The Senate Public Safety Committee today approved Senate Bill 26 with the promise that it would be further amended. The approval came despite the testimony of more than 40 people, including registrants and family members, who spoke in opposition to the bill.
As currently written, Senate Bill 26 would require all registrants who are parents to be supervised by a school official while visiting a school campus for any reason including parent-teacher night, athletic events and graduation. In addition, individuals convicted of 10 offenses, including some misdemeanors, would be permanently prohibited from school campuses. Further, registrants who are not parents would be limited to conducting business on school campuses to times when children are not present.
Committee chair Senator Nancy Skinner was 1 of 5 members who voted in support of the bill although she cautioned that the bill would not protect children from those most likely to harm them — family members, teachers, coaches and clergy. Committee member Senator Scott Wiener abstained from voting on the bill after he described the registry as “broken” and a system that “undermines public safety.”
“I am very proud of the 39 ACSOL members who spoke in opposition to the bill today,” stated ACSOL Executive Director Janice Bellucci. “Although the bill was passed today, there will be many more opportunities to stop it from becoming law.”
In addition to the 39 ACSOL members who spoke in opposition to the bill, a representative from Root & Rebound as well as ACSOL spoke in opposition to the bill.
During her testimony, Bellucci stated that children of registrants would be harmed by the bill because they would not have parental support for their academic and athletic activities. She noted that the National Education Association has determined that children who lack parental support are less likely to graduate from high school, will have lower grades and won’t attend college.
Senate Bill 26 will next be considered by the Senate Appropriations Committee, which is expected to happen in May. If the bill is approved by that committee, the bill would be voted upon on the Senate floor.
During her testimony, the bill’s author, Senator Leyva acknowledged that the “registry is absolutely broken” and stated that she supports the Tiered Registry Bill (SB 421). She also acknowledged that children are not often harmed by strangers while on school campuses. In closing, Senator Leyva said that SB 26 would prevent strangers from grooming future victims.