Posted: Jan 19, 2013 12:35 PM by MTN News
GREAT FALLS - Child abuse is getting a lot of attention in the Montana Legislature this session, especially among lawmakers from Great Falls as the state County Attorney's Association is backing five new bills.
The first bill, which was introduced by Rep Margie McDonald (R-Billings), passed through committee on Friday. Her proposal would mandate the Department of Family Services to immediately notify law enforcement of suspicious child crimes.
Stevensville Senator Fred Thomas wants to increase the maximum penalty for criminals who assault children younger than three years old. The penalty could be as many as 40 years, if serious injuries are inflicted on a child.
The other three bills are sponsored by Great Falls legislators.
Representative Jesse O'Hara is fighting to close a loophole in the current law that allows registered offenders to evade conviction by failing to register their true address.
Senator Anders Blewett hopes to give juries better background, by giving them access to evidence about prior sex crime convictions involving children.
Senator Mitch Tropila wants to create a new felony for actions that lead to child homicide, like driving under the influence with a child in the car, failing to get medical attention for critically injured children, and leaving a young boy or girl in the care of a known sexual predator.
Cascade County Attorney John Parker says he's pleased to see collaboration between lawmakers across the state, and of both political parties.
He says all of the bills have been well received, and good conversation is starting on how to better protect the children of Montana.