Friday, January 13, 2017

Action Item: Virginia Bill SB1072 (Senate Part of a Companion Set) is Scheduled to be Heard in Virginia Senate Courts of Justice Committee on Monday January 16th at 8:00AM

On Monday January 16, 2017 at 8AM the Virginia Senate Courts of Justice Committee will meet and SB1072 is on the docket, . This docket is exceedingly long, so there will be Bills on this agenda that get pushed-off until the next Courts of Justice meeting on January 18 or even the following meeting on the 23rd. But I will be in attendance on the change SB1072 is debated as Committee hearings are the only time the public can speak for or against a Bill. 

SB1072 is one of two similar Bills, one in each chamber (“Companion Bills”) that need to be significantly amended or “killed”. 

With “Companion Bills” the How a Bill Becomes a Law in Virginia process isn’t fully followed. If they aren’t “killed” in the first chamber when they flip to the opposite chamber the Committee just converts the opposite chambers version to match the one they previously passed out of the chamber, with no debate, discussion or public comment. 

This means the public can NOT wait for the second pass to show up at Committee to speak against the Bill or to send emails or make phone calls against them. Each Bill must get the full-court-press BEFORE it passes out of the first Committee hearing. 

This means anyone who opposes these 2 Bills needs to take action against the Senate version NOW, see their contact information at the bottom of this post.

Who has sponsored these Bills? 

SB1072  is patroned by Senator Creigh Deeds and the House version HB1485 is patroned by Delegates Dickie Bell and Israel O'Quinn.

What do these Bills Claim to Do? 

SB1072 adds “includes any similar offense under the laws of any foreign country or any political subdivision thereof, any Native American tribe or band that is recognized by federal law, or the United States or any political subdivision thereof”. Compared to HB1485 that adds “shall include any offense under the law of any other jurisdiction that is substantially similar”  

  1. §§ 18.2-370.2 (Loitering w/in 100ft for some RSO’s on VSP Sex Offender Registry)
  2. §§ 18.2-370.3 (Residency Restrictions w/in 500ft. for some RSO’s on VSP Sex Offender Registry)
  3. §§ 18.2-370.4 (Employment for some RSO’s on VSP Sex Offender Registry) 

Who Will be Affected by these Bills?

  • The number of current Registered Sex Offenders who would be affected by these 3 changes is unknown by the Patrons and by the Virginia State Police. It could be 50 or 5000 so the $50,000 Fiscal Impact Statements are meaningless.
  • Neither version (Senate or House) has a conviction date of July 1, 2017 which means the Virginia State Police will retroactively apply these 3 changes in law all the way back to convictions from 2000, 17 years ago. This will result in:
Ø     Currently registered Virginians who are legally taking their children to and from daycare, school, school-sponsored events and sporting events today, would be committing a felony on July 1st and face arrest.
Ø     Currently registered Virginians homes will become a felony violation on July 1st, facing arrest then eviction and possibly homelessness. 

                No intent to commit a crime is needed just their mere presence becomes an arbitrary crime, a felony. 

Can these Bills be Fixed? 
  • SB1072 and HB1485 could be amended by completely removing §§ 18.2-370.2 AND §§ 18.2-370.3 , so that ONLY §§ 18.2-370.4 remains.
  • Otherwise both Bills need to be stopped in Committee.
Virginia should NOT be expanding the RSO Loitering and Residency Statutes we should be repealing them 

20 years worth of research has concluded these types of myth-based, feel-good laws do NOT make communities safer but only make reentry for former-offenders impossible. 

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals stated back on November 30, 2016 in their ruling on North Carolina’s Residency Restrictions “empirical evidence is needed to prove that without the restriction harm will occur”.  

There is ZERO empirical evidence supporting Loitering Laws or Residency Laws. 

There is also NO Federal requirement/law for Loitering or Residences of “Sex Offenders” though it has been claimed to one of the Patrons as a reason to push these changes. 

Virginians deserve data-driven laws NOT proposals driven by fear, hate and vengeance. 

It’s time for a Smarter Virginia Registry! 

Please email or call the Committee members and ask them to amend or stop SB1072 on Monday morning. 

Thank you! 

Mary Davye Devoy

2017- VA Senate Courts of Justice Committee
Richmond, VA. During Session
Chairman-                   Mark Obenshain     *Also on VSCC 
Ben Chafin
Creigh Deeds
John Edwards
Still a Vacant Seat as of 01/13/17
Janet Howell                       *Also on VSCC
L. Louise Lucas
Ryan McDougle
Still a Vacant Seat as of 01/13/17
Thomas “Tommy” Norment                          *Also on VSCC  
Bryce Reeves              *Also on VSCC
*Also on VCSC
Richard Saslaw
William Stanley
Richard Stuart
Glen Sturtevant