Iowa lawmakers are deciding against taking action on some controversial issues in their push to complete the work of the 2007 Legislative session and adjourn this weekend.
Iowa’s law enforcement community has been complaining about the state law which says sex offenders may not live within 2000 feet of a school or daycare. Legislators are leaving that law intact, however, to the disgust of retired state patrolman Clel Baudler, a Republican from Greenfield who is a member of the Iowa House.
Baudler says legislators are afraid their 2008 opponents will use it against them. "Because of politics, everybody’s scared of postcards coming saying, ‘You’re weaker on crime than I am,’" Baudler says.
Baudler wanted to set a tough manditory prison sentence for first-time sex offenders who prey on children.
Senator Keith Kreiman, a Democrat from Bloomfield, tried to pass another bill which would make it a crime for sex offenders to enter schools, parks and day care centers. He also wanted to raise the penalty for failing to register as a sex offender. "We’ve lost track of 300 to 400 of these sex offenders already and we’re probably going to lose track of more," Kreiman says. "That makes our communities a little bit less safe."
Kreiman says Republicans pressed for other changes, like longer prison sentences for those convicted of sexually abusing children. The two parties just couldn’t reach an agreement on the specifics. "I think it was critical that we get something done this year and I’m very disappointed that we didn’t," Kreiman says.
Kreiman and Baudler both say they’ll continue talking, and hope to find agreement in 2008. "I’m not going to give up on this and I know…Senator Kreiman isn’t going to give up on it because it’s important to the people of Iowa," Baudler says.
But legislators have given up on the idea of resolving the issue this year.