The House Health and Welfare Committee wrestled with exactly what I am on HB 290 today. On one hand, It brings us one step closer to having a permanent structure for identifying ways to prevent children from dying from abuse and neglect. As an example, this bill improves the panel’s capacity to gather complete records related to the cases under review.

However, I remain concerned that questions around transparency will still hover over the panel’s proceedings with the way the bill is currently worded. I am especially concerned that this panel is still owned by the Executive Branch. For this panel to be effective, it must be credible. For the panel to be credible, it must be independent. Finally, we can improve the panel’s credibility by ensuring that the public is aware of any potential conflicts of interest of the panel members.

I am confident that the full House and the Senate can embrace today’s action as an important step forward and take the essential steps to improve those components as the bill moves forward. Let’s not be satisfied with “better than what we have” and push towards what is best for kids. As several thoughtful Committee members expressed, we’re still not there in protecting kids more than adults.