A weakened version of a bill to improve safety on day care center vehicles was approved Monday by a House committee.

The measure, House Bill 572, originally would have required certain day care centers to install child safety alarms in any vehicles used to transport youngsters.

But the legislation was made permissive, not mandatory, under an amendment approved by the House Transportation Committee.

State Rep. Regina Barrow, D-Baton Rouge and sponsor of the bill, said she was disappointed her proposal was turned into an option for day care operators but agreed to go along.

Barrow said her plans stems from the 2009 death of a 3-year-old in Baton Rouge who was left inside a day care van for six hours.

Operators say the alarms cost $288 and another $50-$75 to install.

The Child Care Association of Louisiana initially opposed the bill.

However, the group dropped its opposition after the alarm system was made optional, said Cindy Bishop, executive director of the group.

Bishop said current rules require a driver and one aide to visually inspect day care vehicles used by youngsters five years old and younger.

Republican state Rep. Hollis Downs, of Ruston and vice-chairman of the committee, backed the move to make the bill permissive.

Downs said the key to protecting van riders is for employees to visually inspect the vehicle.

“Ultimately it is about two employees and whether they did their job,” he said.

The bill faces action in the House.