A piece of legislation proposed by a southwest Minnesota mother is being discussed by state lawmakers this week. Jacob's Law, which would require parents to be notified if their child is the victim of an alleged crime, will go before a Minnesota House of Representatives committee today.
Sarah Guggisberg, the Clara City resident who began campaigning for the law last fall, said this week that she will be among the people providing testimony to the House Public Safety and Crime Crime Prevention Policy and Finance Committee. If the law is passed, she hopes it will help families that have been affected by crimes like sexual abuse.
District 13B Rep. Bruce Vogel, R-Willmar, an author of the Jacob's Law bill, said the Public Safety committee will examine the proposed law change to see if any changes need to be made.
"I'm not sure if it will need to go to another committee" after the Public Safety committee, Vogel said of the bill. "But if it's approved, we will go back to the floor with it."
Last fall, Guggisberg had approached Vogel about drafting Jacob's Law, which she had named after her son. Guggisberg said her son had been sexually abused while staying with family in Lyon County in 2005, but Guggisberg maintains that while authorities had received information about the incident, she was never contacted.
Jacob's Law, officially House File 1899, would amend existing state law to require that parents and guardians of a child be notified of victim's rights if the child is the victim of an alleged crim. Social services would also be notified if a child is abused outside the home, and access to police reports on a child would be made part of a parent or guardian's rights.
Vogel said so far, there has been good support for the proposed law among legislators. In addition to Vogel, four other legislators helped write the bill, including District 21A Rep. Chris Swedzinski, R-Ghent, District 22A Rep. Joe Schomacker, R-Luverne, District 13A Rep. Paul Anderson, R-Starbuck and District 20B Rep. Lyle Koenen, DFL-Clara City.
However, a lot of the feedback on the bill has come from sources like law enforcement and social services, Vogel said.
"We've had a lot of good input from stakeholders," he said. That input will be important because Jacob's Law could have major ramifications for other agencies, especially law enforcement agencies. Members of the Public Safety committee may have their own feedback and suggestions, he said. The feedback could lead to further changes in the bill.
If there turns out to be additional issues with the bill, Vogel said it would also be possible to "lay it over," and try to make more changes.