House kills bill to allow tighter sex offender residency restrictions

Posted April 12, 2011, at 1:58 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — House lawmakers on Tuesday followed the lead of the Senate and voted to kill a bill that would have given rural municipalities more flexibility in restricting where convicted sex offenders can live.

The bill, LD 8, would have allowed towns without a police chief to enact local ordinances prohibiting certain sex offenders from living within 2,500 feet of a public or private school. Current law allows towns to exclude sex offenders from living within 750 feet of schools.

Supporters argued that the measure would help protect children in rural towns that lack a regular police presence to keep an eye on convicted sex offenders.

But opponents, including law enforcement officials, said Maine’s current law is effective and that creating a 2,500-foot exclusion zone could make matters worse by driving sex offenders into even more rural areas far from treatment. They also pointed out that the family members — not strangers — commit the vast majority of cases of sexual abuse of children.

The House voted 93-56 to kill the bill. The measure died on a 19-16 vote in the Senate last week.

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