A bill which would reduce the time a parent or custodian of a child has to report a child missing has stalled in committee because Kentucky lawmakers say the legislation is too vague. The two Kentucy State Representatives who are sponsoring the bill, known as “Caylee’s Law,” say they will make changes to satisfy the concerns.
The bill is named in honor of the Florida two year old who went missing and her mother, Casey Anthony was subsequently found not guilty of murder. It was about a month before Caylee was reported missing to authorities.
The Kentucky legislation would reduce from 24 to 12 hours the time a parent or custodian has to report a child missing to authorities and make a violation of that law a Class D felony, punishable by one to five years in prison.
"The bill's pretty simple,” Rep. Richard Henderson, D-Jeffersonville, told lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. It was too simple as several lawmakers said the language was too vague.
"What's going to constitute a person exercising control of a child?” asked Rep. Stan Lee, R-Lexington. “I mean, that, that's pretty broad."
“You know you wouldn't want somebody to be tried, arrested and charged with a felony if it was just a miscommunications,” added Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, D-Louisville.
"I would be most gracious to accept anything that strengthens the bill,” Henderson said in response to the concerns.
A vote was delayed on the bill to give lawmakers time to make needed changes.
The lobbyist for the Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers told lawmakers the bill does not consider an offender’s mental state.
"There's no requirement that the parent or the custodian intend any harm,” said Ernie Lewis on behalf of criminal defense lawyers, “The parent or custodian could be indifferent, could be a person with mental retardation, could be a person with mental illness, could be a single mom who lives in a chaotic environment."