The new state law, which the governor signed on May 23, defines as a child-oriented business as “any business whose primary service includes the education, care, or entertainment of children including, but not limited to: a school, daycare center, children’s recreational facility, arcade, trampoline park, amusement park, public playground, or mobile food delivery whose primary business is the sale or delivery of ice cream or candy to children.”
Under the law, certain offenders cannot operate, be employed by or do volunteer work at those businesses. This applies to offenders convicted of first- or second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor, assault with intent to commit criminal sexual conduct with a minor, kidnapping a person under 18 years of age or trafficking a person under 18 years of age.
Violating the law would result in misdemeanor charges for the first two offenses. A third offense would be a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
The law also applies retroactively to any offender who is already required to register for the listed violations.
Goldfinch said the ice cream truck language was aimed at Horry County’s concerns.
“To address that problem specifically, we went from general to very precise,” he said. “It’s just a legal strategy to make sure we take care of the issues at hand.”
The state law also stipulates that the owner of a a child-oriented business who continues to employ a sex offender after law enforcement or another government agency has stated that the offender is prohibited from legally working there could face a civil fine of up to $100 per day.
Cook with the attorney general’s office noted that while the new state law is not an exact copy of the county’s proposed ordinance, the two have overlapping goals and “are indeed very similar.”
Enforcing the state statute rather than creating a new policy would remove any constitutional concerns, according to the attorney general’s office.
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