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Child death reporting bill passes House

FRANKFORT — The House unanimously passed a bill Monday that could lead to the release of more information about child deaths in Kentucky — a measure that had appeared dead because of an anti-abortion amendment.

House Bill 192 was one of at least eight measures that were approved by committee and headed to the House floor for a vote when three legislators who oppose abortion — Reps. David Floyd, R-Bardstown; Tim Moore, R-Elizabethtown; and Joe Fischer, R-Fort Thomas — filed floor amendments for each bill that would require a doctor to present women with the results of an ultrasound before receiving an abortion.

The ultrasound bill had been defeated in a House committee in February. Floyd and Moore have said the full House would approve the abortion measure if given the opportunity to vote.

Rep. Tom Burch, a Louisville Democrat and chairman of the House Health and Welfare Committee, opposed the amendments and has said the three Republicans were playing politics with bills that could improve health for children and increase the safety of social workers.

On Monday, Burch amended Senate Bill 62, which would establish Mesothelioma Awareness Day, to include House Bill 192, which would direct the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to study whether information about children who have died as a result of abuse and neglect should be released to the public.

The provision that would create awareness about mesothelioma — a type of cancer caused by asbestos exposure — was kept in the amended bill.

In a tongue-in-cheek speech on the House floor, Floyd said the House should support Burch's amendment even though he probably will be attacked by editorial writers and social service groups. Both Floyd and Moore have been criticized for attaching the abortion amendment.

"Don't let those ... guys get you down," Floyd said.

Burch responded that he was elected to represent all people. "He evidently is a one-issue person," Burch said of Floyd.

Burch said he talked to Sen. Johnny Ray Turner, D-Drift, the sponsor of SB 62, and Turner had no problems with Burch's amendment. Burch also said he thinks the Republican-controlled Senate will accept the amendment. "This could save lives," he said.

Burch said he also might attach House Bill 328, which would allocate several million dollars to lessen case loads and improve safety for social workers, to another Senate bill, but he declined to say which one.

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