After complaints from schools, youth groups, and others, a state House committee voted overwhelmingly Monday to lessen the scope of a new Pennsylvania law that requires background checks for all those who work or volunteer with children.

Voting 24-2, the House Children and Youth Committee approved a bill that would make background checks mandatory for those who have regular contact with children, rather than all workers and the vast majority of volunteers. The House could vote on the bill in the next few days.

The new Child Protective Services Law, which emerged from the fallout of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual-abuse scandal at Pennsylvania State University, took effect in December. It applied to a wide array of people who have contact with children. The background checks need to be renewed every three years.

Many organizations were unsure what level of contact required the checks, which include FBI fingerprinting: A homeroom mom? A field-trip chaperone? A guest speaker?

While trying to figure who beyond employees was included, schools and others encouraged volunteers to get the clearances as soon as possible, and some canceled field trips when they thought they would not get enough parents with clearances to chaperone.

The new bill would require checks for adult volunteers with child-care services, schools, programs, activities, or services if they have direct contact with children or are responsible for their welfare.

"We're trying to clarify some of the ambiguity that was surrounding Act 153, and making the statute more explicit in some places and in some places make it a little less onerous on volunteers," said Greg Grassa, executive director of the Pennsylvania House Children and Youth Committee.

He said the full House could vote on it this week.

But Rep. Todd Stephens (R., Montgomery) said that while some of the changes were warranted, others would undue the work of the Task Force on Child Protection and the Legislature, which crafted the law. He voted against the bill.

In particular, the proposed bill reduces the number of people who are required to report suspected child abuse, he said.

"I don't want to see that eroded," the former prosecutor said.