Things just got a little easier for children exposed to methamphetamine thanks to the effort of Erath County Sheriff Tommy Bryant who pushed for a change in a law that would allow authorities to charge parents with endangerment when they expose their children to the drug.

Late last week, Bryant learned his effort was successful. Gov. Rick Perry signed into law House Bill 946, which will go into effect Sept. 1.

In April, Bryant traveled to Austin to testify before the Committee on Law Enforcement requesting to change a law which stated that parents can only be charged with endangering a child if they manufacture the drug in the child’s presence. Bryant said he didn’t believe the law went far enough to protect children from exposure. 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.

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.

“I want to hold parents accountable when they subject their children to the drug,” Bryant said in a previous interview. “Parents who use the drug or allow others to use the drug in their child’s presence can now be charged with endangering their child.”

Bryant said he is “very excited” legislators heard his concern and acted. He credited State Representative Sid Miller for helping push the legislation through.

HB 946 passed the House and Senate with tremendous consent and very little opposition, Miller said.

“My concern is for the children. This was a much needed piece of legislation,” Miller said. “When Sheriff Bryant informed me about the number of cases he sees each year involving parents putting their kids in grave danger because of a drug habit, and yet the county had no authority to charge these parents with child endangerment and prosecute accordingly, I filed HB 946 immediately.”

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.