Andrea Kieffer, the House District 53B representative, says it looks as though her legislation to increase penalties for repeat sex offenders may be rolled into a larger public safety bill.
“Which is very disappointing,” said Kieffer, of Woodbury, serving her second term in the state House.
The bill has bipartisan support, she said, and the fear is that having it included in an omnibus bill could result in lawmakers voting along party lines, rather than supporting it on its own.
Kieffer, a Republican, championed a similar bill during the last legislative session and wants to see it as a stand-alone bill in 2013. The legislation was recently heard in the House Public Safety Committee.
Critics point to additional costs for keeping such perpetrators in jail, Kieffer said, but if enacted it would give prosecutors an extra tool when dealing with fifth-degree sex offenders.
Currently, “They get a slap on the wrist and it doesn’t really mean anything,” Kieffer said.
According to a House Research summary:
“This bill expands the felony 5th degree criminal sexual conduct offense. Under the bill, a person who engages in either nonconsensual sexual contact with another person or who engages in masturbation or lewd exhibition of the genitals in front of a minor under the age of 16 may be sentenced to up to five years in prison if the person has a qualifying prior offense. The list of qualifying prior offenses is: (1) criminal sexual conduct 1-5 (§§ 609.242 to 609.3451); (2) criminal sexual predatory conduct (§ 609.3453); (3) solicitation of a child (§ 609.52); (4) indecent exposure (§ 617.23); (5) use of a child in a sexual performance (§ 617.246); (5) child pornography (§ 617.247); or (6) a similar qualifying offense from another state.”