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House votes 130-3 to expand mandatory reporters of child maltreatment

Rep. Jim Nash (R-Waconia) fought his emotions briefly Monday as he spoke about being abused as a child and later learning coaches, sports camp leaders and others knew, but did not have a way to help because they were not mandatory reporters.

“There were a lot of nights that I would pray for someone to come and save me. And no one came. … We’re gonna save a lot of heartache and we’re gonna save a lot of damage in life, and we’re gonna make it so that people don’t have to go through the same things that I went through for 17 years,” he said.

Minutes later, a plan to increase the list of who must report known or suspected maltreatment of children to authorities received overwhelming House support.

Sponsored by Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn (DFL-Roseville), HF310 would require “an owner, administrator, or employee who is 18 years of age or older of a public or private youth recreation program or other organization that provides services or activities requiring face-to-face contact with and supervision of children” to report known or suspected maltreatment within the preceding three years.

Passed 130-3 Monday, the bill now goes to the Senate where it is sponsored by Sen. Karla Bigham (DFL-Cottage Grove).

Rep. Cal Bahr (R-East Bethel), Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa) and Rep. Jeremy Munson (R-Lake Crystal) were the dissenters.

Current statute defines a mandatory reporter as “a professional or professional's delegate who is engaged in the practice of the healing arts, social services, hospital administration, psychological or psychiatric treatment, child care, education, correctional supervision, probation and correctional services, or law enforcement; or employed as a member of the clergy and received the information while engaged in ministerial duties.”

Becker-Finn previously said a statutory hole exists for activities that do not fit into the education or child care reporting requirement, such as youth sports, 4-H or scouting.

“A lot of parents are actually surprised. They would assume that their kid’s coaches are already mandated reporters, but they actually are not,” she said at a Feb. 2 hearing.

The bill would not change any failure to report criminal statutes.

Becker-Finn said the bill is based off the USA Gymnastics scandal where a former team doctor sexually abused more than 300 girls — mostly minors — under the guise of providing medical treatment. Organization officials did not alert law enforcement when told of the athlete’s claims.

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