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Lawmakers consider tightening sex offender rules

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014 11:42 p.m. CDT

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois lawmakers are considering legislation that would fill in gaps in the state's sex offender laws, including one proposal that would bar convicted sex offenders from attending county fairs.

The twin pieces of legislation were introduced after lawmakers said they encountered holes in the current statutes, the Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises newspapers reported.

"Attending the county fair is geared more toward families," said state Rep. Mike Smiddy, a Democrat from Port Byron who sponsored one of the bills. "A lot of children are there. They have a lot of children's events, like tractor pulls and stuff, attached to these things. I just don't believe that a registered sex offender should be allowed to go to those areas where children are present."

Smiddy said he introduced the measure at the request of officials in Whiteside County. Sex offenders would still be allowed to attend the state fair if the bill passes. They're already banned from working at county fairs.

The second bill would require convicted sex offenders who lose their jobs to update their registration with state police. The current law only requires sex offenders to notify authorities if they change jobs.

Sen. Jason Barickman, a Bloomington Republican who co-sponsored the bill, said he thinks those who drafted the original law meant to require registered sex offenders to also report the loss of a job.

He said charges against a sex offender were dismissed in McLean County because of ambiguity over when people had to report a change in employment.

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Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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