State cost analysis suggests scaling back Chelsea's Law - San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

State cost analysis suggests scaling back Chelsea's Law

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(CBS 8) - Chelsea's Law will cost tens of millions of dollars in the short run, and hundreds of millions of dollars in the long run, according to a state assembly cost analysis obtained by News 8. As a result, lawmakers will now decide if the bill should be scaled back.

Chelsea's Law currently is in the hands of the state assembly appropriations committee in Sacramento, and lawmakers are already suggesting changes to reduce costs.

The parents of murdered teenager Chelsea King are not expected to attend Wednesday's procedural vote before the appropriations committee. Wednesday's vote will hold the bill in committee until another vote is taken next week.

San Diego Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher is sponsoring the bill.

"Public safety is the highest priority and it ought to be the first thing we fund. We have enough money to protect our children," Fletcher said.

An assembly cost analysis obtained by News 8 says in the long run, Chelsea's Law will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, including money to build new prisons to house violent sex offenders sentenced to life without parole. Thousands of sex offenders would also be sentenced to lifetime parole and GPS tracking under the law at a cost of tens of millions of dollars.

"The state last year spent $45 million on new desks and new cars for state workers, so I think the state has enough money to pay for this," Fletcher said.

The report, written by state assembly appropriations committee staff members, suggests Chelsea's Law could be scaled back to save money. The suggested amendments to the bill include eliminating the lifetime parole and GPS requirements for non-violent, lewd acts on a child under age 14; deleting life sentences for continuous abuse of a child resulting in injuries; and requiring a prison population decrease to offset all cost increases associated with Chelsea's Law.

"I'm committed to try and find reforms, but we're not going to try and find poison pills that are designed to tie the bill to something else that gets defeated so it never gets implemented," Fletcher said.

In addition, the report suggests only offenders whose victims were children should be prohibited from gathering in parks, not all sex offenders.

The state assembly appropriations committee will cast its final vote May 26 on Chelsea's Law. If the bill passes committee, it then goes on to a vote in the full assembly, followed by committee votes in the state senate.

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