- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 3, 2015

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - The New Mexico House of Representatives Tuesday unanimously passed legislation to clarify a law requiring the reporting of suspected child abuse and neglect to authorities.

The bill by Santa Fe Democrat Brian Egolf removes reference to the 10 categories of people, including physicians, nurses and teachers, who were previously specified in law as having to contact authorities about suspected abuse.

“This bill restores the original intent of this law, and makes it clear that we all have the responsibility to report child abuse,” Egolf said in a statement.

Despite a number of abuse cases highlighting problems with the state’s overwhelmed child welfare system, several measures stalled during last year’s 30-day legislative session. Some bills aimed to fix a legal loophole created by an appellate court decision that narrowed the list of people who must report suspected cases of abuse and neglect.

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez and a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers have been pushing for clarification ever since the 2013 ruling.

A slew of bills - such as Egolf’s - winding through the current legislative session aim to bolster protections for children, expand the scope of some laws and add more punishable offenses.

“Every single person in our state should be required to protect our children and report child abuse if they know or suspect it to be occurring,” Martinez said in a statement. “That’s always been the law of the land, and it’s our responsibility. We need to set the matter straight, and I’m glad the House has passed this bipartisan legislation to make sure every New Mexican knows it’s our job to protect children from abuse.”

The legislation now moves to the Senate for consideration.

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