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Meeting planned to discuss sexual offenders

Jay Supervisor and Essex County Board Chairman Randy Douglas.

Jay Supervisor and Essex County Board Chairman Randy Douglas. Photo by Daniel E. Alexander.

— While it may be challenging to create a new law restricting where registered sex offenders may live, the Chairman of the Essex County Board of Supervisors still wants to sit down and talk about it.

Jay Supervisor Randy Douglas recently invited leaders from Franklin and Essex counties to a meeting on the topic which will be held Oct. 22, at 10 a.m. in Elizabethtown.

Douglas called it a “brain-storming session.”

“We have decided that we would like to gather together and have a brain-storming session regarding the possibility of a Tri-County local law which would regulate residency and other activities of sexual offenders,” Douglas said.

County Attorney Daniel Manning said that while the brain-storming session was a good idea, he believes a local law will not survive a legal challenge.

“I do not think that the landscape has changed much since 2008,” Manning said. “In Albany and Saratoga counties, the laws have been struck down in court based on pre-emption.”

Manning said that pre-emption means the state law supersedes any county law that may be put in place that is more strict.

“If the state has legislation on the books that deals with a certain subject, the courts will interpret that as the state having taken over that issue,” Manning said. “If we tried to have tougher DWI laws and someone tried to challenge that then they would be overturned because the state has already set some laws on this.”

Manning also said that the Washington County law, which Douglas pointed to during the September Public Safety meeting, had been repealed by the county in 2011.

“They knew that it would not hold up,” he said.

Douglas said that even if no law comes from the meeting, he still wants to hold it.

“All that we have asked is for some public officials between Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties to come together and share information at a meeting on Oct. 22,” Douglas said. “If we cannot make a law that has more teeth in it, we should get the information out there and share ideas on how to make people safe.”

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