House Speaker Rusty Bowers is taking another shot at passing legislation making it easier for some people to get their names off the state’s sex offender registry.
House Bill 2674 would give some relatively low-level offenders an opportunity to end their lifetime obligation to register as sex offenders. People convicted of crimes including sexual abuse of a minor who is at least 15 years old, indecent exposure, sexual exploitation of a minor, sexual extortion and misrepresenting a person’s age for purposes of committing a sexual offense would be able to petition a judge to end their registration requirement.
There are fairly narrow criteria offenders would have to meet in order to qualify. They must be at least 35 years old to petition a judge. They must not have had any additional offenses for at least 10 years, and cannot have been convicted of more than one offense involving more than one victim. State law already requires offenders who are eligible to end their registration obligation to have been under 22 years old at the time of the offense, and victims must have been at least 15.
“It’s good policy for youthful offenders, been clean for a long time, done everything they’re supposed to do. I’d like to give them a life,” said Bowers, a Republican from Mesa.
Bowers sponsored an identical bill in 2019 with the support of then-Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. That bill passed easily out of the House of Representatives and seemed likely to sail through the Senate as well, but became collateral damage as several GOP senators, led by Sen. Paul Boyer, defeated it in protest over legislative leaders blocking Boyer’s bill to give victims of childhood sexual abuse more time to sue their abusers and the organizations that sheltered them.
With two years passed and Boyer’s bill enshrined in law, Bowers decided to revive his old proposal, which he noted had plenty of support in 2019, when the House passed it 56-4.
“It still needs to be done and I think it’s good policy,” the speaker said.