Dayton signs sex offender notification bill

By Danielle Nordine

Sex offenders released from a state treatment program will be subject of community notification immediately.

Gov. Mark Dayton signed a bill plugging what some called a loophole in state law.

He signed the bill hours after the Senate approved a bill Thursday that would require community notification when a sex offender is released from the state treatment program to a halfway house.

The measure passed 61-0 in the Senate after passing 127-1 Monday in the House.

The bill came in response to the expected release of a 64-year-old man who confessed to sexually molesting 29 youths.

The House and Senate bypassed typical rules to quickly move the bill through the Legislature. Representatives originally were told the offender could be released this week, but the Human Services Department, which runs the program, now has confirmed the earliest he could leave is March 12.

Currently, the public must be notified when an offender is released from prison, but there is no notification requirement for those leaving the state program.

Clarence Opheim will be the first to be discharged from the treatment program.

Sen. Tony Lourey, DFL-Kerrick, voted for the bill but, like some others, questioned the process. He said he would have appreciated more time to discuss the bill in committees and have questions answered.

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