Excerpted from lohud. By Nancy Cutler

Playing Santa could soon require a mandatory background check.

State Sen. James Skoufis introduced a bill this week that specifically requires background checks for a person who would be employed as a children’s character. A similar bill has not yet been introduced in the Assembly.

The law would apply to would-be workers who dress as Santa, the Easter Bunny or other child-centric characters that interact with children.

Employers would be mandated to run a person’s name through child abuse and sex offender registries. Knowingly hiring an offender would be a Class A misdemeanor.

Adults dressed as Santa or other children’s characters interact with hundreds of thousands of New York children every year, Skoufis said, including by having kids sit on their lap.

Others who work with children, like coaches for youth sports, are required to undergo screening to determine if they have a history of child sexual abuse.

“There’s a list, it’s time we check it twice,” Skoufis, D-Woodbury, Orange County, said. “The disturbing reality is that around the country, there have been incidents where sex offenders have been hired as Santa, exposing children to significant threats.”

In 2018, a Florida registered sex offender was arrested in a park on his way to a Santa gig; he was busted for failing to meet offender reporting requirements, specifically by not listing his Santa Claus job. A Missouri Santa in 2015 was accused of sexually abusing a 7-year-old girl.

“It’s shocking to me that this isn’t law already,” Skoufis said. “Let’s not waste another holiday season allowing our children to be put at risk.”