AUGUSTA — A bill to allow towns without police departments to increase the distance between schools and the homes of registered sex offenders has been rejected by the Maine Senate.

The 19-16 vote Thursday followed a heated debate in which supporters said more needs to be done to protect children from sex offenders because the present laws aren’t working.

But opponents said that expanding the allowed distance between sex offenders’ addresses and schools from 750 to 2,500 feet would have little impact. Some opponents also argued that the bill would create a false sense of security for parents.

The bill is expected to go to the House next week.

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