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Friday, April 22, 2016

Action Item: Virginia Attorney General Received an AG Opinion Submission 8 Months Ago to Determine if Virginia’s 22,000+ RSO’s Can Legally Attend Church or Not……….


Recently in Virginia News……….. Delegate Dave LaRock has made it known that he’s upset Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring has failed to answer an Attorney General Opinion that the Delegate submitted 7 months ago looking for a definition of “sex” in reference to sexual orientation and sexual identity. 

Delegate LaRock is so upset that his request has been ignored that he is now suing the Virginia Attorney General demanding “he do his job”.
Lawmaker files suit against Herring to compel opinion on transgender discrimination

Well Delegate LaRock’s submission isn’t the ONLY one that’s been ignored by the Virginia AG’s Office, so has one submitted for me and it’s been 8 months as of Monday.
 

I posted back on January 6th about two AG Opinions that I found two Virginia Legislators to “sponsor” for me. 

One was Submitted on December 5th and on the 14th the AG’s Office declined (in a letter) to look into the request calling the submission “a hypothetical” to the Delegate as the reason not to proceed. The request was NOT a hypothetical; it is real life and possibly an unconstitutional act based on court-rulings in other states for similar mandates and that is why we needed a determination on the statute and how it’s being applied by the official monitor and manager of Virginia’s Registered Sex Offenders, the Virginia State Police. 

But I’m focusing on the other AG Opinion it was submitted by a Virginia Senator on August 18, 2015 and as of today the AG’s Office has NOT responded. 

What was the AG Opinion that I've been waiting on for 8 months? 

Can a Virginia Registered Sex Offender (Non-Violent and/or Violent) attend Church/Worship Services or ANY Other activity on church property if there is also an operating daycare or school on the property"?  

The two Virginia statutes in question in this matter are:
§ 18.2-370.5. - Sex offenses prohibiting entry onto school or other property
§ 18.2-370.2. - Sex offenses prohibiting proximity to children on School and Daycare Property 

For 8 years I've asked numerous Virginia Delegates and Senators who are attorneys and even Commonwealth Attorney’s if Virginia’s Registered Sex Offenders (RSO) are unknowingly committing a felony or not when they attend church services and I've been given many different personal opinions on the statutes but not one of them has ever been willing to definitely say 'yes' or ‘no’. Some have pointed me towards the Virginia State Police (VSP). 

I have asked many different officials within the VSP through the years including most recently on September 23, 2015 in a meeting with now retired VSP Lt. Col. Kemmler "can an RSO go to church" and they always tell me in one fashion or another that the VSP doesn't give legal advice and to answer this particular inquiry would be to give legal advice, so they won’t do it.  

Per Virginia law § 2.2-505 , citizens can not submit requests for an A.G. Opinion but Virginia Legislators, the Governor, a constitutional officer, or the head of a state agency can. My own Delegate (Peace) who offered after a meeting on his own in late-2011 to file an AG Opinion, failed to ever do so. So last July (2015) I followed back up with my Representative asking him to please file an AG Opinion but he failed to ever give me an answer. 

This particular AG Opinion that I’ve been inquiring about for years affects more than 22,000 Virginians this year and next year it will be approximately 23,000 and yet Virginia Representatives, the Virginia State Police and now the Attorney General’s Office ignore it and I don’t have the resources to sue the AG of Virginia to get him to do his job like Delegate LaRock. 

The Virginia AG Opinion process needs to be overhauled and I suggest it be done at the 2017 General Assembly session.

  1. A Virginia Delegate or Senator should not be allowed to decline to submit an AG Opinion when they can not answer a constituent’s inquiry regarding current Virginia law. As the elected-official for that citizen’s District they have an obligation to get a clear answer regarding Virginia law for their constituent.
Ø     They should be required to submit the request within 30 days of being asked. 

Ø     If a Virginia Delegate or Senator ignores a constituents request to submit an AG Opinion there should be a process for a citizen to get the Administration involved.  

  1. All AG Opinion submissions should be posted on the AG website with the ability to track their status. 
Ø     They should be required to post the submission online within 5 days of receiving them. 

Ø     Even if the AG declines to look into the submission, their reply/reason not to proceed should also be posted online. 

Ø     If the AG’s Office is working on a submission the online tracking should have an expected turn around time-frame and if that date passes an update by the AG’s Office would need to be posted. 

Ø     The Virginia Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commissions (JLARC) website tracks and updates all reports they are working on, the Virginia Attorney General website Opinion section should too. 

Ø     Finally the AG website should have an email sign-up to receive notification of any new submissions or decisions so there isn’t any delay for those who are waiting for an answer. 

If Virginia’s lawmakers and law enforcers (VSP) can not determine if Virginia’s Registered Sex Offenders can or can not worship after 8 years of inquiries then the Virginia Attorney General needs make a determination one way or another.

Please contact:
  1. Your one Virginia Delegate and one Senator and ask them to patron legislation at the next General Assembly session in 2017 to make the Virginia AG Opinion process more accountable and transparent.
  2. The Virginia AG’s Office, ask them to address the August 18, 2015 AG Opinion submission on RSO’s worshipping in Virginia.
  3. The Virginia ACLU and ask them to step in with their resources to get the AG’s Office to address the August 18, 2015 AG Opinion submission on RSO’s worshipping in Virginia.

Thank you 

Mary Devoy