House passes Oklahoma bill to ban sex offenders from all parks

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OKLAHOMA CITY, OK -- Oklahoma lawmakers are cracking down on sex offenders.

A bill that passed the state House of Representatives on Monday would prohibit sex offenders from visiting any recreational park in Oklahoma.

State representative, Josh Cockroft, authored the legislation to include any neighborhood, county, or state park, as off limits to habitual or aggravated sex offenders.

Parent Amanda Holmes says, "I think it's an awesome bill that they've passed and you know hopefully there will be no more loopholes."

Holmes says the new law would allow her to breathe a sigh of relief.

"That's one of my biggest fears, is for someone to just be watching, if not taking," said Holmes.

"You know you can't be too careful, not with little kids, you know, and they just want to be friends with everybody," said grandparent, Sharon Burpo.

While opponents say the bill isn't fair to low-level offenders, Burpo and babysitters like Alicia Fahlbusch say they don't want to take any chances.

Fahlbucsh said, "She's 2 years old. She'll literally say hi to anyone and if some pervert comes to the park with candy and they're like 'here follow me' she's going to follow them and I believe they shouldn't be around parks."

After noticing loopholes in current sex offender bans, which define "parks" more loosely, the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department requested the bill.

Public information officer, Leslie Blair says, "This law will allow our rangers to make a determination about sex offenders more quickly and so it takes out any ambiguity in references to parks."

Blair says the bill will allow rangers to make state parks safer for visitors.

"They're a very safe place to come and so this bill is just an additional tool in the tool box for our rangers," said Blair.

Fahlbucsh said, "I hope it goes through because, you know, parks and schools should be safe for the kids to enjoy."

The bill now heads over to the Senate for consideration.

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