A proposed change in a law aimed at protecting children from exposure to methamphetamine is one step closer to becoming a reality.

In April, Erath County Sheriff Tommy Bryant traveled to Austin to testify before the Committee on Law Enforcement to push for a change in a law that would allow authorities to charge parents with endangering a child when they use meth or allow others to use meth in their child’s presence.

The law currently states that parents can only be charged if they manufacture the drug in the child’s presence.

“I want to hold parents accountable when anyone uses meth around a child, not just when they manufacture it,” Bryant said.

Earlier this week, Bryant learned that the change he is requesting has passed the House and is now headed for the Senate.

“I was told that if there was no quarreling about it, it will go to Governor Perry’s desk,” Bryant said.

Prompted by a growing frustration over the increased number of children testing positive for the drug, Bryant began searching for ways to hold parents accountable last year. Bryant said when meth is smoked in the home the drug can enter the child’s system through inhalation and exposure to carpet and clothing containing the drug’s residue.

Bryant said he is pleased that legislators are listening to what he has to say and acting on his suggestion.

“This is the first time I have sought help from the Legislature to change a law or a bill - and I never expected to testify in Austin,” Bryant said. “What this tells me is that the changes we are trying to get passed are good and others agree. I believe this change will help a lot of children living in homes where drugs are being abused.”

SARA VANDEN BERGE covers courts, law enforcement, and business and political issues for the Empire-Tribune. She can be reached at sara.vandenberge@empiretribune.com. Her work number is 968-2379, ext. 240.