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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Some Good News, a Start Date was Added to Senator Garrett’s SB1138 AND It Appears We Have Confirmation the 2006 and 2008 Retroactive Re-Classifications Legality is Highly Questionable!


 
Finally, a bit of good news to share from the 2015 Virginia General Assembly session. 

Yesterday afternoon the Senate Courts of Justice Committee heard SB1138 which Raises the penalty for sexual abuse (a defined term) of a child 13 or 14 years old from a Class 1 misdemeanor to a Class 6 felony I posted about the issue with this bill back on January 14, 2015 . I wasn’t opposing the point of making it a felony, I opposed the fact that it had no start date and when past bills like this have become law.... the Virginia State Police has then implemented the change retroactively to the currently listed Registered Sex Offenders on the VSP Registry. By increasing their classification from Non-Violent to Violent, making them “Lifers” instead of being able to petition for removal after 15 years and changing their mandated re-registrations from once a year to every 90 days. All while denying them due process. 

When I spoke to the Virginia Senate Courts of Justice Committee about this issue it was amazing every single one of them.... I had their undivided attention. 

I told them that when they made similar legislative changes in 2006 and 2008 without including a start/effective date the Virginia State Police (VSP) took that as a directive to retroactively apply the change to our current Non-Violent Offenders. I told the Committee that I found the number from the 2008 change to be 1,492 Virginians and I still didn’t know how many from 2006. That the fiscal impact statements in 2006 and 2008 did not capture including these current offenders and that this SB1138 was also going to miss the true cost since we don’t know if 200 or 2000 Non-Violent Offenders who would be swept up. 

I reminded them that the Virginia Sex Offender Registry already lists approximately 83% of the Offenders as Violent leaving just 17% as Non-Violent and with SB1138 we would move Virginia closer to a single-tiered classification system where everyone listed is considered the same and no ever has the ability to petition for removal. Making it worthless for the public who are attempting to decipher who poses a true threat and who has just been swept up in such mass legislative mandates like this one.

Senator Stanley’s SB700 and Delegate Ramadan’s HB1354: Proposing a VSP Public Animal Cruelty Registry



Update: 

  1. On January 22nd Senator Stanley SB700 passed out of Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee and onto Senate Finance. On January 28th Senate Finance “passed the bill by indefinitely”. SB700 is dead for 2015.
  2. On January 28th Delegate Ramadan tabled his own bill HB1354 in House Courts of Justice Criminal Sub Committee. He told members with the $130,000 cost he knew his bill would not pass but he believes in creating an Animal Cruelty Registry and will resubmit his bill in the future when there are funds to approve it. HB1354 is dead for 2015. 

Original Post:

Senator Stanley’s SB700 VSP Animal Cruelty “List” will be heard by the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee this afternoon. 

Back in 2011 the Virginia State Crime Commission studied if there should be an Animal Abuser Registry because of a bill at the 2011 session. Here is the VSCC Presentation, http://leg5.state.va.us/User_db/frmvscc.aspx?ViewId=1989 

Per the presentations, in 2011 an estimate of the funds needed for an Animal Abuser Registry was:
·         $49,321 would need to be appropriated to DOC in FY12
·         Two state correctional beds and less than one local jail bed would be impacted by FY17
·         VSP estimated that about $986,000 would be required to design and develop a new registry and website
·         An additional $126,411 would be needed each year to support a position
·         Cost to local law enforcement was unknown. 

From FY2007 to FY2011 (5 year period) there were 104 Felony convictions of Animal Abuse in Virginia. That’s 20.8 convictions per year. More than $1 million for a public Animal Abuser Registry for 20.8 additional people per year. 

I did not oppose the bill during the 2011 session but I did oppose it during the VSCC study. The 2011 VSCC voted NOT to create an Animal Abuser Registry.