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Minnesota Legislature

Offender Web site use reconsidered

Published (3/6/2009)
By Mike Cook
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A bill to prohibit sexual predators access to certain computer sites cleared a House committee that defeated it five days earlier.

Sponsored by Rep. Karla Bigham (DFL-Cottage Grove), HF130 would prohibit predators from using social networking sites, like Facebook and MySpace. Offenders would also be prohibited from using instant messaging or chat room Internet sites, even when playing an online game.

Ten members of the House Civil Justice Committee voted yes March 2, with Rep. Joe Mullery (DFL-Mpls), the committee chairman, abstaining. The committee defeated the measure on a 6-6 vote Feb. 25. It now returns to the House Public Safety Policy and Oversight Committee, which gave its approval Feb. 10.

Bigham did not offer any changes to the bill before Rep. Michael Paymar (DFL-St. Paul) moved to reconsider the previous vote.

Both Bigham and Paymar later said the reconsideration came after Bigham further discussed, and clarified, concerns previously made by then-bill opponents. For example, Paymar said he didn’t initially fully understand all the aspects related to online gaming, but felt more comfortable after speaking with Bigham.

Awaiting action by the Senate Judiciary Committee is the bill’s companion, SF403, sponsored by Sen. Mee Moua (DFL-St. Paul).

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