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New Texas law allows smaller cities say where sex offenders live

Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law a bill that allows smaller Texas cities to restrict where convicted sex offenders may live. 

House Bill 1111 included the language of Senate Bill 76, proposed by Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, as an amendment. The bill authorized small cities to enforce sex offender residency restrictions around schools, day cares and parks as "child safety zones." 

In March 2007, when Abbott was the state's attorney general, he issued an opinion that state law did not give smaller cities the authority for such ordinances.  Most of Texas' 800 smaller cities are general law cities and can only write ordinances expressly allowed by the state. Most of the state's larger cities have home rule charters, and thus have the authority to restrict residency. Several Texas cities, inluding Krum, lost early court battles over their restrictions. 

Whether the new law withstands legal challenges remains to be seen. Two years ago, a report by the U.S. Justice Department found that residency restrictions did little to improve public safety.