By Michael Gorsegner
HARRISBURG - Changes could be coming to the Megan's Law registry in Pennsylvania. State legislators are looking to close a couple of loopholes in the law to make sure everyone is accounted for.
Both the House and Senate are coming back in to session over the next week. When the Senate comes back, they will have a chance to look at some legislation that would close two loopholes in the Megan's Law registry. They are loopholes that leave a segment of convicted offenders off the list.
Keeping everyone informed, that is the goal of the Megan's Law registry. The law requires convicted sex offenders to register their names in a state database. Now, legislators want to make sure the list is complete and accurate.
"You need to make these things very easy for access by moms, dads, and grandparents, so they know what is going on in their communities," said Representative Stan Saylor, (R) York County after a hearing on this issue on August 17.
Two improvements that could be on the horizon includes closing some loopholes that make the list incomplete. First, House Bill 1926, which has already passed the House and is awaiting Senate consideration, would require homeless sex offenders to register with state police. The proposal is for offenders to check in, in person on a weekly basis, until they find a permanent residence. They would also have to register the areas they frequent most. Right now, the law doesn't account for this group.
"Megan's Law is set up to track them. If they're homeless, you can't track them," said Shari Bellish of Carlisle CARES during a July interview about this subject.
The second loophole legislators are looking to close is the out-of-state requirement. As it stands now, convicted offenders from other states are not required to register on the Pennsylvania list. If the new legislation is passed, out-of-staters would need to check-in with Pennsylvania State Police once a year for ten years, if a convicted sex offender, or four times a year for life if they are deemed a violent sexual predator.
The legislation passed the House unanimously during the summer time. Now, the Senate will have to consider the changes. No timetable has been set for when that might happen. If the Senate passes the measure, it would go the Governor's desk for his signature.