New England Cable News is shining a light on the huge problem surrounding unpaid sex offender registration fees in Massachusetts, two months after the House Republican Caucus secured a budget amendment designed to put some teeth into the law.
Currently, sex offenders are assessed an annual $75 registration fee, beginning at the time of their initial registration, but the state does little more than send a reminder and follow-up letter to those individuals who fail to pay the fee. Due to the lack of proper enforcement, since 2012 the state has collected less than half of the $2.3 million in fees assessed during this time period.
The budget amendment – filed by House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) – would provide for meaningful sanctions by requiring 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 registration fee is 60 days past due. DOR would then be allowed to deduct the amount owed by the sex offender from any state tax refunds that might be due to them, while the RMV would be prohibited 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 (R-Ipswich), Elizabeth Poirier (R-North Attleboro), Susan Gifford (R-Wareham), Paul Frost (R-Auburn) and Todd Smola (R-Warren). Additional co-sponsors include 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).
Be sure to check out Representative Jones’ interview with NECN’s Ally Donnelly on the video link posted below.