A bill to post data on the Internet about released sex offenders was signed by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Los Angeles Times called it “a preelection gift to one of the most vulnerable Democrats in the Legislature.” The Times said the move to approve the bill coauthored by Assemblywoman Nicole Parra was another Schwarzenegger decision “with little apparent concern for the political consequences in the November elections.” Schwarzenegger signed a ban on the sale of .50-caliber guns, to the dismay of gun groups that are traditionally enthusiastic Republicans.
The sex offender bill has been embroiled in election politics. Although California was the first to create a sex offender registry back in 1947 to help police, it has lagged behind more than 30 states in making the information widely available to the public. Since 1996, the information has been available through law enforcement officials and a toll-free number – methods that critics said made it hard to use. The new law requires the state to post on the Internet by next July the names, photographs, and relevant criminal history of sex offenders. Schwarzenegger signed the bill even as he agreed with many Republican lawmakers who objected that it did not put enough information on the Internet.