TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Texas District 1 Senator Bryan Hughes joined us on East Texas Now to discuss two bills he has introduced to legislators in Austin, including one that deals with limiting where sex offenders can live.
State Bill 441 deals with the authority of a county to restrict sex offenders from child safety zones in the unincorporated area of any Texas county.
“When folks in those situations are paroled and not in jail anymore, there are rules about where they can live, for obvious reasons, in areas where they’re not supposed to go because of the presence of small children,” Hughes said.
He said that the idea came to him from Wood County DA Angela Albers.
“This came from a district attorney who said, ‘this is a real problem in our unincorporated areas,’ they don’t have this authority,” he said.
The places that sex offenders would be unable to live is the same as it is inside the boundaries of most cities.
“Obviously most daycare centers, most schools are going to be in those incorporated areas. But as we know, where we live, many are not. Many are outside the city limits. So that’s what this is about. Just trying to get the law to catch up.”
He added that the bill doesn’t allow counties to limit where citizens can build or anything of that nature.
“We are not giving counties broad authority to zone, limit what you can build, or where you can build. This is only about sex offenders and regulations about protecting children,” he said.
Angela Albers, Wood County DA: “A constituent out in the county actually where my children go to school brought it to my attention and wanted to know what could be done about this. So I started looking into it and then realized that really nothing could be done in the unincorporated areas of the county as far as where sex offenders reside in regards to the distance to schools.”
The issue is important for counties, Albers has said, because city jurisdiction reaches out no more than a mile.
“The specific location that my children’s school is in would not be covered by any city jurisdiction. So it’s up to the county. And we found that the county commissioners do not have any authority to pass any rules without the legislature first giving them that authority,” Albers said.