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Child care bill may get second chance in North Dakota Legislature

Kelsh: Legislation on day care background checks confusing...

Kelsh: Legislation on day care background checks confusing

BISMARCK - A bill requiring background checks for new child care employees could be reconsidered today after it failed in the House on Friday by two votes.

Rep. Jerry Kelsh, D-Fullerton, voted "no" on Senate Bill 2162, but said he plans to bring a motion to reconsider the bill.

Kelsh said the explanation of the bill was "convoluted" and misunderstood by some House members.

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The bill failed 46-47 and required 48 votes.

Kelsh planned to make a motion to reconsider the bill Friday night, but rules require the Senate to first vote on whether to send it back to the House.

Rep. Robin Weisz, R-Hurdsfield, who presented the conference committee report, said he would not support the background checks because they were too intrusive.

Rep. Jeff Delzer, R-Underwood, also spoke out against the bill.

"This is one where I think we're going too far, putting into code too much, and it's too wide open," Delzer said.

The Senate passed the bill Thursday night 45-2.

The bill calls for about 5,000 background checks during the next two years at a cost of just under $300,000.

The original proposal called for about 18,600 checks for new applicants for child care licenses, current day care employees and household members at a cost of $1.2 million. Gov. John Hoeven supported the comprehensive initiative in his budget.

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A conference committee scaled back the proposal in an attempt to get it through the House.

Sen. Judy Lee, R-West Fargo, urged her colleagues during a caucus Friday to ask House members to reconsider the bill. She said families deserve to know if there are felons living in homes where day care is provided.

"This is a serious issue, and we can't dismiss the whole thing," Lee said.

The Senate voted late Friday to send the bill back to the House.

Kelsh said after studying the bill closer, he supports it.

"I certainly wouldn't want to be in the way of children being safe," Kelsh said.

House members whose districts include Cass County were split on Senate Bill 2162 during this morning's vote.

The following supported background checks:

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Mary Ekstrom, D-Fargo; Ed Gruchalla, D-Fargo; Kathy Hawken, R-Fargo; Richard Holman, D-Mayville; Lee Kaldor, D-Mayville; Scot Kelsh, D-Fargo; Lee Myxter, D-Fargo; Jasper Schneider, D-Fargo; Steve Zaiser, D-Fargo.

The following opposed background checks:

Wes Belter, R-Leonard; Rick Berg, R-Fargo; Randy Boehning, R-Fargo; Al Carlson, R-Fargo; Don Clark, R-Fargo; Bette Grande, R-Fargo; Jim Kasper, R-Fargo; Kim Koppelman, R-West Fargo; Vonnie Pietsch, R-Casselton; Blair Thoreson, R-Fargo; Alon Wieland, R-West Fargo.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590

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