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Legislation that would prohibit convicted sex offenders from operating ice cream vending trucks has been approved by the Oklahoma Senate.
Senate Bill 1147 by Sen. Jay Paul Gumm would criminalize the operation of ice cream trucks by registered sex offenders. The bill was suggested by a constituent concerned about how close the vendors get to children in communities across the state.
“When we were children, our parents didn’t have to worry about the ice cream man,” said Gumm, a Democrat from Durant. “Now, we have to worry about the unthinkable. This bill, if it becomes law, will mean there is one less thing about which parents must worry.”
According to news reports, convicted sex offenders operating ice cream trucks have been convicted of harming children in both New York and Florida. Just last summer, a convicted sex offender was discovered operating an ice cream truck in a California community.
“That should never happen,” Gumm said. “Ice cream trucks are an important part of childhood; they should not be ways for predators to lure children.”
Any sex offender found to be operating an ice cream delivery truck would be punished by as much as a 2½ year prison sentence and/or a $1,000 fine. The bill also would allow law enforcement to arrest anyone they believe is violating the law.
Further, every company operating ice cream vending trucks would be required to conduct an annual name search against the Oklahoma Sex Offender Registry for each operator, and maintain the results of that search. If a company discovers a sex offender, they would be required to report that information to the district attorney.
The measure drew support from the ice cream vending industry. In a letter to Senator Gumm, Chris T. Long, legislative chairperson with the International Association of Ice Cream Vendors, said the measure should be considered a national model for the issue.
“In the end, I believe your final draft of Senate Bill 1147 should be presented as a model bill on this issue in the future,” he wrote. “With your permission, I will be archiving this bill so that it can be presented to other states, cities, or municipalities in the future.”
Gumm, who championed the death penalty for repeat child molesters, said with this bill, Oklahoma continues to be a national leader in efforts to protect children from predators.
“Nothing on this Earth is more precious than a child,” he said. “Our greatest responsibility as a state and as parents is to ensure every child has a chance to grow up safe and healthy.”
The measure will now advance to the House of Representatives where Rep. Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs, will sponsor it