Wednesday, May 6, 2015

House Minority Leader Brad Jones Secures Budget Amendment Targeting Unpaid Sex Offender Registration Fees

Sex offenders who fail to pay a required registration fee to the state would face additional sanctions under an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2016 House budget filed by House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) and members of the House Republican Caucus.

The House of Representatives approved the amendment on a voice vote on April 29 as part of the proposed $38 billion state budget.

Under current law, sex offenders are assessed a $75 registration fee at the time of their initial registration as a sex offender, and again each and every subsequent year on the anniversary of their registration.  Sex offenders who fail to pay the fee are sent notices and follow-up letters, but the law lacks an enforcement mechanism to ensure that the fees are paid in full.

“The current law falls short of providing appropriate penalties for sex offenders who fail to pay the required registration fee,” said Representative Jones.  “This amendment would add some teeth to the law to help ensure that the Sex Offender Registry Board receives these fees on a timely basis.”

Representative Jones’ amendment would require the Sex Offender Registry Board to notify the Department of Revenue (DOR), the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) and the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) whenever any sex offender registration fee is 60 days past due.  Once these agencies are notified, DOR would be directed to deduct the amount owed by the sex offender from any state tax refunds that might be due to them.

The amendment would also prohibit the RMV from issuing or renewing a sex offender’s driver’s license or motor vehicle registration until the fee has been collected.

The amendment was co-sponsored by the House Republican leadership team, including Representatives Brad Hill of Ipswich, Elizabeth Poirier of North Attleborough, Susan Gifford of Wareham, Paul Frost of Auburn and Todd Smola of Warren.  Additional co-sponsors included Representatives Nicholas Boldyga (R-Southwick), Marc Lombardo (R-Billerica), Sheila Harrington (R-Groton), Shawn Dooley (R-Norfolk), Kimberly Ferguson (R-Holden), Leah Cole (R-Peabody) and Steven Howitt (R-Seekonk).

The state Senate is expected to release and debate its own version of the budget in May.  A six-member conference committee will then work to resolve the differences between the two branches’ spending proposals and produce a final budget that will be sent to Governor Baker for his signature.