BOISE – On a lopsided vote, the Idaho House on Tuesday killed legislation from Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, that sought to eliminate the penalties for not reporting the abuse or neglect of a child.
“We take away the penalties for the people that are not professionals,” Scott told the House, adding that the bill, HB 455a, originally went further, eliminating all reporting requirements for anyone but certain professionals, but she agreed to amendments that “soften” it.
Among those speaking out against the bill was Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale, who said, “If we do not speak up for our kids, we are just as guilty as the person we see doing horrible things to them. Absolutely we should report this, and there are a lot of people who are afraid to, and if there is a penalty for not doing it, then maybe they will actually do it. Those kids have no chance unless they’ve got an adult who will help them. I hope you will vote against this.”
The vote was 25-42, killing the bill.
Rep. Christy Zito, R-Hammett, debated in favor of Scott’s bill. “I think that all of us in this room and in our state, in our country, want what’s best for our children,” she said. “We should defend and protect them to the bitter end. I also don’t believe that we need the state to tell us to do that, and to punish us if we don’t.”
Rep. Melissa Wintrow, D-Boise, spoke emotionally against the bill, saying, “I don’t think it serves anything to take out the misdemeanor punishment for somebody who does not report the abuse of a child.”
The bill was one of three Scott has proposed this year regarding child protective services. Two others, both aiming to strengthen parental rights for parents who face child abuse investigations, passed the House earlier on party-line or near-party-line votes and are pending in the Senate.