Lawmakers Complete First Round

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

March marks the first legislative deadline for the 2012 session. In order for bills to be heard on the House floor, they must pass through the committee process. The House bills that were not approved by committees will not move forward in the process to become law, unless they are reintroduced in a future legislative session. Fortunately, a number of bills that I have authored passed through this step of the process.

House Bill 3049 would ban sex offenders, whose crime involved a minor child, from living with minors. After amending the language of this bill, the Judiciary Committee approved it for consideration on the House floor. These additions made House Bill 3049 more specific. This bill would only apply to offenders that are convicted after the bill becomes law. Furthermore, the bill does not prevent sex offenders from living with their families as long as any minors present were not a victim of the sex offender.

I filed House Bill 3050 to strengthen sex offender registry laws, but am now supporting a colleague’s bill with the same language. Because the bill that I authored had the same implications as House Bill 2437, it was unnecessary for both bills to be heard by the House. So I am supporting House Bill 2437, which will prohibit sex offenders with victims under the age of 18 from loitering near schools, child care centers, playgrounds or parks, as opposed to current law that only pertains to offenders with victims under the age of 13. The legislation was approved in committee by a vote of 12-2.

Eighteen children have died under the care of the Department of Human Services since February 2010. The agency’s failures stem from the lack of accountability. Case workers provide an extensive amount of information to their supervisors concerning the safety of the homes in which these children are living. These supervisors are responsible for the actions that DHS takes following the case workers’ reports. Furthermore, allegations of fraud have become increasingly prevalent in the investigations of these children’s deaths.

Under House Bill 3051, DHS child welfare workers, supervisors and other employees would be criminally liable if they provide false information in a deprived child proceeding that results in severe injury or the death of a child. Violators of the law would be subject to a fine of $1,000 or imprisonment for up to two years. The Judiciary Committee approved this bill for consideration on the House floor.

I co-authored legislation that would ban assisted living centers from penalizing residents for using the pharmacy of their choice not only was approved in committee but has already been sent to the Senate. House Bill 2566 supports local businesses, protects access to health care and protects our right to choose our pharmacy of choice.

My two county government bills were both approved by their designated House committees. House Bill 2373 awaits consideration on the House floor and House Bill 2371 has already been sent to the Senate.

Finally, the Transportation Committee approved House Bill 2369 for consideration on the House floor. This legislation will designate US Highway 81 in Hennessey as the “Senator Ralph J. Choate Memorial Highway.”

I’m looking forward to telling you about the Senate bills that will be presented in the House in the coming weeks.

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

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