Thursday, April 22, 2010
Today members of Florida’s Senate joined the members of Florida’s House of Representatives in demonstrating great leadership by passing unanimously Florida’s groundbreaking ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ sponsored by child advocates Representative Darryl Rouson (St. Petersburg) and Senator Eleanor Sobel (Ft. Lauderdale). HB 787 will become law once Governor Crist signs the bill, as he expected to within the next few days.
On a House floor vote that occurred yesterday, HB 787 passed unanimously with 115 ‘Yeas’ to 0 ‘Nays’. Today, the Senate unanimously passed the legislation with 38 ‘Yeas’ and 0 ‘Nays’ votes.
Representative Darryl Rouson, who sponsored and guided the landmark legislation through the House of Representatives said, “Our children in the state of Florida have every right to be protected from any and all forms of abuse. The ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ will in fact protect our children from the abuse associated with the criminal act of child stealing. With an estimated 16,000 international child abductions alone in our country last year – a number that is growing at 40% per year - how could we as lawmakers not act expeditiously in order to protect our state’s and nation’s future: our treasured children? We simply cannot. It required a great deal of work, but today we now wait for Governor Crist’s signing of this bill into law. I say with great pride that the lawmakers of the great state of Florida realized the importance of this law and acted unilaterally for the best interest of the children of our state.”
Carolyn Ann Vlk, the ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ bill author, stated, “Today is a wondrous day! What began as not much more that a mother’s dream is now almost a reality. When I began writing Florida’s ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ it was my greatest desire that my home state put into place child abduction prevention legislation that could be utilized as precedence for other states. As soon as Governor Crist signs the proposed legislation into law, we will have that ability. Words cannot adequately express my appreciation for the bipartisan support exhibited while working together in creating legislation to protect all children. This is a moment I have long awaited and showcases democracy at its finest. What an outstanding day for the children and families of Florida.”
According to leading experts and advocates who focus in the area of parental child abduction, prevention law is critical. Outspoken children’s advocate and author of ‘Chasing The Cyclone’, Peter Thomas Senese, one of the bill’s lead advocates, added, “Child abduction prevention laws are a necessity and an integral part of each state’s ability to protect the best interests of their children-citizens who are at risk of abduction. Without a court’s ability to consider risk factors associated with a potential threat of abduction combined with the capability to act in ways that would prevent this crime from happening, the growing malignant plague of international parental child abduction that has silently swept through our nation will continue to increase. What is at risk as a nation is the disappearance of our most precious commodity: our children. And with international parental child abduction growing at approximately rapidly, laws such as Florida’s ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ will be our nation’s first line of defense against international parental child abduction. I suspect that many states that do not have preventive laws have now watched the great leadership Florida’s legislators demonstrated today. As a successful Chasing Parent who knows all too well the horrors associated with chasing the cyclones of international parental child abduction, I am deeply pleased in the knowledge that parents and their children who will come after me will benefit from the extensive effort put forth. No child or parent should ever have to know what it is like to have one parent attempt to steal and disappear with your child. This law will prevent much of this from happening. And I want to add that so much thanks must be extended to the amazing writer and spirit of the legislation, Carolyn Ann Vlk, and to Representative Darryl Rouson and his legislative aide Henry Moseley, Senator Eleanor Sobel and her legislative aide Nick Matthews, and the rest of the team that put their hearts, spirit, and best effort into guiding the passage of this what we expect to be an incredible law. Today is a great day for not only the children of Florida, but children our entire nation.”
If signed by child advocate Governor Crist as expected, HB 787 – The ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ will go into effect on January 1st, 2011.
Carolyn Ann Vlk concluded, “As the bill’s author, I would like to share with the people of my state that none of this would have been possible if it were not for Representative Darryl Rouson. He is a champion of our children. And Senator Eleanor Sobel acted in great ways to protect the children of our state. I want to thank each of them, along with their respective legislative aides, Henry Moseley and Nick Matthews, for all they have done.”
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