Standard-Examiner, February 27, 2001

(Utah, H.B. 387) Spanking bill in timeout this year--Focus was on parental rights ,
Bob Ward, Capitor Bureau

SALT LAKE CITY -- Senators slapped and kicked around the so-called "spanking bill" Monday morning before killing it in the afternoon.

A controversial bill that would narrow the grounds for taking a child into state custody was rejected, then resurrected, then rejected again by the Utah Senate. House Bill 387 by Rep. Matt Throckmorton, R-Springville, would have allowed the "reasonable exercise of discipline" by parents, including spanking or paddling, but would prohibit anything that causes bruising, sustained swelling or bone fractures.

Sen. Dave Steele, R-West Point, tried to amend the bill by outlawing "hitting, striking or shaking" a child under 3 years old. But Steele was voted down by senators who claimed the amendment would contradict the bill's "pro- family" intent.

"If the amendment stays in, we preclude any paddling or anything," said Sen. Bill Wright, R-Elberta.

"This amendment, if it stays in, makes this a horrible, horrible intrusion into parental rights," said Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan.

After rejecting Steele's "unfriendly" amendment, however, senators killed the bill itself. Five Republicans joined nine Senate Democrats for a 13-14 tally against HB 387.

Senate Majority Leader Steve Poulton later revived the measure and, suspending a rule that bars such reconsideration in the final three days of the Legislature, called all senators to the floor for a second vote on the bill.

Democrats opposed the bill and tried to thwart a second vote by claiming Republicans had broken the rules in reviving HB 387. Sen. Ed Allen, D-Ogden, said the bill effectively tells the public that lawmakers support spanking.

"I think it's important to realize that what we did was kill the bill this morning," Allen said.

But the Ogden dermatologist needn't have worried. The bill fared even worse on its second life, failing 13-16.

Sen. Dave Gladwell, R-North Ogden, was among the Republicans who supported the measure in the morning but switched in the afternoon. He said the legislation might force DCFS workers to read from a rule book rather than exercising discretion.

"I just thought it might create more problems than it solves," Gladwell said.

Throckmorton said later that the spanking bill is likely dead this year but may come back in 2002.

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