As lawmakers begin what could be the final weekend of the 2009 legislative session, the House is scheduled on Friday to consider a bill that would make changes in Iowa’s sex offender laws.
Tonight, the Iowa Senate passed the legislation at the urging of Senator Keith Kreiman, a Democrat from Bloomfield.
“This legislation increases supervision of violent offenders, keeps sex offenders from hanging schools and other places children gather and improves the safety of our communities,” Kreiman said.
The bill creates new “safe zones” where paroled sex offenders are forbidden, places like schools, parks, day cares, libraries and public swimming pools. The state law which has banned all convicted sex offenders from living within two-thousand feet of a school or daycare will apply only to those who have committed “crimes against children,” according to Kreiman.
“This legislation recognizes that regulating where a sex offender spends their days is as important as tracking where they sleep,” Kreiman said.
Senator Pat Ward, a Republican from West Des Moines, was among the handful of legislators who worked behind-the-scenes on the bill.
“This bill is an example of what is good in politics. Democrats and Republicans have come together and worked to improve the 2000 foot rule that applies to sex offenders,” Ward said. “This is 2000-foot Plus.”
Ward argued the new restrictions on where sex offenders may go and what they can do will make Iowa communities safer. For example, those who’ve been convicted of a sex crime against a child will be barred from working or volunteering at a school, day care or other institution which serves children.
“We worked on this bill not as Democrats, not as Republicans, but as people who care passionately about protecting children from sex offenders,” Ward said.
The bill passed the senate on a 49 to 0 vote. Governor Culver issued a written statement early Thursday afternoon, praising legislators for their “bipartisan effort” to improve Iowa’s sex offender laws.
Click on the audio link below to listen to senators discuss the bill.