PM Email this article • Print this article Proposed bill threatens to overturn Village Sex Offender residency requirements

Proposed bill threatens to overturn Village Sex Offender residency requirements

Karen Mahoney

State legislators are considering altering rules for the placement of sex offenders that could replace previously passed guidelines from individual municipalities.

The Village of Union Grove, which passed a strict policy for placing sex offenders, are asking the state not to proceed with these changes and they are backed by state Sen. Mary Lazich Senate District 28, and Rep. Jeff Stone 82nd Assembly District. If passed, Senate Bill 548 and Assembly Bill 759 would nullify or invalidate the Village of Union Grove’s Sex Offender Residency and Child Safety Zone Ordinances.

After months of work, the Police Commission and Village passed limits on sex offenders’ residency April 19, 2008 that prevents registered sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of school properties, parks, trails, day care centers, places of worship and places children gather. Additionally, registered sex offenders may not loiter more than 250 feet from the aforementioned areas.

Lazich testified in opposition to the bill in Madison, March 11.

“Assembly Bill 759 (AB 759) and Senate Bill 548 (SB 548) impose the greatest risk to children and families in the state of Wisconsin,” she told the state Assembly Committee on Corrections and the Courts. “Eliminating local ordinances that allow local communities and local law enforcement to do their jobs to protect society would put all residents, particularly children, in danger.”

According to the Village Board, the Department of Corrections officials have expressed concern with the proposed regulations due to the potential difficulty of placing sex offenders under such standards.

In February, SB 548 and AB 759 were introduced on the state level. A portion of the bills would prohibit any political subdivision from enacting or enforcing an ordinance or resolution that affects the placement or residency of, or areas that may or may not be entered, by a sex offender.

Village Board President Mike Aimone said the bill would supersede previously enacted regulations, such as the Village’s standards.

“Basically, the offenders would be allowed to live near 200 feet of any place that children gather,” he said. “This would affect over 100 communities in the state that have sex offenders.”

The Board unanimously voted to oppose the bills and urged residents to contact local representatives.

“For the sake of our children, it should not be up to the Department of Corrections to make the decisions where to locate the sex offenders, but it should be up to the Village to make the decision,” said Aimone.

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