Lawmakers demand release of bills on sex offenders, spousal rape

PHOENIX – Supporters of tougher legislation on sex offenders and spousal rape are demanding that a Senate committee chairman release two House-passed bills.

The sponsors noted Monday that each measure has enjoyed strong support from fellow legislators, but both are being held in the Senate Rules Committee by its chairman, Sen.

Robert Blendu, R-Litchfield Park.

"Let these bills go," said Rep.

Deb Gullett, a Phoenix Republican who is chief sponsor of the sex offender bill (HB2418).

The measure would use the state slumlord law to prevent clusters of sex offenders on probation from living in one place.

Under the bill, registered sex offenders could not account for more than three – or 10 percent – of the tenants at a property unless it is an area zoned for industrial use.

The spousal rape bill (HB2304) would increase the presumptive sentence for a first offense to 2-1/2 years from one year, though current law allows judges to classify first offenses as misdemeanors punishable by up to six months in jail.

Blendu said he held both bills because they contain flaws.

The offender bill has legal problems that would make it the subject of years of litigation, he said.

The rape bill would still allow spousal rapes to have a lesser punishment than other rapes, Blendu said.

Rep.

Clancy Jayne said he was giving Blendu one last chance before using procedural means to force the rape bill out of the Rules Committee.

"This bill needs to be heard," said Jayne, a Phoenix Republican who sponsored the rape legislation.

Teen Drivers

The House on Monday gave preliminary approval to a watered-down bill regulating teen drivers, signaling an attempt to restore tougher provisions that previously fizzled.

The latest version of the bill (SB1325) awaits a formal House vote.Passage would send it to the Senate, where an earlier version died without a committee hearing.

The bill would increase the supervised behind-the-wheel training teens must get if they don't pass a driver's education program from 25 hours to 50 hours.

It also would allow teens to apply for G beginner licenses when they become 15 years and six months old, down from 15 years and seven months.

Amendments to restore restrictions on hours that teens could drive and limit their passengers were not proposed Monday as had been expected.

Sex Offenders

The Senate on Monday unanimously approved a bill to increase community notification for intermediate-risk sex offenders.

The bill (HB2602) generally would subject intermediate-risk offenders to the provisions already required for high-risk ones.

Those include notices to neighborhoods, schools, community groups and prospective employers.

The notices include a photograph, address and status and criminal background.