By SCOTT JORGENSEN - Oregon Capital News
SALEM, Ore.- In a matter of minutes, a bill that prompted much contention in public hearings was passed out of committee unanimously.
The House Education Committee held multiple public hearings on House Bill 4016, which expands the state’s mandatory child abuse reporting law. Concerns were raised about the bill during those hearings, but they were ultimately addressed through the amendment process.
Many who testified against the bill feared it would have a chilling affect on the ability of non-profits and other organizations to attract volunteers.
During a work session held during its Tuesday, Feb. 14 meeting, committee members voted unanimously to approve a series of amendments to HB 4016. Under those amendments, the bill no longer will include volunteers among mandatory reporters, it will apply to individuals and not to organizations, and it will not take effect until January. The original bill had an emergency clause, which would have implemented the law immediately.
Committee Co-chair Sara Gelser, D-Corvallis, thanked her fellow legislators for working on the amendments, which were then passed unanimously.
Rep. Jason Conger, R-Bend, praised the “evolution” of the bill. He said there were “legitimate concerns” about some of its provisions but that the amendments provided a “positive outcome” that “speaks well of the process.”
Similar praised was offered by Rep. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland. He said that removal of the emergency clause gives educational institutions time to put together proper training programs on mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse.
“I heartily support this bill as amended,” Dembrow said.
Gelser will carry HB 4016 on the House floor.