BOISE — Idaho prosecutors believe they may have missed their best opportunity to toughen the legal consequences for adults who fail to report violent crimes against children.

A bill making it a felony to not report abuse of minors to authorities failed to get a hearing and died, despite support from Sen. Denton Darrington, R-Declo, the veteran chairman of the powerful Senate Rules and Judiciary Committee.

Now, with Darrington retiring, the chances of such a law are dimming.

The lack of support for the measure was disappointing, said Darrington, the most senior member of the Senate and an advocate for tough sentencing guidelines, according to the Idaho Statesman.

"I think there is an attitude of 'Don't create any new felonies. Don't put people in prison,'" Darrington said. "I feel differently. I believe if a new felony is needed, like this proposal, we create a new felony. It's the right thing to do for public safety."

Under existing Idaho law, adults who have knowledge that a minor is being neglected or abused have 24 hours to report it to police before they themselves can be charged with a misdemeanor. After four years, the statute of limitations prevents them from being charged.

Prosecutors sought to remove the statute of limitations and make it a felony with a five-year maximum prison sentence in instances where adults don't report abuse, neglect and violence against children.

Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood, was among the committee members who thought the legislation was flawed, including the removal of a statute of limitations.