A bill has passed the Illinois General Assembly that would ban sex offenders from working at carnivals, amusement parks and the state fair in Illinois.
The soon-to-be law was co-sponsored by State Representative Tom Weber (R-Lake Villa).
Last year, the Illinois State Fair severed its deal with Miller Spectacular Shows, which was in the first year of its 10-year contract with the state to operate rides at the state fairgrounds.
The Department of Agriculture fired the company after it was discovered that they hired a convicted child sex offender to work on a children’s ride at the fairgrounds.
The registered sex offender had been released from jail six months prior.
“Parents and children should feel safe while enjoying themselves at the state fair,” Weber said. “Unfortunately, our laws have not been sufficient enough to keep these kinds of people away from the children.”
Currently, state law only bans registered sex offenders from operating machinery or working on the premises of county fairs but does not mention state fairgrounds or other amusement sites, Weber said.
Senate Bill 3019 makes it illegal for a child sex offender to knowingly, operate, manage, be employed by or be associated with any carnival, amusement enterprise or county or state fair when persons under the age of 18 are present.
“This law will close the loophole that allowed a child sex offender to work a kiddie ride at the state fair last year,” Weber said.
“These people have no business being anywhere near children and unfortunately around children is likely where they would want to be employed. State law and state protocols need to be tougher,” he said.
SB 3019 passed the Illinois Senate unanimously and the Illinois House on a 104-2-5 vote. It now awaits the signature of Gov. JB Pritzker.
Weber cited a case where police recently arrested four Disney employees in a large undercover human trafficking operation in Florida.
One of the employees was attempting to send explicit communications to an underage girl.