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City debates campus enforcement of ordinance


By Scott Harvey

Commerce – The Commerce City Council Tuesday approved a second and final reading of its amended sex offender ordinance, but not without long deliberation over how to enforce the law on the university campus.

The City will seek the Texas Attorney General's opinion on whether there's a statute in place that gives the City enforceability of their ordinance on the university campus.

"I can't find, an expressed preemption in the state statutes," said City Attorney Jim McLeroy. "I can find where the university is granted authority but there's no explicitly in the language."

McLeroy also said he's called several other cities with universities, including Lubbock and Canyon, to see where they stand and hasn't been able to get a clear response regarding enforceability.

Language in the original ordinance included the term "college" and enforcement on campus, whereas the revision approved Tuesday notes only specific areas such as a daycare facility or planetarium that is on campus, as opposed to the entire campus.

There is one student out of the ten registered sex offenders in Commerce. According to the ordinance, that person is not restricted from being present at certain campus locations as long as it's in connection with the attendance of any class, seminar, or educational program.

The amended sex offender ordinance was brought before council following last month's settlement of a more than two-year-old lawsuit that disputed the ordinance's original version.