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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Lawmakers Consider Bill To Create Child Abuse Review Commission

Rep. Kathy Kelker, D-Billings.
Freddy Monares - UM Legislative News Service
“This bill matters to me,” says Rep. Kathy Kelker, D-Billings, about House Bill 303. Kelker has carried a similar bill in the 2015 session";s:

A bill that would require the state to study cases of child abuse made progress in the Montana House, today. House Democratic leaders are calling it one of the most important bills of the session.

House Bill 303 would establish a commission to look at trends of child abuse in the state and recommend policies aiming to prevent abuse and death among children.

A similar bill failed to make it out of committee in the 2015 legislative session. Now, it’s found wide bipartisan approval, passing second reading on the House 98-2.

The bill comes with the recommendation of the governor’s Protect Montana Kids Commission. Its sponsor is Helena Democrat Kathy Kelker.

"This commission costs nothing, and could be the beginning of a new way of looking at the whole problem of child abuse and neglect in Montana," she said.

The commission would include representatives from law enforcement, the judiciary, court appointed advocates, the legislature, as well as a foster parent and former victim of child abuse.

Lawmakers will decide Wednesday if HB-303 should pass out of the House and move into the Senate for consideration.

Correction: an earlier version of this story incorrectly said that Kathy Kelker is a representative from Helena, Kelker represents HD47 in Billings.

Corin Cates-Carney manages MTPR’s daily and long-term news projects. After spending more than five years living and reporting across Western and Central Montana, he became news director in early 2020.
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