Skip to comments.CA: Legislative logjam hindering bills to reinforce Megan's Law
Posted on 06/17/2003 12:32:14 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
SAN FRANCISCO – Two dozen bills designed to bolster California's Megan's Law are struggling in the Legislature as politicians haggle over details and accuse each other of going soft on sex offenders.
"Who loses are the parents and kids. Megan's Law has gotten caught between Republicans and Democrats. It's really a game of who can outdo the other, who's got the toughest law or whose does the most," said Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter. Florez thinks the most important piece of legislation is his proposal requiring law enforcement to check in with sex offenders instead of the other way around.
He also said the state auditor's look at the database will provide useful information. That audit is expected to be finished in August.
The Associated Press in January found the state doesn't know the location of at least 33,296 sex offenders, or 44 percent of the 76,350 who registered at least once since 1946. That doesn't include the offenders who never registered as required.
At least 24 bills have been introduced since then, aimed at strengthening existing laws that require rapists and child molesters to register addresses, phone numbers and other personal information with local law enforcement agency at least once a year.
The bills include proposals requiring sex offenders to renew their driver's licenses every year using their addresses and photographs; annual checks by every police department; biannual local reports that could be compared with the state database; and assignment of a full-time staff person in every county to notify neighbors who live near a sex offender.
But with the state facing a projected $38 billion deficit, few stand a chance of survival.
Making the sex offender registry accessible on the Internet has become a key issue for lawmakers since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in March that posting such information is constitutional. About 35 states have Internet listings, most of them featuring photographs.
In the Senate, a bill requiring the state Justice Department to post information about sex offenders online has been stalled in committee.
Even though the estimated cost is $1 million, Florez, one of the bill's sponsors, said he's negotiating with Internet companies that may be willing to provide their services for free.
In the Assembly, a similar bill by Assemblywoman Nicole Parra, D-Hanford, died after Democrats failed to support it. She has moved it temporarily to inactive status, but could reintroduce it later, her spokeswoman said yesterday.
Republicans have blasted Parra for caving in to Democrats' demands to change the bill, accusing her of jeopardizing children's safety and dealing a blow to parents across the state.