(Host) The Legislature is heading towards adjournment on Thursday night and a number of key bills were adopted on this final day of the session.
VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.
(Kinzel) Both the House and the Senate gave their strong approval to legislation creating an Internet Sex Offenders Registry. The bill puts information about people convicted of serious sex crimes on the Internet. That information will include the person’s name, their town of residence and the crimes that they’ve been convicted of. The bill also strengthens community notification policies for local law enforcement agencies.
Hartford Representative Michael Kainen says the bill tries to balance the rights of the person convicted of aggravated sexual assault with the desire to provide additional safety measures for all communities:
(Kainen) “We think that this is an appropriate balance. We think that the conference committee report which puts these people on the Internet is an appropriate one. This has been a difficult bill and this section surrounding the Internet has probably been the most controversial and emotionally charged.”
(Kinzel) Legislation creating a new crime of identity theft was also adopted in both chambers. Senate Judiciary chairman Dick Sears says identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in Vermont. It happens when a thief is able to obtain important information about a person like their social security number and then uses this information to take out new credit cards, often using the card to its maximum limit.
The victim learns about the theft when the credit card company sends a bill seeking compensation for the charges to the account. Sears says the bill is needed because Vermont doesn’t have a specific law in place dealing with this issue:
(Sears) “It does provide for a security freeze to your credit report if you have been or believe you’re a victim of identity theft. And it does move us a step towards eliminating the use of those social security numbers which are so frequently used to commit the crime of identity theft. I think it’s one of the most important bills we’ve passed this year.”
(Kinzel) Sears says the new identity theft bill will be one of the strongest in the country when the governor signs the measure into law.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.