By Ivan Kipp

After the Hyde House passing of HH010, the Hyde Senate held an additional hearing on Saturday the 26th at the Capitol Building during the 2019 Youth and Government State Conference. This bill states that new mothers will be charged with child endangerment and even face jail time if they consume substances such as drugs and/or alcohol. Since the bill was presented in the Senate, a sponsor of Delegate Sanjana Dandu’s bill presented the legislation.

During the hearing, the Hyde Senate only proposed half of what the House mentioned the day before, but also passed only one of them. However, the passed amendment was more lenient on the penalties given to the mother if they are found consuming these substances. The amendment proposed instead of the mother losing her parental rights instantaneously during the second offense, she should instead be investigated by the authorities. Previously during the first day of the Hyde House hearings, the original author was against a change in the penalties as well as the House delegates, but the Senate proved to be more divided and was lenient to the mother’s punishments and adopted the amendment to the bill. The division amongst the delegates of the Hyde Senate was prominent through the whole hearing with strong speeches for the denial and passing of the bill, as well as the amendments barely being denied and a division/standing vote being called.

The bill sponsor in the Senate urged the delegates to vote for the bill to ensure children are born “as healthy as possible,” as well as the mother during the pregnancy. He continued to say that “the concept of life is something we have cherished,” and that “we cannot stand this threat of life”. While he was confident that the bill was necessary for the pregnant mothers and children, there was also a sizeable opposition to the passing of this bill. Many delegates in the room didn’t think the bill was efficient after the amendment period. A fellow delegate stated that the “logistics do not make any sense” and that the  “mother has wiggle room to prepare for the [spontaneous] drug tests despite the efforts made to avoid loopholes. Another delegate in opposition stated that we shouldn’t “force them to take drug tests” because it was a way of infringing the mother’s rights. The supporters of the bill then retorted that the ultimate goal of the bill was to preserve the life of both the mother and the child.

Despite a considerably strong force for the passing of the legislation, the bill was denied due passage. The vote, to difficult to tell whether the I’s or nay’s had it, was called that the nay’s had succeeded. The division that was called was not recognized by the chair of the Hyde Senate.

After hours of debate and speeches, the bill of child endangerment failed to pass in the Hyde Senate.