People in our area know me as a pretty easy-going guy, but I was irked today when the majority voted down an amendment to address how we prosecute certain homicide suspects.
I, along with Rep. Torrey Westrom of Elbow Lake, have been working on legislation called Emily’s Law the last three sessions. We created Emily’s Law in response to the June 17, 2006 death of 2-year-old Emily Lynn Johnson. She died of a severe head injury one day after being assaulted by a 13-year-old boy at day care in Fergus Falls.
Two years ago the legislation passed the House floor only to be dumped by a conference committee. The bill passed again last year only to …
Emily’s Law calls for the age of adult certification for juvenile violent offenses to be lowered from 14 to 13. The legislation also lengthens the amount of time the offense stays on the perpetrator’s record and does not allow the record to be expunged until the perpetrator turns 28. At least a dozen other states have set the adult certification age at below 14 and several are as low as 10 years old.
We made some changes to this year’s version in an attempt to gain full support of the Legislature, but the majority never granted us a hearing. That meant the bill could not be presented as a stand-alone bill on the House floor. We had no choice but to introduce it as an amendment to a public safety bill.
There is an old adage that says legislators are not supposed to become emotionally attached to their bills because of the consequences you may suffer if things go awry. But, to me, this bill is about more than the piece of paper on which it’s written. This bill is about holding perpetrators of heinous crimes against children accountable and when the majority plays political games to stop our progress, you’re darn right I get upset.
I may be miffed, but I’m not discouraged because I will not give up on protecting our children. This is not the last you’ll hear of Emily’s Law.
Until next time,