The leader of Republicans in the state Senate says lawmakers have been surprised by the steps cities have taken to enact tougher local ordinances than the new, statewide law that restricts where sex offenders may live. That law forbids convicted sex offenders from living within two-thousand feet of a school or day care. Last (Monday) night, Des Moines became the latest city to enact an even stricter ordinance that essentially makes the capitol city a sex offender-free zone.
Senate Republican Leader Stewart Iverson of Dows says there’s been “some discussion” among senators today about the Des Moines City Council’s action. “We’re kind of wondering how many other cities are going to pass some ordinances,” Iverson says. “Is it an issue that we need to revisit?” Iverson says lawmakers are considering limiting the list of “sex offenders” who would be subject to the living restriction to just those found guilty of preying on children.
Iverson says you could separate some sex offenders out, such as those who have a conviction at age 18 or 19 for having a “consensual relationship” with a 15-year-old. But Iverson says there’s no guarantee lawmakers will act in 2006 to make any adjustments to the law. “It’s certainly a possibility, but I think it’s too early to say ‘Yea, something definitely is going to happen,'” Iverson says.
Two-thousand feet is less than half-a-mile, and Iverson says legislators were surprised there were just two neighborhoods in Des Moines that weren’t covered by the state law. Now, the city ordinance forbids sex offenders from moving into those two neighborhoods.
Governor Tom Vilsack said last week it would be “politically” impossible to repeal the law which established the living restrictions for sex offenders. Iverson does not agree. Iverson says it’s not a “partisan issue” and he’s willing to sit down with leaders of both political parties and find out if there’s something that can and should be done. “I think that’s the prudent thing to do and I think that’s what most people would expect us to do,” Iverson says.