thought I was depriving the people 40 years out,” Cassilly said.

Hoke responded that no one was under the impression that the 2017 bill offered retroactivity, but that advocates thought they could come back to “to fight another day.”
“So when CT Wilson said ‘we’re not coming back,’ then that was just a blatant lie,” Cassilly responded, “because he knew he was coming back and that’s why this matters.”

Wilson withdrew the House version of the bill, in part, because he said that having his name attached to it was “a distraction.”

The Senate version, sponsored by Sen. Shelly L. Hettleman (D-Baltimore County) has not moved out of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.