New Bills Coming from Republican State Senators Seek to Give Greater Protection to Arizona Children and Victims of Abuse

Three new Senate Bills (SB) have been introduced between State Senators Sine Kerr (R-Buckeye) and Janae Shamp (R-Suprise), which aim to provide more protections to children and victims of abuse. Kayleigh Kozak, the Arizonan behind the state’s new “Kayleigh’s Law,” called on residents to support these bills’ passage.

“Prioritize protecting children, victims and our communities,” Kozak shared. “Attend the Arizona State Senate this Thursday, February 9th at 8 am in Senate Hearing Room 1. Sign up to speak or simply show up.”

The bills will be discussed during the Senate Judiciary Committee meeting, which State Sen. Anthony Kern (R-Glendale) chairs. Kozak further stated that anyone who supports the listed bills but cannot attend the meeting should contact the committee members and ask for their support.

The first proposed bill, SB 1253, sponsored by Shamp, involves those required to register to the state’s sex offender list. If the bill becomes law, those on the registry who are the legal gradian of a student enrolled at a public or private school must give the school an annual notice of their registration status.

“Proud to sponsor 1253 which is much needed legislation for the protection of children, victims and our communities,” Shamp tweeted.

Moreover, Kerr sponsored the remaining bills, starting with SB 1582, which could add amendments to Kayleigh’s Law. The original law, which Kerr sponsored after being contacted by Kozak, allows victims of a violence or sex crime to petition the court to prohibit the abuser from contacting the victim if the defendant attempts to terminate their lifetime probation. Kozak shared that she was abused as a child, but her abuser’s life probation kept him from contacting her. However, she learned he was attempting to lift the probation and that nothing would stop him from contacting her should the court side with him, which led to the creation of the law. With the new amendments, the court may not charge the victim with a filing fee for submitting the petition and ensures that the lifetime injunction cannot be set aside.

“When ‘Kayleigh’s Law’ was created we [Kozak and Kerr] knew it would be years of provisions and amendments. We strive for it to be the most effective law and provide victims with the ultimate protection they deserve,” according to Kozak’s announcement.

Kerr’s other bill, SB 1583, involves the sex offender registry and may expand who can be added. If the offender is sentenced with any dangerous crime against children listed under Arizona Revised Statute (ARS) § 13-705, they must be added to the public registry whether the crime was completed or preparatory. They would also be added regardless of the offender’s level, which determines that person’s risk of committing another sex offense.

Furthermore, the Senate is not the only one introducing bills to crack down on sex offenders. State Rep. Quang Nguyen (R-Prescott) introduced House Bill (HB) 2169, which would raise the felony classification for sexual conduct with a minor from class 6 to class 4, which can incur larger fines and jail time. Additionally, the bill would mandate at least one year of jail time for anyone convicted. Opponents of Nguyen’s bill argued that it could have unintentional consequences on those who may be wrongfully convicted of this crime and could take away judicial discretion. The bill ultimately passed through the House Judiciary Committee, but Nguyen stated he would be willing to work with all legislators to make the bill better.

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Neil Jones is a reporter for The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Neil on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Sine Kerr” by Arizona State Legislature. Photo “Janae Shamp” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 3.0. Background Photo “Arizona State Capitol” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.


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