A bill sponsored by Gov. Harry Hughes to require criminal background checks of teachers, child-care employes and others who work with minors was approved late yesterday by a Senate committee, along with several other bills aimed at curbing child abuse.
The Judicial Proceedings Committee voted to make the background checks mandatory only for employes hired after this coming Sept. 30, saying a retroactive requirement would be too costly, burdensome and difficult to get through the General Assembly.
Employers would have to pay for any retroactive background checks, estimated at $16 a person.
Workers hired before Oct. 1 would have to sign a sworn statement saying they had not been convicted of any of a variety of offenses, including murder, child abuse, rape, sexual abuse and certain types of assault and battery.
"The bottom line is we're going to try to run child abusers and pedophiles out of the child-care business," said Sen. Gerald Winegrad (D-Anne Arundel), a sponsor of the legislation.
Winegrad, a member of the governor's task force on child abuse, said the bill would give Maryland one of the most far-reaching laws of its kind in the nation. He said 11 states have some type of background check requirement.