A key state Senate panel voted Tuesday to have Nevada join more than a dozen other states that have enacted restrictions on where convicted sex offenders are allowed to live once released from prison.
The Judiciary Committee voted unanimously for SB232, sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas, after inserting several amendments.
As amended, the bill will not allow certain sex offenders to reside within 1,000 feet of any location designed primarily for use by children, including schools, parks, playgrounds and arcades. Regardless of where they live, offenders must stay 500 feet away from such facilities at all times.
The bill would only affect "tier three" offenders, who have committed serious crimes against children. Affected offenders who live within the 1,000-foot perimeter would have to move at their own expense.
Lawmakers cut the mandated distance down from the 2,000 feet in the original bill. They also deleted a section that would have prevented accused sex offenders from pleading "no contest." Prosecuting attorneys said that mandate would prevent them from cutting deals that are sometimes necessary when victims are reluctant to testify.
Without distance requirements, "our state is a haven to these predators," said Sen. Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas. "Nevada has to get something on the record that says we are for safe neighborhoods and not sexual predators."
The committee also voted 6-1 for SB277, which would expand a Clark County pilot program for DUI courts. Under that program, third-time DUI offenders can avoid prison time and a felony record by submitting to house arrest and an intensive treatment program.
Judiciary members also voted 6-1 for SB132, which would give landowners immunity from certain lawsuits brought by recreational trail users.
Committee members voted unanimously for SB298, a bill sponsored by Sen. Warren Hardy, R-Las Vegas, that would make someone who kills or injures another person's pet liable for up to $5,000 in economic damages such as veterinarian bills or burial expenses.