State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

House and Senate at different speeds on child protection bills

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Apr 9, 2013 2:46 PM
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State lawmakers are engaged in dueling efforts to fix problems in the state's child protection infrastructure, with roughly 20 relevant proposals moving on parallel tracks in the House and in the Senate.

In the state Senate, committees are just getting around to the task of holding hearings on measures to make children safer nearly a year and a half after the Jerry Sandusky child abuse case became public.

Dr. Cindy Christian is a Philadelphia-area pediatrician who served on the task force created after the scandal to study the state's child protection system. In a hearing Tuesday, she discouraged lawmakers from cherry-picking legislative recommendations her group's final report.

"What I don't have to have lost in all of the conversation is that I think of that report and these bills as pieces of a puzzle and they work well because you need to have all the pieces in place for you to make a puzzle that actually makes sense," said Christian.

Sen. Bob Mensch (R-Montgomery), chairman of the Senate panel on Aging and Youth, said he's taking to heart advice from others not to rush anything that could add to the burden of local child welfare offices.

"This is the first step, not the last step," said Mensch of the hearing portion of the process.

Meanwhile, the message coming from the House is one of urgency, noting that April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. The chamber this week marshaled the support of the state attorney general in its effort to pass a measure that makes it easier for law enforcement to get identifying information of suspected child exploiters directly from Internet providers. Other proposals are poised to advance in the House this week.


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