SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- A southwest Missouri lawmaker has proposed a solution to protect children from sexual predators in their neighborhoods.
House Bill 146 would require registered sex offenders to tell realtors about their criminal record when buying a house. In turn, it would require realtors to tell neighbors. Some folks think the bill would keep children safe, but realtors believe the law is not as simple as it sounds.
Homeowner Alesa Jackson said she has lots of children in her neighborhood.
"We have the Boys & Girls Club on Fremont... We have Weller Elementary just a couple of blocks over and we also have Smith Park."
Jackson said the neighbors here look out for each other especially when someone unknown comes through or moves in.
"If they are a sex offender, yes, I would be very concerned about that."
Jackson said the proposals in Missouri House Bill 146 are a good idea, requiring registered sex offenders to notify realtors of their offense and in turn requiring realtors to notify the seller and every neighbor in a half mile about their new neighbor. Jackson said too many times neighbors only know after a child has been victimized or a crime has been committed.
"Everyone deserves to know. They have the right to know who is living in the neighborhood."
"We are sympathetic to the ideas," said Cass Williams with the Greater Springfield Board of Realtors. Williams knows realtors want neighborhoods to be safe, but most realtors are doubtful about the sex offender self reporting.
"I think there is a great deal of skepticism about whether or not that would ever happen."
And in a county like Greene with 649 registered sex offenders, Williams said keeping track of offenders is better left to law enforcement.
"Legislation itself is too flawed, too burdensome and puts way too much liability on agents."
Williams also said the notification is problematic. How would realtors distinguish property owner versus property occupant or resident and then prove that they were notified? Still, Jackson said, the law would help neighborhoods.
"I think it's a good protection for everyone."
The lawmaker from Webb City who introduced the bill, said after talking to realtors and law enforcement he thinks this may be a problem better solved by community involvment. He has now actually asked for the bill not to move forward, as he believes there are constitutional issues with his proposed law.