Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Senate Dems Reverse Course, Pass GOP Sex Offender Bill

Just days after effectively gutting in committee a bill, SB 205, to strengthen West Virginia's sex offender laws, the Senate reversed course today and adopted a tougher measure proposed by Senate Republicans. On a 28-5 vote, the Senate substituted the language of SB 276, the Protect Our Children Act, into SB 205.

Senators Billy Wayne Bailey, D-Wyoming; Dan Foster and Brooks McCabe, both D-Kanawha; Jon Blair Hunter, D-Monongalia; and Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, voted against the Sprouse amendment. Following the vote on the Sprouse amendment, the Senate unanimously passed SB 205 as amended.

This bill now goes to the House of Delegates, where a bill (HB 4039) identical to the original version of SB 205 died this week after being recommitted to the House Finance Committee following the committee's reporting of the bill with no recommendation.

Today's action marks only a beginning, as there are still 10 days left in this legislative session and plenty of opportunities to either make additional improvements to this bill or undermine it as it passes through the House of Delegates.