Bill to kill sex offender residency restrictions hits a sand bar


Legislative update April 29, 2010

By Chris Dornin, 228-9610

Sex offender residency restrictions look not so dead

Never say never at the New Hampshire Statehouse

The Senate voted April 29 to table HB 1484 banning towns from using residency restrictions against sex offenders. The legislation sailed through the House and seemed like a slam dunk after the Senate Judiciary Committee backed it 5-0 last week. That was a ringing non-partisan vote. But not so fast.

Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, D-Manchester, made the tabling motion, which passed without debate in a unanimous voice vote. Whatever caused that crash of a superb piece of legislation took place outside the Senate chambers away from public scrutiny in a place founded on the principle of open government.

D’Allesandro said afterward some senators had expressed concerns about a related court case. He would have meant the Dover District Court decision last summer striking down the city’s 2,000 foot buffer zone around schools and daycare centers. The city was trying to evict the plaintiff, Richard Jennings, a registered sex offender. The court found the ordinance violated his fundamental property rights even though he was a renter.

Sen. Sheila Roberge, R-Bedford, said the tabling motion came from the Senate Democrats. The Republicans were surprised by it. Sen. Deborah Reynolds, D-Plymouth, chairs the Judiciary Committee and echoed D’Allesandro. Some unnamed people were worried about the bill.

That’s where things stand for now. We don’t know who those people are. I won’t be able to get over to the Statehouse in person again until next week to learn more. Two Democratic sponsors of the bill, Reps. Beth Rodd and Mary Stuart Gile, are trying to find out what happened and let us know what we can do to save the bill. They’ll be talking to Senate Democrats. It’s too soon to speculate further.

What you can do about HB 1484

A simple majority vote of the Senate can still remove a bill from the table. That rescue gets harder near the end of the lawmaking term. The time is now to call, write, email and meet with your senators to urge them to revive and pass this important bill. Just tell them how the bill would affect you. Be sure and let all five-members of the Judiciary Committee hear from you as well. You can find out how to reach your local senator at

Senate Judiciary Committee members

Deborah Reynolds      536-1552     536-8980 ext 10

Sheila Roberge r                  (H) 472-8391          

Robert Letourneau      (O) 271-2118                   

Matthew Houde   271-2104   (H) 504-2744

Bette Lasky d   888-5557     (603)271-2735