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"It's very hard to imagine that we have to legislate correct parenting," says State Assemblyman Steve Hawley in his Batavia office on Tuesday. But that's exactly what the area representative plans to do.

Following the nationally-scrutinized Casey Anthony murder trial in Florida, Hawley has thrown his support behind the proposed "Caylee's Law" in New York State. The legislation is named for Caylee Anthony, the two-year-old girl who went missing in Florida and was later found dead on property behind her home. Caylee had gone missing in the summer of 2008, but her 22-year-old mother Casey did not report the disappearance for 31 days.

A high-profile murder trial followed early this summer, and Casey Anthony was acquitted of all murder and manslaughter charges filed against her. No killer has been found.

But Assemblyman Steve Hawley says the real story here is the failure of a mother to report her child's disappearance.

"There were no laws...to make it any crime not to report, as a parent, that your child is missing," Hawley says. So he's teaming up with Democratic Assemblywoman Grace Meng of Queens to sponsor the new legislation. It would make failure to immediately report a disappearance a felony, presumably punishable by jail time.

As far as any accusation that Hawley is "jumping on the bandwagon" – he welcomes it.

"I think that it's important to jump on bandwagon when there's an horrific occurrence," he says. "We need to protect our children...because they can't protect themselves.

"I feel good about introducing this legislation."

Hawley expects strong bi-partisan support for the bill. He's optimistic it will be law by next year.

 

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