March 3, 2017

Sex Offenders in Small Texas Towns Get Lawmakers' Attention

3-3-17 Texas:

AUSTIN, TX— - State lawmakers have filed several bills to add more restrictions on where registered sex offenders can live in Texas.

The seven bills, all filed by Republicans, are practically identical. The legislation would allow small cities, in Texas to set up new “child safety zones.”

It all comes down to population size, the bills focus on cities with fewer than 5,000 people, known as General-law cities.

A 2007 legal opinion issued by then-Attorney General Greg Abbott found, unlike larger cities, general-law cities don't have the power to dictate where registered sex offenders can live.

State Rep. Drew Springer said that discrepancy has made some small towns more attractive to sex offenders.

“You can go to the website and see how many live in these towns,” said Springer. The Muenster Republican said complaints from constituents prompted him to file House Bill 207, one of five similar bills introduced in the Texas House this session.

Springer said small cities in his district have seen a “disproportionate amount” of sex offenders per capita in recent years.

“Moving into small towns they were saying, ‘okay there’s less rules and regulations here, we’re going to move there.’ So that is one of the concerns,” said Springer.

More than a dozen general-law cities are being sued for ignoring the current state law and imposing residency restriction. ..Continued.. by Rachel Glaser

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