WV Senate Judiciary committee stalls Skylar’s Law for a fix - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

WV Senate Judiciary committee stalls Skylar's Law for a fix

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The possible expansion of the state's Amber Alert program, named for 16-year-old Skylar Neese who was reported missing from Star City, seemed to be on the fast track for passage.

But a possible omission in the bill was realized in the Senate Judiciary Committee, so it was stalled.

House Bill 2453 unanimously passed the House of Delegates March 27.

Neese's parents reported her missing in July 2012, and police regarded her as a runaway rather than a missing person. She was found dead in Wayne Township, Pa. Jan. 16.

The bill would require law enforcement to contact the West Virginia State Police Communication Center at the start of any investigation into a person reported missing or abducted.

The WVSP would then be required by the bill to contact the area Amber Alert Coordinator who would then determine if the Amber Alert criteria had been met.

The Amber Alert program has been in West Virginia for 10 years, and the criteria to activate the Amber Alert are spelled out in law.

The four criteria to activate an Amber Alert are for a child to be 17 years old or younger, believed to be abducted, in danger of death or serious bodily injury and sufficient information available to indicate that an Amber Alert would assist in finding the child.

But when lawmakers asked a few questions about the bill and what specific words would expand the current law, Sen. Donald Cookman, D-Hampshire, pointed out that the requirements to trigger the Amber Alert were not changed to include the new term "missing," so the bill may not fully expand to what lawmakers had intended.

The bill was laid over in the committee so it could be corrected and brought up again in a future meeting.