Bill would restrict sex offender residency near parks

The Judiciary Committee heard testimony March 13 on a bill meant to restrict certain sex offenders from living near parks.

The state’s Sexual Predator Residency Restriction Act currently allows a political subdivision to adopt regulations to restrict sexual predators from living within 500 feet of a school or child care facility.

LB473, sponsored by Hoskins Sen. Dave Bloomfield, would extend that authority to restrict residency near parks.

The bill defines a park is defined as a parcel of ground or a facility established by a political subdivision for recreational use by the public that covers at least 2,500 square feet.

The bill also expands the definition of sexual predator of children to include a sex offender who has been convicted of a crime that involved the penetration or direct genital touching of, oral to anal contact with or oral to genital contact with a person younger than 13 years old.

The residency restriction would not apply if a sexual predator had established a residence before the bill’s effective date and had not moved from that residence, or if a park triggering the restriction is established after the effective date.

Bloomfield said the bill was necessary because South Sioux City experienced an influx of sex offenders following passage of a similar bill in Iowa.

“This bill does nothing more than add parks to the list of places that can be restricted,” he said.

Ed Mahon of the South Sioux City Police Department testified in support of the bill, saying it would address concerns of parents in the area.

Between five and 10 individuals on Iowa’s sex offender registry recently have moved to South Sioux City due to Nebraska’s less stringent residency guidelines, he said.

Eric Baird of Papillion testified in opposition, saying residency restrictions create displacement of individuals on the sex offender registry without providing meaningful protection for children.

“It’s a symbolic law, not an effective law,” he said.

The committee took no immediate action on the bill.

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