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Friday, February 21, 2014

Metro Atlanta lawmaker lambasted for anti-loitering bill that would allow registered sex offenders near schools

A metro Atlanta GOP legislator who introduced a proposal to end the state's loitering crimes - and ease restrictions on registered sex offenders - has been scolded by members of his own party inside the Gold Dome.

State Rep. Sam Moore, R-Macedonia, who assumed office in early February, was fiercely attacked by fellow GOP lawmakers after he introduced a bill to put an end to state loitering laws and allow registered sex offenders to visit schools and playgrounds. The Cherokee Tribune reports:

"I am OK with that," Moore said Thursday, adding that he meant only those who were off parole and not barred from those places. "The reason I'm OK with that is the assumption is they have done their time. If they're still a danger to society, they should not be free. ... Am I saying it's not creepy? It's definitely creepy."

Moore is the sole signer on House Bill 1033, which also prohibits law enforcement officers from forcing residents to identify themselves under any circumstances. Moore said that is a practice that violates Fifth Amendment rights to silence and was the original intent of the bill.

Moore might have started with decent intentions, but things quickly went awry with his bill. House GOP leaders were hardly afraid to lash out against the freshman Cherokee County lawmaker's measure this morning. House Majority Leader Larry O'Neal, House Rules Committee Chairman John Meadows, and other reps strongly denounced Moore's bill.

The AJC's Aaron Gould Sheinin, who sat behind Moore as he faced attacks from the well, wrote:

But it was HB 1033 and Moore himself that the Cherokee County's Republican colleagues blasted.

"I am shocked and appalled anyone would suggest that pedophiles should be allowed to loiter near day care centers, schools - the places where our children learn and play," Rep. John Pezold, R-Fortson, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "If Mr. Moore's mission was to come down to the state Capitol and alienate his colleagues by staking out positions that no one in their right mind could agree with, he can now hang a 'Mission Accomplished' banner behind him because he has done just that."

The anti-loitering bill isn't the only controversial bill Moore has proposed during his short time in office. He's also pushing proposals to outlaw the Affordable Care Act and to allow people to shoot police officers who try to enter their homes without properly knocking and identifying themselves.

Meanwhile, today's backlash has quickly earned him an opponent in May's GOP primary. Georgia Democrats are also trying to take advantage of Moore's apparent extremism. In a statement, Democratic Party of Georgia Chair DuBose Porter said: "This is what the Georgia Republican Party has come to. And this is why they're in trouble."

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