POLICY HISTORY: THE BILL HB5376 6
PolicyHistory: The Bill HB5376
TheHigher Education and Employment Advancement Committee introduced theAct concerning affirmative consent. The Bill aims at makingaffirmative consent mandatory in all the institutions of higherlearning to control sexual assault, stalking, and intimate partnerviolence. It also requires the learning centers and workplaces toavail information to students and employees on the options forassistance when they become victims of sexual exploitation(Connecticut General Assembly, 2016). In addition, the Act enforcesdisciplinary procedures and the likely sanctions to individuals whoperpetrate such felonies.
TheBill was conceived due to the need to institute a uniform applicationwhen determining whether a sexual activity directed towards a givenparty is consensual (Connecticut General Assembly, 2016). The Actexplains affirmative consent as the unambiguous and voluntaryagreement by an individual to participate in sexual activity withanother party. The agreement can be revoked any time during theprocess by any of the parties (Connecticut General Assembly, 2016). The institutions must specify the investigation procedures put inplace by the administration to unearth the cases of contravention ofthe Act
TheBill affirms the provision of the ‘Yes means Yes’ policy, whichindicates that only free consent that is given as “Yes” counts asagreement. In any sexual activity, silence or indifference do notconstitute an agreement (Johnson & Hoover, 2015). According tothe Act, learning institutions must provide policies to indicate whenaffirmative consent is not excused. It defines some instances ofcontravening or misconception of an agreement including intoxication,unconsciousness, sleep or inability to understand the intentions ofanother party (Connecticut General Assembly, 2016). The Committee ofAction of Higher Education and Employment Advancement voted for theBill strongly with 14 members supporting it and only three rejectingit.
The bill originated from theHigher Education and Employment Advancement Committee and it wasco-sponsored by representatives from various legislative districtsincluding Senator Mae Flexer, Representatives Ronald Lemar, JamesAlbis, Robyn Porter, Roberta Willis, Mathew Lesser, Livvy Floren,Hilda Santiago, Elizabeth Boukus, Mark Tweedie, Joseph Crisco,Greggory Haddad, Emmet Riley, Diana Urban, and Charlie Stallworth.Others who sponsored the Bill included representative PatriciaMiller, Prasad Srinivasan, Ernest Hewett, David Baram, MinnieGonzalez, Loius Esposito, Timothy Larson Martin Looney, and SteveCassano.
Historyof the Policy
The bill was referred to theJoint Committee on Higher Education and the Employment AdvancementCommittee on 23rd February 2016, and was presented for a publichearing on the first day of March, 2016. On the 4th of March 2016,the bill was filed with the Legislative
CommissionersOffice. It was then referred to the Office of Legislative Researchand the office of Fiscal Analysis on 14th March (Yes Means Yes,2016). Consequently, it was reported out of the LegislativeCommissioners’ Office and tabled to be included in the Housecalendar. On 28th April the House adopted the amendment schedule A:LCO-4555 and B: LCO5354. Information from Connecticut GeneralAssembly (2016) indicates that, on the same day, the House adoptedthe Bill as amended and recommended an immediate transmittal to theSenate. On 28th of April the Senate included it in its calendar asnumber 541. On 4th May, the Senate rejected any amendments on itsfloor and passed the bill as passed by the House. The policy wasannounced as a Public Act 16-16 and passed to the Secretary of State.The Secretary then took it to the Governor. On June 1, 2016, GovernorMalloy signed it into a state law.
Changesin the Policy
The original policy, as conceivedby the Committee of Education, was changed with two majoralterations. The House Amendment-A modified the definition of“affirmative consent” and specified that institutions of highereducation do not have to adopt the Bill’s verbatim definitions.Connecticut General Assembly rejected the provisions requiring theinvolvement of sexual assault forensic experts to provide care tovictims who had not attained legal age. In addition, HouseAmendment-B specified that institutions were required to adopt thedefinition of “affirmative consent” that is consistent with theirregulations.
ComparingConnecticut, NYC, and California
Thethree states have enacted laws to control sexual exploitation withoutconsent. Connecticut adopted the Affirmative Consent in 2016 todefine the agreement to engage in sexual activity and avoid themisconceptions (Anderson, 2016). California adopted the “Yes MeansYes” legislation that requires university and college students toobtain explicit consent when engaging in any sexual activity. Themere absence of a “NO” does not depict an agreement (Marciniak,2015). The Californian law is almost similar to the Act enacted inConnecticut since it insists on a definite consent that is not likelyto be misconstrued. In New York, the Senate passed Bill S5965 tocontrol the sexual assault and dating violence (Marciniak, 2015). TheBill was sponsored by Kenneth LaValle of the 1st Senate district. Itis also similar to the Affirmative Consent passed in Connecticut inthat it requires the institutions to implement prevention andresponse policies to address sexual assault, domestic violence,stalking and exploitation during dating (Marciniak, 2015).
Tofully understand the Act in Connecticut, New York, and California, itwould be prudent to understand various terms that are critical in theprovisions. They include stalking, intimate partner violence, andsexual assault. The rationale for choosing the terms is that theyhave a uniform definition in the United States penal code.Understanding their scope would be instrumental in observing theconsistency in the implementation of the Act and pointing out anyinstances that may require the application of the law.
Anderson,M. J. (2016). Campus sexual assault adjudication and resistance toreform. TheYale Law Journal.
ConnecticutGeneral Assembly. (2016). Substitute for raised H.B. No. 5376: An actconcerning affirmative consent. Retrieved fromhttps://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/CGABillStatus/cgaBillstatus.asp?selBillType=Bill&Bill_num=HB5376
Johnson,A. M., & Hoover, S. M. (2015). The potential of sexual consentinterventions on college campuses: A literature review on thebarriers to establishing affirmative sexual consent. PUREInsights,4(1),5.
Marciniak,A. L. (2015). Case against affirmative consent: Why thewell-intentioned legislation dangerously misses the mark. TheUniversity of Pittsburgh Law Review,77, 51.