New Laws Increase Public Safety

By Rep. Mike Sanders

On Monday, Gov. Mary Fallin signed 25 bills into law. Three important public safety bills were among these measures. They are intended to protect the children of Oklahoma and will take effectNov. 1, 2014.

I have been working on child welfare issues since my election to the Oklahoma House. It is very clear to me that we will have to work continually to improve our laws and practices to better protect children.

House Bill 3496 will require anyone who suspects that child trafficking activity is taking place to report it and who they believe is involved in it. If the person reporting it is an employee of a child-placing agency, the law will further specify that anyone at that agency trying to interfere with the reporting will be reported to the state licensing agency.

House Bill 3016 will require sex offenders to register if they are in Oklahoma for 14 days within a 60-day period. Currently the law only requires the registration of offenders who spend seven consecutive days in the state.

Senate Bill 1444 will require a recent photo of sex offenders who are included in the registry. It can be hard to identify these dangerous individuals without an updated photo. This law will keep these individuals under the scrutiny of both law enforcement and the general public.

I also wanted to mention a new law that will penalize the abuse of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits. Current law prohibits the use of these benefits at a liquor store, casino or adult entertainment establishment. Senate Bill 1706 would punish violators with a benefit reduction of 25 percent for three months. Subsequent violations would result in larger reductions for longer periods of time.

Committee work is completed for the year. Now we are entering into the phase of session in which we spend long days on the House floor. We will meet in conference committee composed of both state senators and House members to work out the final details of bills that have sparked a great deal of debate between the two chambers.

As always, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at (405) 557-7407.

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