(Springfield, IL) – February 18, 2010. The Illinois House yesterday overwhelming approved legislation that would ban child sex offenders from working at local municipal fairs.
The bill, House Bill 4675, sponsored by State Rep. Carol Sente (D-Vernon Hills), zoomed through the House, 90-16-6, with bipartisan support. However, the opposition, tiny as it was, was bipartisan, too.
Opponents, for example, included liberal lawmakers such as House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago), State Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) and State Rep. John Fritchey (D-Chicago) and conservatives such as House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) and Ron Stephens (R-Greenville).
Harris said he opposed the measure “[b]ecause of overly broad drafting and imprecise language and definitions that would be difficult to enforce and possibly unconstitutionally vague”
Fritchey expressed similar concerns. “It’s poorly drafted, unlikely to accomplish its intended goal, and unlikely to hold up in court.”
House Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang (D-Skokie), who voted for the bill, said:
“Some voted no because they have had enough of criminalizing everything a sex offender does after they have paid a debt to society, even breathing. Some voted no because they felt the bill was vague. I voted yes because, even though I agree with all of the above, on balance the bill seemed reasonable.”
The legislation prohibits a child sex offender from managing, being employed or even being “associated” with any local fair operated by a municipality when children under 18 are present. And it seems to have more than “kiddie rides” in mind, because it also includes fairs in which “goods” are traded or displayed, such as art fairs, antique fairs, farm equipment fairs, etc.
Sente’s legislation faces an uncertain future if it reaches Governor Pat Quinn‘s desk. The Governor’s office issued the following statement on the bill: “If and when the legislation arrives on the Governor’s desk, he will review it.”
In addition to Sente, House sponsors include: Eddie Lee Jackson, Linda Chapa LaVia, Naomi Jakobsson, Arthur Turner, Cynthia Soto, Will Davis, Marlow Colvin, André Thapedi, Michael Zalewski, Deborah Mell, Daniel Beiser, Esther Golar, Jack McGuire, Jack Franks and Keith Farnham–all Democrats.
The legislation now moves to the Senate for consideration.