HB 4016 Creates Broad New Class of Mandatory Reporters

House Bill 4016, sometimes called the “Jerry Sandusky Bill,” was passed this month by both chambers of the Oregon Legislature.  The bill establishes a new, broader list of employees or volunteers of organizations providing child-related services or activities that are now subject to child abuse reporting requirements.  Some highlights include employees of higher education institutions, coaches, assistant coaches or trainers of child athletes and individuals who provide guidance, instruction or training in youth development activities.

The precise language of the Bill is being interpreted in different ways by different groups, but at least one fair reading of the Bill seems to make clear that any employee of an organization or entity which provides child-related services or activities is now a mandatory reporter.   Because the new language doesn’t apply to an “Employee of Department,” but rather uses the phrase “public organization,”   the new law potentially casts a rather wide net.  It could mean that everyone from city planners to secretaries, maintenance folks to city managers, as well as everyone in between, may now be responsible for reporting suspected child abuse.

The League of Oregon Cities is working with the legislature to clarify the language of the Bill, which doesn’t go into effect until 2013.  In the interim our firm is providing legal guidance to cities on the new law and how it affects their employees, in an attempt to help cities navigate what is being heralded as a confusing and sticky piece of legislation.

Stay tuned for more information – we plan a more detailed article in the summer issue of the firm’s newsletter, Gov-law Connection.