LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Steve Bieda (D–Warren) has introduced legislation that would protect a social welfare applicant from providing information to establish paternity, in cases where the child was conceived because of criminal sexual conduct for which the biological father was convicted.

Under current law, a parent seeking public assistance under The Social Welfare Act must fill out an Assistance Application Form that requires an applicant to reveal the biological father of the child. Senate Bill 650 would repeal this requirement language.

“Today is a necessary step toward providing the peace of mind that victims of criminal sexual conduct, and their families, deserve,” Sen. Bieda said. “This bill will ensure that sexual predators cannot continue to mentally or physically prey upon their victims because of a loophole in the existing law that only ends up hurting them.”

Sen. Bieda’s legislation stems from a case in Sanilac County in which a judge granted joint legal custody of a child to a convicted sex offender, after the child’s mother had filed for child support and was subsequently required to list the biological father. The father, a convicted sex offender, was then added to the child’s birth certificate, which gave the judge legal standing to grant joint custody.

“We all strive to do everything we can to protect our children and keep them safe, and this bill will give authorities greater power to accomplish that goal,” Sen. Bieda said. “As I see it, there should never be a loophole for reporting criminal activity that involves children.”

Senate Bill 650 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Families, Seniors and Human Services.