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Sunday, February 2, 2014

Update: Has SB442 Died in Senate Finance or is it Still Viable? If it Did Die What is the Real Reason?

 
February 3, 2014 Alert: 

It appears SB442 is not officially “dead”!
SB442 is scheduled to be heard by Senate Finance on Tuesday February 4, 2014 in the morning. 

Mary 

Original Post:

Below is an update about SB442 from the patrons Facebook page dated January 31, 2014 that appears to have more recent information than LIS has on the bill , he claims the bill has died. 

For anyone who needs to catch up on past posts about SB442 go to these links http://goo.gl/6cMCWp, http://goo.gl/nttZ65, http://goo.gl/DH86si . 

I do not oppose SB442, all I was asking for is a start date of July 1, 2014 because otherwise I believe it would be applied by the Virginia State Police retroactively to currently registered Non-Violent offenders.  

Why do I believe this?

Well........in 2006 and 2008 the VSP retroactively reclassified Non-Violent Offenders to Violent with similar bills that became law that did NOT note this step would occur and the bills also did not have start dates.
 
So beginning at the 2009 G.A. session if a similar proposal came before the House or Senate I would ask for a start date to be added to avoid a retroactive reclassification and for the last 5 session start dates have been added to these bills by the Senate. AND until THIS year the Senate has always done so, until SB442 was debated on January 27, 2014 when there was significant push-back to my insistence of adding a start date to avoid retroactive reclassifications. At first I wondered why they are fighting this suggestion in 2014 when they’ve had no issues previously. 

For the last week I have been working behind the scenes trying to get the VSP to answer a one simple and very direct question. 

“If SB442 does not have a start date of 2014 added and it does becomes law on July 1st, will the VSP retroactively re-classify those who were previously convicted under it when it was a misdemeanor and who are currently classified as Non-Violent  to Violent”.

If this was done these Virginians would become “Lifers” on the Virginia Registry and it would increase their re-registration from once per year to every 90 days, plus it denies them Due Process. 

The VSP would not answer “yes” or “no” but only “It is the policy of this Department not to comment on pending legislation”.
 
Now with the news from Senator Garrett’s Facebook page on the recent developments of SB442 being killed in Finance on Friday January 31 I am wondering if the entire bill died because of me publically pointing out the reclassifications that were done back in 2006 and 2008 by the VSP might have been done without legal justification.  

I haven’t had time to research this issue thoroughly as I have been attending to other bills but I am beginning to suspect that 9.1-902 was not amended back in 2006 and 2008. Legislative Services told me this year (for the first time ever) that a start date should never  be needed in a bill including SB442 because if reclassifications were to legitimately occur first changes MUST be submitted in the bill to 9.1-902 as well. I do not believe that back in 2006 or 2008 changes were made to 9.1-902 in the bills that became law and resulted in mass re-classification. Nor was a start date included. So for the last 6 session (2009-2014) I have been routinely asking for start dates to be added to bills to avoid this ever happening again and they have done it, until now. 

I believe it may be because this year someone in authority has taken the time to do the research that I have not had the time to do and they’ve determined that the 2006 and 2008 re-classifications were done without the proper changes to 9.1-902 which means those people should not have been reclassified, but were. 

If my hunch is correct, this is a huge error on the States part and could result in a large legal challenge. But they would need to figure out how to approach this issue and having a new bill like SB442 proceeding through the Legislature without a date and without any changes to 9.1-902 couldn’t reclassify RSO’s but if they don’t do it in 2014 how could they justify it having been done back in 2006 and 2008? They couldn’t, legally. SB442 no matter how it passes and is applied would hurt the 2006 and 2008 argument either way with or without a date. 

So what needs to be done until they can come up with a game plan, kill SB442 for 2014? This is my belief, I could be wrong.
 

But I don’t believe the financial cost of SB442 is why it “died”  per the Senators Facebook page (LIS doesn’t note a change from January 31, yet). 

SB442 could still “come back to life” before Cross-Over Day and I was hesitant to make this post wondering if I make this issue public would it force them to keep SB442 alive in an attempt to prove me suspicions wrong? But in the end I decided to go ahead and post my current thoughts based on what I have been told and what requests I have made that those in authority have refused to answer over this last week. If it SB442 does get revived I still believe a start date needs to be included to prevent any possible misapplication by the VSP. Of course at this point any reclassification without due process to those reclassified will justify a court challenge to finally put this whole issue to rest. Maybe the time has finally come. 

I’ll keep an eye on the Senate schedules and SB442 for the next 2 weeks just in case they revive it. 

Thanks for following this blog and keep in mind I am not an attorney the above is just my personal opinion based on the last 6 session of advocacy and the change that has occurred this year in attitude, in opinion and in amendments for the same request I’ve made many times before. 

Mary Devoy 

Article:
Sen. Garrett blasts panel that killed bill, January 31, 2014


From Senator Garrett’s Facebook page  January 31, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SUBJECT: Legislative Update: SB442 – July 31, 2014

Today something absolutely unconscionable happened. My bill, Senate Bill 442, was recommended to be passed-by for the year by the Democratic-controlled Senate Finance Subcommittee for Public Safety. The subcommittee’s recommendation essentially kills the bill, because the full Finance Committee rarely, if ever, votes against the recommendation of one of its subcommittees. We sincerely hope that the committee will find it appropriate to make a, perhaps, unprecedented move. SB442 addressed a serious gap in the Virginia Code that deals with sexual predators’ crimes against children. Under current laws, an adult who solicits an act of sexual abuse against a thirteen year old can be convicted of a serious felony. But if that same adult actually commits the act of sexual abuse against the same thirteen year old, he can be found guilty of a misdemeanor under 18.2-67.10. To be clear, soliciting, under the current Code, is deemed more serious than committing the act. That is the absurdity that my bill addressed.

In arguing my case before the then Republican-controlled Senate Courts of Justice Committee, that committee recognized the necessity of correcting the Code and the bill passed unanimously, 15 – 0. But, the Democrat-controlled Senate Finance Subcommittee, in a unanimous Democrat vote, failed the people of the Commonwealth and especially our children. Their rationale appeared to be that we could not afford the costs of prosecuting these predators. The bill carried a fiscal impact of approximately $960,000. The proposed biennial budget is $96 billion but the Democrats couldn’t find $960 thousand. Again to be clear, they couldn’t find one hundred thousandth of the overall budget to protect our children. Furthermore, I wasn’t even given a chance to defend its merit. That is what I mean when I say this is unconscionable.

This week, I was more than concerned to learn that I was unceremoniously removed from the Senate Courts of Justice Committee in a partisan power play. I was concerned because, arguably, I have the strongest record as a prosecutor in the General Assembly of protecting our children. Today, my worst concerns were realized.

Sincerely,

Senator Thomas A. (Tom) Garrett, Jr.