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Area legislator vows to file Caylee's Law in Missouri
DEXTER, Mo. -- If Rep. Billy Pat Wright has his way, Caylee's Law will become part of Missouri statues during the next legislative session.
A petition in support of states adopting Caylee's Law across the nation has been circulating on the Internet and has gained the support of more than a million since Casey Anthony's Florida acquittal on charges of murdering her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, in 2008.
The acquittal brought public outrage and an Oklahoma woman named Michelle Crowder initiated the petition that has now drawn international attention.
"The law would make it a felony for a person to delay reporting a child missing for longer than 12 hours following the child's disappearance," said Wright, R-Dexter.
In the case of Caylee Anthony's disappearance, her mother failed to report her missing until 31 days following her disappearance.
"I've had a number of constituents email me with an interest in having Missouri adopt this law. And so, I've notified all Missouri House representatives as well as members of the Missouri Senate that we need to be putting Caylee's Law into the books in the state of Missouri," Wright said.
"I've received nothing but support so far, and we're really going to push this to become a reality."
The initial steps in making Caylee's Law a reality in Missouri call for members of the House Research Committee to sort through the wording and provisions of such a statute.
There will be many details to work out to make the bill into law. One of the primary focuses will involve the age limit when referring to "children."
"We are thinking that an appropriate age when limiting a parent or guardian to report a child missing would be from birth to eight years old," Wright said.
Wright and his potential co-sponsors, along with the House Research Committee, will be looking at designating those age limits and perhaps designing the law to include an extended limit on hours to notify authorities for children in graduating age groups into the early teen years.
"There's got to be some distinction between when one should report a two-year-old missing as opposed to a 14-year-old missing," he said.
The bill will be discussed later this week as representatives gather for a meeting in the state's capitol on Thursday.
Wright is currently the sole sponsor of the bill to generate the passage of Caylee's Law in Missouri. Co-sponsors of the bill will be sought as the bill is pre-filed in December.
In the meantime, the House Research Committee, upon Wright's recommendation, will begin drafting legal information necessary to send the bill to the legislature in the coming session.
Wright is falling in line with lawmakers across the country in the wake of the Anthony case.
"It's a sad commentary on today's society that a law like Caylee's Law becomes necessary but the recent Anthony case proved that we really do need to put a law like this into place to protect our children," Wright said. "It's all about the children."