April is Child Abuse Awareness Month and a great opportunity to call attention to how we can better protect our kids. By strengthening the penalties for parents who use illegal drugs or are convicted of child molestation or exploitation, we hope to create a safer environment for Hoosier children. I am sponsoring Senate Enrolled Act 323 to build stronger protections for vulnerable children.
Under this proposed bill, courts would have the authority to require a parent to submit to drug testing if they have a history of unlawful drug use in the past five years. Parents can also be required to submit to drug testing if there is a reasonable likelihood that they are currently using illegal drugs. The parent would pay for the drug test, and if the test comes back positive, the judge may reduce visitation time.
This legislation, also known as “Asher’s Bill,” was inspired by Hancock County resident Jennifer Trattner and her 2-year-old son, Asher. In July 2017, Asher, who was 7 months old, ingested cocaine that was allegedly left out on a dinner plate by his father. He soon contracted a high fever and was having vomiting attacks. Trattner believes Asher’s father has used illegal drugs since he was originally arrested in 2017, and she has been fighting in the courts to reduce his visitation time because of it.
Under “Asher’s Bill,” a parent convicted of child molestation or child exploitation in the past five years can lose visitation rights or be subject to supervised visitation. This legislation would build up protections for children and give judges another tool to ensure justice is enforced. The bill would also provide incentives to parents to get their lives in order so that they may gain back visitation time.
Action must be taken if we are to ensure the best possible future for our children. This proposal, authored by State Sen. Michael Crider (R-Greenfield), passed out of the Senate and House of Representatives, and is now eligible to be signed into law by the governor. To learn more about Senate Enrolled Act 323, visit iga.in.gov. As session continues, let’s stay connected. For questions or input, please call 317-232-9651 or email H53@iga.in.gov.
State Rep. Bob Cherry (R-Greenfield) represents House District 53,
which includes portions of Hancock and Madison counties.
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