Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Action Item and Update on Robby’s Rule 2015: HB1353 Was on Virginia Senate Courts of Justice Committee Agenda Yesterday and Yet They Did NOT Discuss the Bill OR Allow Public Comment


On February 18th HB1353 passed the Virginia Senate 38-0 (2 Senators are in attendance due to medical issues),  in an uncontested “block vote” it now heads to Governor McAuliffe to be signed into law, amended or vetoed.

Original Post:

Virginia Robby’s’ Rule 2015 HB1353 (House version) was on yesterdays Senate Courts of Justice Committee agenda. 

This would have been the LAST time the public could have spoken ‘for’ or ‘against’ the bill. 

But instead the Senate Courts of Justice Committee took a large number of identical (House to Senate) bills and incorporated them, which did not allow for public comment. 

This happened with HB1353 Robby’s Rule. 

The sponsor Delegate Ramadan didn’t even come to the hearing to present his bill so it was already common knowledge amongst the Legislators that HB1353 would NOT be discussed and public comment would NOT be allowed. So why was it even on the agenda?

THIS is the VERY reason the public needs to show up in-person to speak when a bill is being heard in the first chamber instead of waiting to see if it makes it to the second chamber!

If there is a similar (companion) bill in the opposite chamber SB1074 and they both pass the first chambers it appears the Virginia Legislature has taken the attitude that a second discussion and public comment is NOT necessary. 
A clause has been added to both versions of Robby’s Rule for funding which I think is totally unnecessary based on the cost of the bill so it makes me wonder if this will allow for an “out” so that Robby’s Rule could fail in the end even though almost every Delegate and Senator voted for it. Here is the clause:

1.       Line 53, engrossed, after line 52
2.      That the provisions of this act shall not become effective unless an appropriation effectuating the purposes of this act is included in a general appropriation act passed in 2015 by the General Assembly that becomes law.

SB1074 History:
  1. January 19, 2015 passed out of Senate Courts of Justice Committee 14-0 after public comment was heard
  2. January 27, 2015 passed out of Senate Finance Committee 14-0
  3. January 30, 2015 passed through the Virginia Senate 38-0.
  4. Not sent to House Courts of Justice Criminal Sub or to Full Committee for public comment
  5. February 11, 2015 passed out of House Appropriations 22-0.
  6. February 13, 2015 passed through the Virginia House 92-3.
  7. Heads to the Governor to be signed into law!
HB1353 History:
  1. January 28, 2015 passed out of House Courts of Justice Criminal Sub-Committee 11-0 after public comment was heard
  2. February 4, 2015 passed out of House Courts of Justice Full Committee 20-0.
  3. February 10, 2015 passed through the Virginia House 93-6.
  4. February 16, 2015 HB1353 was on the Senate Courts of Justice docket where public comment should have been allowed but instead the Committee conformed HB1353 to match the Senate version (without the patron present), they did not allow public comment and moved it forward 13-0
  5. Heads to the Senate Floor for a vote this week!
Since its introduction the number of Co-Patrons with the House version has sky-rocketed to 15, perhaps because of the November elections. 

The Virginia State Police wrote the text of the bills, some Commonwealth Attorneys have stood in support of it and the Legislative Liaison for PROTECT also has stood in support. 

It appears the deck is stacked, guaranteeing Robby’s Rule becomes law in Virginia this year.

Robby’s Rule will NOT prevent future crimes, but it may violate Due Process, it WILL include the deceased and people who no longer live here. Worst of all it leads the public to wrongly presume Virginians who share the same name are Sex Offenders, with no way to prove their innocence. 

Laws SHOULD NOT be passed on emotion. 

Laws are supposed to be based on facts. 

Laws are also supposed to protect society, not hurt them. 

Robby’s Rule is an unverified “data dump” of 35 year old court records onto the VSP website that will never be updated, making this year’s version (as opposed to the 2014 version), CHEAP. 

Why would Virginia Legislators, the Virginia State Police and Virginia Prosecutors accept a cheap law that gives the public only partial, unverified information instead of accurate data with an address or photo that would stop misidentifications? 

This is what happens when the public allows Legislators to name legislation after crime victims, a bill that will do more harm than good. 

Robby’s Rule 2015 should have been stopped by now, but everyone involved in the process has chosen to look the other way giving the namesake what he wants and ignoring the collateral consequences. 

When innocent Virginians are harmed who will answer?  

Rob Buswell (Robby) is not to blame; he was on a one track personal quest, to get his abuser’s pre-1994 conviction posted online, no matter what. 

The blame for this poorly written and CHEAP law will be on our elected officials and those citizens who believe in naming laws after victims. 

There may be no fiscal cost to the State with Robby’s Rule but there will be a human cost, to innocent citizens in the Commonwealth.  

Two action Items for Readers:

1)     Please email the Governor Terry McAuliffe immediately asking him not to sign SB1074 or HB1353 (Robby’s Rule) into law. He can either veto them or take no action at all allowing them to die without action https://governor.virginia.gov/constituent-services/communicating-with-the-governors-office/ 

2)    Please email all 40 Virginia Senators immediately asking them to vote ‘No” on HB1353 when it comes before them


Thank you! 

Mary Devoy

Oh....Look what I found yesterday 

Child Molestation Victim Campaigns for Sex Offender Registry Improvements, HNGN True Crime Contributor Jon Leiberman Reports, February 16, 2015