We enjoy the rural lifestyle or we would live in the cities. Unfortunately there is a difference in the lawmaking abilities between the larger cities and the rural ones. Home rule cities by definition are larger than 5000 people and have broad ability to make laws that their citizens want. General law cities are less than 5000 people and do not have the right to make ordinances that are not granted by the State of Texas through the Legislature. House Bill 384 has been filed by Representative Stuart Spitzer to help smaller cities have the same ability to govern convicted sex offenders that the Home Rule cities have.
There is a registered sex offender who was recently released after serving a 10 year sentence for an offense against a 5 year old. He moved across the street from Eustace Schools highlighting the need for this ordinance. Several years ago, the Mayor of Eustace, Elicia Sanders, along with the City Council passed an ordinance to limit registered sex offenders living in Eustace by imposing Child Safety Zones. The ordinance was denied by the State of Texas because Eustace, being a General Law city did not have statutory ability to pass the ordinance. The Commissioners Court of Henderson County voted unanimously to support Representative Spitzer’s bill and the Kaufman County Commissioners Court will vote on a resolution at their next meeting. “Frankly, I was surprised to find out how little discretion rural cities have in dealing with events and people within their city limits.”
House Bill 384 would grant general law cities the ability (but not require them) to limit convicted sex offenders from living within 1000 feet of schools and other places children congregate. “rural citizens and children should have the same rights as those in larger communities. The citizens expect and their local elected officials want to protect their children. House Bill 384 allows this.”