CASPER, Wyo. — The Wyoming Senate passed House Bill 68 on third reading during their Monday, March 9. The bill aims to require registered sex offenders to receive permission from school principals before accessing school facilities to attend their own children’s events.
The Senate passed the bill on a vote of 28-2 on third reading:
Ayes: AGAR, ANDERSON, ANSELMI-DALTON, BALDWIN, BITEMAN, BONER, BOUCHARD, COE, DOCKSTADER, DRISKILL, ELLIS, GIERAU, HICKS, HUTCHINGS, JAMES, KINSKEY, KOST, LANDEN, MONIZ, NETHERCOTT, PAPPAS, PERKINS, ROTHFUSS, SCHULER, SCOTT, STEINMETZ, VON FLATERN, WASSERBURGERWyoming Legislative Service Office
Nays: BEBOUT, CASE
As the bill moved through the Senate, no amendments were adopted different from the version passed by the House of Representatives. Since both chambers have passed the same version of the bill, it is now ready to move to Governor Mark Gordon’s desk for consideration.
While the Senate did not amend the bill, the House added amendments. In effect, the current version of the bill would add one new restriction for registered sex offenders under Wyoming law.
Under current law, registered sex offenders can access school grounds without obtaining permission from school principals if they are doing so to attend their own children’s academic conferences or other extracurricular activities.
If the bill becomes law, they would need to first obtain written permission from school principals or vice principals prior to accessing school grounds to attend their children’s events.
Registered sex offenders would still be allowed to access school grounds to drop off or pick up their own children without permission from principals under the bill that Gordon will consider.
Senate District 23 Senator Jeff Wasserburger, who says he served as a school principal for 14 years, explained the bill to the Senate ahead of their first reading vote on Thursday, March 5.
“For many years I served as a building principal,” he said. “There were situations that were very difficult to deal with.”
Wasserburger said that registered sex offenders with children attending a school should require written permission from principals to attend such events, noting that this requirement was not in place during his time as a principal.
“I got caught in this situation two separate times in 14 years,” he said. “Both of those times I didn’t have the opportunity to approve. In one case, the registered sex offender was not a risk to my school or to my students.”
Wasserburger said that in the other situation, he was “not so sure that was the case.”
Under current Wyoming law, people who are registered sex offenders are barred from entering school facilities or loitering within 1,000 feet of school grounds unless the registered sex offender:
- (i) Is a student in attendance at the school;
- (ii) Is attending an academic conference or other scheduled extracurricular school event with school officials present when the registered offender is a parent or legal guardian of a child who is participating in the conference or extracurricular event;
- (iii) Resides at a state licensed or certified facility for incarceration, health or convalescent care that is within one thousand (1,000) feet from the property on which a school is located;
- (iv) Is dropping off or picking up a child and the registered offender is the child’s parent or legal guardian;
- (v) Is temporarily on school grounds during school hours for the purpose of making a mail, food or other delivery;
- (vi) Is exercising his right to vote in a public election;
- (vii) Is taking delivery of his mail through an official post office located on school grounds;
- (viii) Has written permission from the school principal, vice-principal, or person with equivalent authority, to be on the school grounds or upon other property that is used by a school; or
- (ix) Stays at a homeless shelter or resides at a recovery facility that is within one thousand (1,000) feet from the property on which a school is located if such shelter or facility has been approved for sex offenders by the sheriff or police chief.
This article includes perspectives which point out that people are required to register as sex offenders for a variety of convictions which don’t necessarily indicate these people are a danger to children and also discusses the legislature’s discussion of the bill in greater detail.
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