All five Democrats on the Senate Judiciary committee voted against a bill to put new restrictions on consensual sexual relations for 16- and 17-year-olds. Senate File 179 would put in place a 10-year maximum of age difference for those age 16 or 17.
Current state law places the age of consent at 16. But this bill would make it so nobody older than 26 can have relations with a 16-year-old and 27 for a 17-year-old.
You can read more about the bill and its origins here.
“This is a pretty peculiar bill,” said Democrat Sen. Tony Bisignano. “The age of consent is 16, but now we’re putting restrictions around the age of 16 to how old you can consent to. I assume that if we give consent, that we give consent. If they’ve reached the age of consent, then they’re responsible enough. Or raise the age of consent to 18 and forget about it.”
Republican Sen. Annette Sweeney said the bill was drafted because of predatory activity between a 40-year-old and a 15-year-old. A flight lessons instructor groomed the teen girl.
“As soon as she turned 16 he took advantage of her,” Sweeney said. “We’re hoping that when we address the maturity level of all individuals within that time frame that calmer heads would prevail. It’s a sign out to other people that you shouldn’t be grooming young people for sexual gratification.”
Senators Rich Taylor, Rob Hogg, Janet Petersen, Tony Bisignano and Kevin Kinney voted against the legislation.