updated 11/17/2008 4:16:01 PM ET 2008-11-17T21:16:01

Nebraska legislators opened a public hearing Monday on adding an age limit to a safe-haven law that has allowed nearly three dozen children — some close to adulthood — to be abandoned at hospitals.

Lawmakers are in a special session called by Gov. Dave Heineman, who has proposed allowing parents and guardians to drop off only infants no older than 3 days at hospitals without fear of prosecution for the abandonment.

Some legislators want a higher limit; Sen. Chris Langemeier of Schuyler said Monday it should be 30 days.

At three days, "you haven't spent all night up with them, you haven't fed them ... everything that goes along with being a new parent hasn't set in yet," Langemeier said after introducing his amendment.

Another amendment to Heineman's bill would cap the age at 1 year. Yet another would set a limit of 15 years, but that bill was not expected to reach the full Legislature because it includes provisions on new crisis services that go beyond the scope of the special session.

The governor said Monday that he's flexible on an age limit and is willing to work with the Legislature.

"Somewhere between 3 and 30 days is appropriate," Heineman said on a statewide radio call-in show broadcast from KFOR in Lincoln.

Nebraska's safe-haven law currently has no age limit. That has led to the drop-off of 34 children since September — many of them preteens and teenagers as old as 17, and some even from out of state.

Senators could begin debating the safe-haven bills and amendments on Tuesday. A final vote could come Friday at the earliest. Heineman would have five days to sign a bill, veto it or let it become law without his signature.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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