State Capitol ROUNDUP

House Budget Hearings Come to a Close 

The House Appropriations Committee conducted its final week of budget hearings.  Among the agencies and departments testifying were the State System of Higher Education, the Gaming Control Board, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Health and the Department of Public Welfare.  On the final day of budget hearings, House members were given the opportunity to testify about their budget priorities and goals for the coming fiscal year.  Lawmakers aim to have a fiscally responsible, on-time budget for the third consecutive year.  The budget deadline is June 30. 

Committee Continues to Examine Child Protection Measures

The House Children and Youth Committee continued to examine child protection measures in a public hearing this week.  House Bill 433 would establish additional safeguards and due process with respect to the outcome of a child abuse investigation.  The bill would require that the county Children and Youth Agency director and solicitor approve indicated reports of child abuse and provide a specific timeline for appeals of the outcome of a child abuse investigation.  House Bill 434 would remove the separate standards and procedures that exist for school employees accused of abusing a student.  The bill would ensure that school employees are subject to the same investigations and held to the same standards as parents, child care workers and other perpetrators of child abuse.  House Bill 435 would extend current clearance requirements for professionals who work with children to include anyone applying for a paid or unpaid volunteer position in which that individual would be responsible for the welfare of a child.  Anyone convicted of a felony in which the victim is a child, or a felony drug conviction, would be banned from employment with children for 10 years after the expiration of a sentence.  Any person found guilty of a first-degree misdemeanor involving a child victim or a founded report of abuse in the Department of Public Welfare’s child abuse registry would face a five-year ban, unless the offense falls under the definitions of a permanent ban.  All of the bills are part of a package of measures stemming from the recommendations made by the Task Force on Child Protection. 

Daylight Saving Time Begins This Weekend 

Daylight saving time officially begins this weekend on Sunday, March 10.  Residents are reminded to turn their clocks ahead one hour before going to bed on Saturday.  The idea of daylight saving was first conceived by Benjamin Franklin while serving as an American delegate in Paris.  Daylight saving time has been used in the U.S. and many European nations since World War I.  It was officially adopted in the U.S. in 1918, and was made consistent through the adoption of the Uniform Time Act of 1966.
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