Tension over proposed amendment to governor’s crime bill

Alaska lawmakers are debating whether volunteers should be subject to criminal penalties if they fail to report suspected child abuse.

Gov. Sean Parnell’s crime bill, HB73 in the House and SB22 in the Senate, stipulates that volunteer or paid athletic coaches are required to report if they have a reasonable suspicion that a child has been subjected to abuse or neglect.

Sen. Fred Dyson believes volunteers who have not had professional training to look for signs of abuse should not face the threat of legal penalties.

He proposed an amendment to the bill that would remove volunteers from the bill.

Sen. Lesil McGuire disagreed, saying volunteers have a moral obligation to report suspected abuse.

The amendment was held in the Senate Judiciary Committee for further discussion.