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Village joins fight over sex offender laws

Falls opposes bills that would prohibit local residency ordinances

March 17, 2010

Menomonee Falls — The village has joined other Wisconsin communities in opposing proposed state legislation that would prohibit local governments from enacting and enforcing sex offender residency restriction and child safety zone ordinances.

The village enacted a sex offender restriction and child safety zone ordinance in 2007. A person convicted of a sexually violent offense and/or a crime against children cannot reside within 1,500 feet of any facilities for children, including playgrounds, schools, day care centers, parks and the library.

Further, no offender is allowed in designated child safety zones within the village, including parks, the library, playgrounds, schools and day care centers.

Bills would undo local laws

However, Senate Bill 548 and Assembly Bill 759 would negate those local controls.

The bills that the Department of Corrections maintains active lifetime Global Positioning System tracking of sex offenders, and creates areas where offenders are prohibited from entering and areas they are prohibited from leaving. Prohibited areas include schools, day care centers, playgrounds, parks and published school bus stops.

Village President Randy Newman on Monday noted the work and public input that went into the village's ordinance.

"I thought we crafted a fair ordinance," he said, adding that even with the restrictions the village still has areas for sex offenders to live and is able to "take our own back."

Communities band together

Franklin is spearheading a campaign to defeat the bills, and leaders there have reached out to other communities, including Menomonee Falls, to seek support in opposing the legislation. The Village Board on Monday unanimously approved a resolution doing just that.

Newman said he doesn't like the state telling local leaders how to run the village.

Trustee Sharon Ellis said the situation makes one wonder what is going through the minds of people in Madison.

Village Attorney Michael Morse said proponents of the bills are against the local controls because they could force more sex offenders into Milwaukee.

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