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LePage Says He'll Call A Special Session To Reform Child Protection System

In his weekly radio address, Gov. Paul LePage said that he will call a special session this summer to reform Maine's child protection system, following the abuse deaths of two girls last winter.

Lawmakers have been asking LePage for a copy of his proposed bill as soon as possible, but the Governor said they'll have to wait until they finish current work.

At a Government Oversight Committee meeting Thursday, Democratic Representative co-chair Anne-Marie Mastraccio said that seeing a draft version of LePage's legislation would help committee members do their work to strengthen the state's child protection system. But it appears they'll have to wait until the governor calls a special session before the committee may see the draft.

In the meantime, his weekly radio address highlighted some of his proposals. At the top of his list: to change current law that emphasizes family reunification and instead prioritize what's best for the child.

"Government should not force a parent who is unable or refuses to take on the challenge of parenting to be responsible for a child,” LePage said. “This leaves the child vulnerable to neglect and abuse."

LePage said that he also wants to make it a criminal offense when a mandated reporter fails to alert the state about cases of suspected abuse or neglect. He made a similar proposal five years ago, but the bill was amended to focus on criteria for reporting and eliminated the criminal penalty.