AUSTIN — Forty-six general law cities in the State of Texas received a threat of a lawsuit if they did not repeal their sex offender residency restrictions, states Maypearl Mayor Adele Mooney.
The threat of legal action has Mooney, along with Mayor Elicia Sanders of Eustace and Mayor Charles Jessup of Meadows Place, scheduled to testify before the Texas House Urban Affairs Committee Tuesday at the Texas State Capitol Building during the 85th Texas Legislative session. According to a City of Maypearl press release, the potential lawsuit is in regards to legislation proposed by Rep. Jim Murphy, R-Houston, that would give Type A general law cities the specific authority to restrict how close to schools, daycares and other places children gather that a sex offender can live.
The three mayors will testify at the invitation of the Texas Municipal League’s general counsel, Scott Houston, and Rep. Murphy’s committee.
"A group called 'Texas Voices for Reason and Justice,' who threatened the lawsuit is basing their premise on a 2007 Attorney General Opinion [that was] written by then-AG Greg Abbott," Mooney stated in her release. She noted the opinion stated, “Unless the legislature expressly authorizes it, a general-law municipality may not adopt an ordinance restricting where a registered sex offender may live.”
"Abbott’s opinion also said larger cities fall under 'home rule,' which means they have a constitutional right of self-government," Mooney added. "By not addressing the issue legislatively, the state is declaring that a small town doesn’t have the right to have an ordinance to protect its children and residents, but larger cities do."
According to the release, Mooney intends to testify that the potential lawsuit filed by Texas Voices for Reason and Justice would put Type A cities and their city councils “between a rock and a hard place.” She added that, if successful, the potential lawsuits would either "repeal an ordinance that their citizens do not want to be repealed" or force those cities to "potentially fight a legal battle for which there is typically no budget."
"The TML Intergovernmental Risk Pool cannot take up the fight for the small cities since the lawsuit only demands a repeal of the ordinance or ordinances and does not request any monetary damages," the mayor added.
According to Mooney, there are currently no registered sex offenders living in Maypearl.