Looking to level the playing field: Lawmakers debate restrictions for sex offenders

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- They're on two different sides of the political aisle but there's a pressing issue in Wisconsin bringing two lawmakers together. And that is residency restrictions for sex offenders.

In Milwaukee, sex offenders can no longer live withing 2,000 feet of schools, parks or other places where kids congregate. Other cities have less restrictive, or more restrictive ordinances.

These lawmakers are looking to level the playing field.

"When it comes to protecting children from child sex predators the're no such thing as partisan politics," said State Representative, Joel Kleefisch.

A seemingly unlikely alliance has formed between Milwaukee Mayor, Tom Barrett, and Oconomowoc Representative, Joel Kleefisch.

"I think people are surprised when you see this environment to see a democrat and republican working together," said Mayor Barrett.

Both politicians are looking to pass a uniform statewide sex offender residency law.

"I'm glad we're gonna have the  support of the mayor, support of Milwaukee democrats, the support of Milwaukee republicans. Governor Walker and I met this morning and he said he strongly supports this," said Kleefisch.

Kleefisch tried to pass a similar bill in 2005. Since then, Wisconsin communities have been passing their own ordinances with varying restrictions.

Earlier this year, Milwaukee lawmakers said their city was becoming a dumping ground for outside sex offenders -- and passed their own ordinance severely limiting where sex offenders can live.

"What you have are these communities are really competing against each other that's why we need a statewide solution," said Mayor Barrett.

"A blanket ordinance, a blanket statute would not fix the problem," said Franklin Mayor, Steve Olson.

Mayor  Steve Olson is against a statewide residency law, saying each community is different and has its own individual needs.

"The whole key to this is to have all the communities enact what we've enacted and we pioneered, the concept that we'll take to our own, just not anybody else's," said Mayor Olson.

Kleefisch says they're starting off with a residency restriction of 1,000 feet from places that kids gather. But he says that distance may be increased.

Kleefisch is confident a bill will pass.