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Push to allow localities to restrict where sex offenders can live

Nassau GOP lawmakers gathered in Garden City on

Nassau GOP lawmakers gathered in Garden City on Friday, May 1, 2015 to call on Assembly Democrats to support a State Senate bill that would allow local municipalities to again impose their own restrictions of where registered sex offenders can live. Credit: Newsday / Jessica Rotkiewicz

Nassau GOP lawmakers Friday called on Assembly Democrats to support State Senate legislation that would allow municipalities to again impose restrictions on where convicted sex offenders can live.

The bill was prompted by a state Court of Appeals ruling in February that local governments cannot impose conditions on the residency of sex offenders or override state law on the issue.

Nassau County lawmakers passed a bill in 2006 that prohibits Level 1, 2 and 3 sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school. State law applies residency restrictions only to Level 3 sex offenders, who are considered most at risk of reoffending.

The State Senate has approved a bill by Sen. Michael Venditto (R-Massapequa) that would allow local governments to enact restrictions on sex offenders -- even if they go beyond state law.

The bill passed 55-4.

"We trust our local municipalities to work with the residents who they represent to reinstate these laws," Venditto said Friday at a news conference at a playground at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow.

Assemb. Ed Ra (R-Franklin Square), who has introduced companion legislation in the Assembly, said municipalities need the ability to adopt restrictions that work for their communities.

"The distances and restrictions that may be appropriate in one area may not be sufficient to protect the residents of another area," Ra said.

Michael Whyland, spokesman for Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx), declined to comment on Ra's bill but said the Democrat-led chamber will host a meeting May 20 in Albany with experts on sex offender restrictions.

"There remains in place under the law a restriction on Level 3 offenders and those who committed their crimes against minors who are on probation or parole from living within 1,000 feet of a school," Whyland said.

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