Governor Tom Vilsack says the Shelby Duis case will spur the state to hire more child abuse investigators — and more people to supervise investigators. In addition, Vilsack wants to re-write Iowa law so abuse cases can be more easily prosecuted. Two state workers have been disciplined for failing to remove Duis from an abusive situation in her Spirit Lake home. Neither Shelby’s mother nor her boyfriend were found guilty of murdering the child, but Heidi Watkins will go to prison for child endangerment. Vilsack says many abusers are addicted to drugs or alcohol and he wants to push insurance companies to cover substance abuse treatment. Vilsack will ask legislators to open child abuse investigation records to public scrutiny. A new state law passed last spring allows only the Governor and key legislators to see all the records. Vilsack says he doesn’t believe there is support to allowing full disclosure of the records to all Iowans.Vilsack says he’ll decide later how many more state abuse investigators to ask legislators to pay for. And the Governor says the state must do a better job of tracking elder abuse.
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