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Iowa lawmaker kills window-safety bill

Published: Thursday, April 4, 2013 11:15 a.m. CST

DES MOINES (AP) — A measure that would put tougher safety restrictions on windows in new buildings in Iowa in an effort to prevent children from falling out appears dead after the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee said Wednesday that he will block it.

The Senate had approved the bill, and a House subcommittee passed it on Monday. But Republican Rep. Chip Baltimore of Boone announced Wednesday that he wouldn’t let the full Judiciary Committee take up the proposal.

The bill would have modified safety requirements so windows installed in new or renovated multifamily dwellings, hotels and motels had to adopt window fall prevention devices meeting industry guidelines.

In a statement Wednesday, Baltimore said he hadn’t seen sufficient data proving the bill would be the way to prevent such accidents.

The bill stemmed from a 2011 accident in which 4-year-old Hannah Geneser of Des Moines died from severe head trauma after falling out a third-story window. Geneser was at her aunt and uncle’s home for a cousin’s birthday party when she fell from a playroom window. Des Moines police said the girl was likely pushing or leaning on the screen of the open window, which gave way.

“I sympathize with the Geneser family and understand their desire to see this bill move forward. ... I am willing to continue to work with the family to determine the best course of action in the future,” Baltimore’s statement said.

Baltimore said he had a “productive conversation” with Geneser’s father Wednesday morning but would not provide details on what they discussed.

Senate bill sponsor Janet Petersen, D-Des Moines, said Wednesday she was disappointed about Baltimore’s decision.

“This was a very narrow bill,” she said, adding she was hopeful the House would bring it up again next session.