The bill known as Skylar’s Law is heading to the floor of the House of Delegates for possible passage.
The bill would expand the state’s Amber Alert system to include any child who has disappeared and believed to be in danger. The measure passed the House Finance Committee Friday morning.
The expansion idea follows last year’s disappearance and now known death of Monongalia County teenager Skylar Neese. When the 16-year-old left her home in someone’s car last summer she was considered a runaway by State Police and several days passed before an investigation began.
Del. Charlene Marshall, D-Monongalia, is the main sponsor of the bill and spoke in favor of it during Friday’s meeting. She received overwhelming support from fellow committee members.
“We care about our neighbors and we’re going to know about that quicker,” Del. Erikka Storch, R-Ohio, said. “We’re going to make sure you get the justice due to you before you do anything to our children.”
Del. Daniel Poling says the change will give grandparents like himself more comfort when trying to keep up with young children. Poling, D-Wood, told the committee about his three-year-old grandson.
“Whenever you take him to the store and you can get to hold your hand, in just a split second, if you let loose of him he’s gone and then you’re searching frantically for him,” Poling said. “It’s so simple to do the right thing and this easy to help people.”
Some opponents have expressed increasing the number of Amber Alerts may dull the senses of residents but Kanawha County Del. Doug Skaff says the increase of social media should only help Amber Alerts be even more effective.
“Through social media nowadays, with the Amber Alert, it spreads so fast,” Skaff said.
The bill, which is supported by Skylar Neese’s father Dave, is scheduled to be taken up by the full House of Delegates next week.
U.S. Attorney Bill Ihlenfeld announced last week human remains found in Greene County, Pennsylvania in Jan. were that of Skylar Neese. No other details about the death have been released.