Last Friday, May 29th, 2009, Governor Doyle signed the Jalen Knox-Perkins bill into law at Penfield Children’s Center in Milwaukee. The bill has been re-named after the 4-month-old child who recently died after being left alone for several hours inside a child care transportation van. The family of Jalen Knox-Perkins accompanied Doyle for the signing.
This bill mandates that a child safety alarm be placed in the rear of certain child care vehicles. This requires a driver to physically move to the back, while checking to make sure all children have exited, to disarm the device. Also on Friday, the Joint Finance Committee passed a provision that deletes the original grace period given to providers to install safety alarms. Alarms must now be installed by August 1, 2009 or the day after budget is signed- whichever is later. You can read the full text of the bill here.
The alarms have been estimated to cost between $200 and $350 with installation. Providers who do not comply with the law can be charged with a misdemeanor, carrying a maximum fine of $1,000 and up to one year in jail. An amendment to the bill, offered by Spencer Coggs (D-Milwaukee), allows for a maximum $10,000 fine and up to three and half years in jail to anyone who turns off an alarm without first checking the vehicle for children.