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Bigham expects 'smooth sailing' for child protection bills

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State Rep. Karla Bigham is trying to make sure the laws protecting children keep up with technology with two bills she chief authored.

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One bill would keep registered sex offenders off of social networking sites and Internet games that allow them to communicate with other players. The other one would expand the law against soliciting children through computers or the Internet to include cell phones.

"There have been a couple of instances of people taking pictures of themselves and sending them via cell phones," Bigham said. "It's very important for prosecutors to have very clear laws, so we wanted to make sure that we specifically had cell phones in there too."

Bigham said she introduced the bill that would keep registered sex offenders off sites like MySpace and Facebook last year, but it was sent back to committee because other legislators raised concerns that it didn't include online games where players can talk with each other.

Registered sex offenders are already subject to warrantless searches of their homes, bodies and cars, Bigham said. This legislation would extend that to computers, she said.

Minnesota's attorney general gave Bigham the idea for the bill, she said.

"We both saw it as kind of a loophole and a way to be preventative," she said.

Bigham said she thinks both bills have a good chance of making it through committee and house votes this year, because they don't require additional spending.

"I think we should have smooth sailing and I look forward to working through the committee process," she said.

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