Lawmakers in the House have passed an urgency measure to hasten a bill to require community notification when a sex offender moves into a halfway house.
The motion passed with near-unanimous support on Monday, easily garnering the two-thirds majority needed to suspend the rules. Current state law does not require any kind of neighborhood notification when a sex offender from the Minnesota Sex Offender program is released to a halfway house. Gov. Mark Dayton has said he will work with Republicans to pass the bill, which would require local law enforcement to notify the community.
The move follows a series of contentious exchanges between Dayton and GOP leaders of the House over the release of Clarence Opheim, a 64-year-old sex offender who has spent nearly the last two decades in the Minnesota Sex Offender program. Ramsey County judges recently ruled to provisionally release Opheim to a St. Paul halfway house.
Opheim has confessed to 100 acts of criminal sexual violence with dozens of children. House Speaker Kurt Zellers and Majority Leader Matt Dean immediately criticized Dayton and Department of Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson for Ophiem’s release. Dayton defended Jesson’s move, saying the state will run into legal troubles if it does not start releasing offenders who have undergone treatment. He criticized the leaders for not pursuing a legislative solution.