Children at least age 10 in foster care might have to be informed of their right to a no-cost attorney in a juvenile proceeding.
A court would also have to appoint counsel for a child’s parent, guardian or custodian in cases when the parent meets certain income guidelines. There is an exception when the sole basis for a proceeding is habitual truancy.
Passed 130-0, as amended, Thursday, the bill now moves to the Senate, where Sen. Jerry Relph (R-St. Cloud) is the sponsor.
The House adopted two Kresha-sponsored amendments. The first made small changes which Kresha said would help the bill match its Senate companion. The second amendment would term the bill “McKenna’s Law.”
That is a reference to 12-year-old McKenna Ahrenholz who provided powerful testimony in support of the bill as it progressed through the committee process.
Kresha called her “the champion” of the bill, and read at length the testimony she had given in committee, in which she described her harrowing experience in the foster care system. That only changed after she and her siblings asked a judge for an attorney.
Members gave Ahrenholz, who was in the House Gallery with her siblings and grandparents, a round of applause.
The bill also contains a provision outlining how a child may waive his or her right to an attorney.
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