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Bill to eliminate criminal penalties for truant students' parents defeated on tie vote

By Marjorie Cortez | Posted - Feb. 28, 2017 at 6:35 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY — A bill that would eliminate criminal penalties for a parents of truant children was defeated in the Senate on Tuesday but could be revived after the sponsor preserved the option of bringing back the legislation for reconsideration.

A substituted version of SB115, sponsored by Rep. Jake Anderegg, R-Lehi, was a defeated on a tie vote.

Anderegg said the legislation was a "companion bill" to the juvenile justice initiative legislation being carried by Rep. Lowry Snow, R-Santa Clara.

The bill passed without debate on its second reading in the Senate, but on final reading Tuesday, Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, questioned whether there were any consequences to a parent who kept a school-age child home from school to work.

"If a single mother starts a day care business in her home a decides she would like to have her daughter stay home from school and help her with her business, we’re going to pass that bill and say, ‘That’s OK if her daughter can drop out of school and stay home and help her with her day care business, and there’s nothing anybody can do about it.’ How does this bill affect this type of scenario?" Weiler said.

Anderegg responded: "This bill would actually make it so it wasn’t a criminal offense if a parent did such a thing, but that’s already sort of happening for those who do the home-school portion of it in current law.

"So if someone wanted to do that and do it under the auspices of home-schooling, they can do it right now and we don’t say anything about it."

Weiler said many people have legitimate reasons for home-schooling but asked if there were any other ramifications for parents if their children are truant.

Anderegg said a school administrator could contact the Division of Child and Family Services.

"They might propose there is neglect in that regard, but it wouldn’t elevate it to the level of a class C or class B misdemeanor," he said.

After the bill's defeat, Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, asked the Senate to hold the bill for 24 hours, which it agreed to do.

Anderegg then asked to change his vote to "no" regarding the bill's passage, which would allow him bring the bill back for reconsideration. The Senate did not object. Email: marjorie@deseretnews.com

Marjorie Cortez

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