Senate approves Amelia's Law; now heads to Haslam

(WBIR-Nashville) The Senate unanimously passed Amelia's Law (SB1962/HB1759) Thursday, sending it to Governor Bill Haslam's desk for final approval.

Named after Amelia Keown, who died in August, 2012, the bill allows a judge to order offenders and parolees to wear a monitoring devices if alcohol or drugs played a role in their crimes.

According to investigators, John Perkins was out on parole and speeding in Maryville when he crashed head on into Keown, who was heading home after school to pick up pom poms for dance practice. Toxicology reports showed oxycodone and methamphetamine in Perkins' system at the time of the crash.

"I won't say it destroyed our family but it, it left a huge void," said Amanda Moore, Amelia's mother, and Wayne Keown, Amelia's grandfather.

Both traveled to Nashville to hear the bill on the Senate floor.

"It's very bittersweet. I'm very proud of what we've been able to accomplish but it's really hard, the reason why we're here," said Moore. "I'm very happy that we got this far this quick because even though it feels like it's been forever, it hasn't."

Related: Tennessee House approves Amelia's Law

The House passed the bill 92-0 last Thursday.

If the Governor signs Amelia's Law, a judge would have the ability to order people convicted of drug and alcohol related crimes to wear a transdermal monitoring device, which tests blood for alcohol and drugs every 30 minutes.

"Had they been monitoring him and tracking him something could have been done to prevent him from killing her that day," said Moore. "Our hope is that it saves lives and that another family doesn't have to go through what we're going through."

"There will always be a hole in our hearts," said Keown. "It doesn't really help us that much and I'm glad that this bill has passed, but I'm certain that in the future this bill will help the people of Tennessee."

Moore and Keown said they are grateful for the support of lawmakers, including Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, and State Rep. Bob Ramsey, R-Maryville.

"We want to thank them," they said. "Them stepping up and saying 'you're right, something does have to change'."

The family tried to get a similar bill passed last year but it failed in the Tennessee House of Representatives.

If the governor gives final approval, the bill would go into effect in July.

Amelia would have turned 18 in three weeks.


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