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House Approves Amber Alert Compromise Package

April 10, 2003  | 

The House of Representatives has approved a package of child protection legislation that would create a national Amber Alert child kidnapping notification network as well as strengthen the nation’s child pornography laws.

The House voted 400-25 for a compromise version of several bills that had passed the House and Senate earlier. Some democrats claim the largely Republican House-Senate negotiating committee that created the package used the Amber Alert bill to tack on unrelated provisions to achieve partisan goals unrelated to the protection of children. The provisions, they say, would take away federal judges’ discretion in sentencing criminals. The legislation would also strengthen the nation’s child pornography laws and increase penalties for child sexual predators.

The bill must still pass in the Senate to be voted into law. It is uncertain how it will fare there.

If passed by the Senate, the legislation package would provide matching grants to states and communities for equipment and training for the national network. The national AMBER Alert system--named after 9-year-old Amber Hagerman who was abducted in Arlington, Texas, and later found dead--would distribute information quickly, through radio and television broadcasts and electronic highway signs, about kidnapped children and their abductors.

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