Arizona is not going to get its own version of what’s been dubbed “Caylee’s Law,” at least not this year, because of a fight over who gets to run the police force in the polygamous community of Colorado City.
The House on Thursday refused to give final approval to legislation which would make it a crime if a parent or guardian does not tell police about a child who has been missing for at least 24 hours. Violators could have ended end up in state prison for 18 months.
There actually was broad support for the concept in the House. In fact, lawmakers there had approved a similar version earlier this session.
But the issue became complicated after the state Senate agreed to a plea by Attorney General Tom Horne to tack on a last-minute amendment. It would allow county supervisors to have the sheriff’s department take over law enforcement in any city where at least half of the local police officers over an eight-year period have had their peace officer certification revoked.
That measure is aimed at the polygamous community of Colorado City on the Arizona-Utah border. Many of its officers are followers of Warren Jeffs who is considered the prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints.
More than half have lost their certification, some for misconduct with minors and others after declaring their loyalty to Jeffs is more important than state law.
Horne managed to get that bill through the Senate on its own, only to have it killed in the House. Foes, including Republican Reps. Doris Goodale of Kingman and Nancy McLain of Bullhead City, said the measure was unnecessary.
McLain said the community now has new officers who are certified. She said it would be wrong for the community to lose its local police force now because of the actions of prior officers.
“Things have been changing in Colorado City,” she said in killing the bill in the House.
So Horne, in a last-ditch effort to save the measure, had the Senate tack it on to the more popular Caylee’s Law. But House Speaker Andy Tobin ruled that the new amendment did not meet a requirement that amendments to a bill be “germaine” to the original measure.
And with lawmakers at the end of their session, that killed the entire proposal.
The underlying legislation was a direct outgrowth of the Casey Anthony case in Florida.
She was acquitted last year of charges of murdering her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee.
Prosecuting that case was complicated by the fact that Casey did not report her daughter missing in 2008 for 31 days. Her skeletal remains were found six months later.