Bush to Sign Broad Child Protection Bill

Matching grants will be available to state and local governments to help with equipment and training.

by / April 29, 2003
WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) -- With the parents of Elizabeth Smart looking on, President Bush plans Wednesday to sign a far-reaching child protection bill that would create a nationwide system to help find kidnapped children and impose tougher penalties on child abusers, kidnappers and pornographers.

Congress earlier this month passed the package of child safety laws, including a provision to go national with the AMBER Alert child kidnapping notification network.

The national network is named after Amber Hagerman, a 9-year-old girl abducted in Arlington, Texas, and later found murdered.

The legislation provides matching grants to states and communities for equipment and training for the network, which will distribute information quickly, through radio and television broadcasts and electronic highway signs, about kidnapped children and their abductors.

Also planning to attend the Rose Garden ceremony Wednesday afternoon were the families of Hageman; and the families of Jacqueline Marris, and Tamara Brooks, two teen-agers abducted in California last year and later rescued in California's first use of the AMBER child-abduction alert system. It prompted hundreds of law enforcement officers to be on the lookout for the girls and the stolen vehicle.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer declined to say whether Elizabeth Smart would attend the ceremony.

Last June, Elizabeth, then 14, was taken at knifepoint from her bedroom. She returned to her family March 12 after she was spotted in a Salt Lake City suburb with Brian Mitchell and Wanda Barzee, the transients who have been charged with her kidnapping.

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