Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Governor Signs Community Service for Child Support Bill

OKLAHOMA CITY – Gov. Mary Fallin recently signed into law a measure that officials hope will encourage parents to stay up to date on their child support payments.

Rep. Jon Echols
R-Oklahoma City
House Bill 2166, by state Rep. Jon Echols and state Sen. Brian Crain, authorizes courts to require individuals who are willingly unemployed and who owe child support to work two eight-hour-days per week in a community service program administered by the county commissioners.

“This bill will encourage personal accountability among able bodied parents,” said Echols, R-Oklahoma City. “Your children, whether they live with you or not, are your responsibility alone. If a person cannot or will not provide the financial support the court has required of them, there needs to be consequences.”

Crain said every parent has a responsibility to take care of their children.

“It is saddening and infuriating that people are more interested in their money than their family,” said Sen. Crain, R- Tulsa. “This creates a method for the judiciary to protect the children and hopefully instill right-thinking in the dead-beat parent.”

Oklahoma County Commissioner Brian Maughan, whose SHINE community service program inspired the legislation, said giving judges the authority to sentence deadbeat parents to community service will provide a potent new tool to encourage them to meet their child support obligations.

“Working two days a week picking up litter or painting over graffiti might just provide the motivation some of these non-paying parents need,” said Maughan. “We are ready and eager to start enrolling any parent sentenced by the judges in SHINE as a way to encourage them to get to work and live up to their responsibilities.”

Maughan said other counties have inquired about ways to emulate the successful SHINE program, and that the new legislation will add to that urgency.

“This is a model program that can save jail costs, teach offenders important lessons about personal responsibility and improve our community at the same time,” said Maughan. “I am grateful to Rep. Echols and Sen. Crain for sponsoring this important bill and to Gov. Fallin for signing it.”

HB 2166 passed overwhelmingly out of both chambers of the Legislature, including votes of 97-1 in the House and 47-1 in the Senate.

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