State Sen. Jerry Hill on Tuesday announced he was placing on hold his legislation that would require clergy of all faiths to report knowledge of child abuse or neglect, even if such information is learned during communications with other clergy members and co-workers.

Clergy members are already among those professionals, from physicians and teachers to social workers, who are required by law to report knowledge of child abuse and neglect. However, the law allows such knowledge to go unreported if clergy members learn of such crimes during penitential communications.

As originally introduced in February, SB 360 would have removed that exemption. Senate committee amendments made in May changed the proposed requirement for disclosure of alleged child abuse and neglect surfacing in certain penitential communications. SB 360 now requires clergy members to report information about such crimes gained during penitential communications only if those conversations involve other clergy members or other coworkers.

Hill became aware that the legislation would not have enough support to move on. He chose instead to ask the Assembly Public Safety Committee not to conduct the hearing that was scheduled for Tuesday.

In a prepared release, Hill said the bill is not withdrawn but paused, while legislators work on the law.

“This issue remains important to me, and I will continue to champion it in the hope that my colleagues can come together on legislation,” he said in the release.

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