Senate Supports Child Safety Bill Amid Concerns

(KCPW News) The Utah Senate gave the thumbs-up this morning to a bill that makes it a crime to leave a child alone in a car under dangerous conditions. But some lawmakers say it needs more work. Although Republican Senator Lyle Hillyard voted for the bill, he said it’s too subjective.

“I can imagine people doing that fairly often. Having the windows open, the child sleeping. And so they just run in quickly and grab something and come back out. And maybe we should never do that,” said Hillyard. “Maybe that’s absolutely forbidden, we wake up a child, carry the child in with us, carry back, put in the child seat. That’s not life.”

The bill won’t be sent to the House until the Senate approves it a second time. Hillyard said he won’t support it again until it’s amended to make it more clear when a child is at risk.

The bill’s sponsor, Democratic Senator Ben McAdams, says he would be open to making some changes.

“I’m fine with including that the risk must be inherent in the fact that the child was left unattended in the vehicle. But if it’s 100 degrees outside, ten minutes might be too long. If it’s 60 degrees outside, ten minutes might be okay. But that’s where we’re going to leave discretion to parents as to what constitutes a risk to their child,” said McAdams.

The bill makes it a Class C misdemeanor to leave a child under nine years old unattended in a vehicle when the conditions are a risk to the child’s health or safety.

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