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Sponsor Amends Child Welfare Reform Bill

Sponsor Amends Child Welfare Reform Bill

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Rep. Wayne Harper has changed his sweeping child welfare-reform bill following complaints from state attorneys that it could endanger the settlement of a 1993 lawsuit that faulted Utah's foster-care system.

The West Jordan Republican showed up at Tuesday's House Law Enforcement Committee with 51 amendments. The committee approved the changes but put off deciding whether to advance the revised bill for another week.

House Bill 202 no longer exempts accidental conduct from incidents in which the state is allowed to intervene in child-abuse cases.

It also no longer seeks to raise the evidentiary standards needed for the state to prove abuse.

"We have a good bill," Harper said. "Some people say I've acquiesced. Others say I've not gone far enough."

Division of Child and Family Services officials, who formerly opposed the bill, are now neutral.

Some supporters of the original bill said some progress is better than no progress.

"They changed a third of the bill, but there's still two-thirds left," said Gayle Ruzicka of the Utah Eagle Forum.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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