Monday, January 18, 2016

SB11 Patroned by Senator Howell was Amended, then Passed 9 to 5 out of Today’s Senate Courts of Justice Committee

Virginia Bill SB11 which proposed removing the Employer/Company Name and Address from the Virginia State Police Sex Offender Registry was amended to just remove the Employer/Company name (leaving the address) and then passed 9 to 5.

One young man came (with his wife) to the hearing specifically to speak in support of the proposal and he did a very fine job, thank you for coming! But that was it; one RSO stood up to share what having Employers information posted online really means. I hoped a few of you would show up, not a land-slide but more than 1.

As I stated in an earlier post I did NOT plan on speaking in favor of the Bill, hoping that might help it pass.  

But for the second time in today’s hearing a misleading question/statement was made by Chairman/Senator Mark Obenshain about Federal compliance for RSO's that the patron did not reply to and it needed to be rebutted so my approaching the Legislative Services/Legal Counsel desk without saying a word to the Committee and handing them a stack of 50-State/SORNA comparison so if the Chairman REALLY wanted to know the answer counsel could share the chart with the Chairman and then I returned to my seat. 

This sent Senator Obenshain over the edge he chastised me and for a brief moment I thought he would have me forcibly removed from the room. It was unreal! 

I have reviewed my audio recording of the meeting more than 10 times and I am going to recap portions of the discussion here. 

Senator Howell did a good sales job. She mentioned Kansas and Texas recently removing ALL Employer information from their Registries. She then introduced the young man (an RSO) who spoke in support of the Bill.

Then Senator Stuart asked Senator Howell, “if I were to have hypothetical a Birthday party for a bunch of children (12 year old girls or something) under this bill I would not now know if the caterer that I hired had people that committed crimes against children, is that correct?……….Or did I misunderstand” Senator Howell then replied, “No….. I believe that is correct” 

Then Senator McDougle said, “some of us…..share some concerns about making sure that employers to some degree that want to….have the desire too…. and with knowledge are able to hire individuals…would you think if we took out the main portion of the Bill and just had the address would that achieve what you want?” Senator Howell replied, “it would be an improvement” 

(Here comes the misleading statement/question I referred to at the top of the post- Mary). 

Chairman Obenshain then said, “Let me point out with respect to that there’s actually a reason why…… that might be a good compromise for you to consider. Federal law requires reporting the address, my understanding is that it does not require the reporting of the name*….if we do that which apparently we do now because we chose to do it…......and that seems to be a policy decision as whether we continue (excuse me)……......We’re not going to allow members of the public to come up and interact with counsel during our meetings” which was directed to me. 

So I responded “it’s a 50 State list, that’s it, you mentioned 50 States so I delivered it”. 

Chairman Obenshain said, “We’re not going to allow it, during our meetings”. 

I didn’t say anything else because that’s what I think he wanted. 

See where the red asterisks is above, that is where I walked quietly over to the Legislative Services desk whispered to the lady here is a 50 State comparison list including SORNA compliancy and then I walked back to my seat. 

Chairman Obenshain then said, “Senator McDougle has suggested a compromise…. There is still the issue do we want to eliminate the names of employers am I correct in my recitation of what Federal requirements are?” Senator Howell replied, “I may not have been clear but I was agreeing with the approach Senator McDougle made”. 

NO! - 29 States do not list any employer information publicly and five of those States are Federal Adam Walsh Act AWA/SORNA compliant. 

The vote by Committee members 9 “Yeas” were Deeds, Edwards, Howell, McEachin, Lucas, McDougle, Stanley, Saslaw and Reeves and the  5 “Nays” were Obenshain, Chafin, Garrett, Stuart and Sturtevant, Norment was absent from the room. This revised tally is from LIS, I noted will in the hearing that Norment voted Yea and Stanley was missing so I’m not sure how that was flipped in the LIS count.

SB11 now moves to the full Senate chamber for a vote. 
I was surprised that the State Police didn’t oppose this Bill; I guess they are waiting to support HB628.

Mary Devoy