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New York State Senator Rich Funke (R-Pittsford) has co-sponsored legislation which would allow municipalities to have local control over where sex offenders are allowed to live, a press release from his office stated.
Currently, the state holds the authority over the decision.
“No two kids are the same, no two communities are the same, and that means that no two solutions to keep our children safe will be the same,” Funke stated. “Local communities need local control to set restrictions that make sense for their neighborhoods and families. I am proud to be co-sponsoring legislation that empowers communities to establish their own laws for sex offender residency, and I look forward to working with my Senate colleagues to pass it as soon as possible.”
Funke and other Senate Republicans, including Sen. Venditto (R-C-I, Massapequa), and Sen. Terrence Murphy (R-C-I, Yorktown), introduced the legislation following a Feb. 17 Court of Appeals ruling which said local laws are pre-empted by state laws.
The court overturned a Nassau County law which prohibited all registered sex offenders from residing within 1000 feet of a school.
As a result, Funke said the decision would immediately call into question sex offender residency restrictions already on the books in municipalities across the state.
In addition, he said it would call into question a new, proposed law in Penfield.
According to the press release, The Penfield Child Safety Act includes a restriction which would prohibit the residency of registered Level Two and Level Three sex offenders within designated Child Safe Zones, or 2,000 feet from any schools, parks, playgrounds, town facilities, or daycare centers.
The legislation was proposed, in part, due to the discovery that a Level Three sex offender had recently established residency less than 200 feet from Penfield’s Veterans Memorial Park, home to the town’s Little League fields.
“When our town board received notice that a level 3 sex offender was living just a few hundred feet from one of our most attractive parks, we knew we needed to look for a better way to protect our youngest residents, our children,” said Tony LaFountain, supervisor of the Town of Penfield. “The state legislation lacked appropriate protection, and did not adequately address someone living next to our many parks, playgrounds and town facilities. Penfield is fortunate to have Sen. Funke fighting for our children, and their families, by introducing legislation to clarify the current state law, and to allow local communities to set residency restrictions.”
According to the press release, Funke’s legislation includes two sections: the first clarifies the legislature’s intent to allow municipalities to enact local laws regarding where registered sex offenders may reside; and the second explicitly authorizes municipalities to impose such restrictions.