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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

HB1485: Virginia’s Residency Restrictions and Loitering Laws for Those Listed on the VSP Sex Offender Registry


Update:

Well thank goodness; VA Senator Deeds was honest about where 2017’s HB1485/SB1072 actually came from, the Virginia State Police! Unlike Delegate Dickie Bell’s “constituent” claim. 

If you patron a Bill, own where it came from, what the true intent was, what the collateral consequences are and how about who raised the alarm on it's issues.

Mary 

McAuliffe signs sex offender bill, March 22, 2017
New law expands qualifying offenses
 

Original Post:

I’m still working on revising the Legislative Goal page, but everyday I wind up working on a post or two because of the revisions I’m making. 

Today I was gathering all the past legislation that has been proposed to expand Virginia’s Residency Restrictions and Loitering Laws since I became a volunteer advocate (the list is at the very bottom) even though I routinely share all the research with those same lawmakers but they continue to propose expansion anyway. 

Now that 2017’s HB1485 has been signed by the Governor McAuliffe and becomes law on July 1st, Delegate Dickie Bell is out touting his “big win” to news outlets, with a press release. 

·         Out-of-state sex offenders get tighter Va. Regulation, March 21, 2017 http://www.newsleader.com/story/news/local/2017/03/21/out--state-sex-offenders-get-tighter-va-regulation/99442372/
·         Governor signs Delegate Bell's House Bill 1485, March 21, 2017
http://www.whsv.com/content/news/Governor-signs-Delegate-Bells-House-Bill-1485-416782193.html
·         Governor McAuliffe Signs Sex Offender Bill, March 21, 2017
                        http://wsls.com/2017/03/21/governor-mcauliffe-signs-sex-offender-bill/
·         Governor McAuliffe Signs Sex Offender Bill Patroned by Dickie Bell, March 20, 2017
·         McAuliffe signs sex-offender legislation patroned by Bell, March 20, 2017

So I’ve decided to share more details about where HB1485 came from and what Delegate Bell claimed to know and not know about it when we spoke on the phone back on December 20, 2016. 

Delegate Bell has publically claimed he had a "constituent" who came to him about HB1485. 

Well that’s not totally accurate; the “constituent” was a Virginia State Police Investigator. 

From the phone call on December 20, 2016 Delegate Bell told me the VSP Investigator’s original intent with HB1485 was to ban Registered Sex Offender's from all Virginia libraries because the Investigator told him there was an RSO that was “hanging around” the children’s section of the Bristol library. I then advised Delegate Bell that Virginia’s Loitering law does NOT include libraries, so HB1485 would do nothing to change that situation.  

I then advised Delegate Bell I opposed SB384 back in 2014 that was intended to ban RSO’s from Virginia Libraries which was a request by a Commonwealth’s Attorney in Senator Reeves' district. I advised Bell that in 2014 I opposed SB384 in its original form and in its amended forms because in the end it was a ban and that was ruled unconstitutional by the New Mexico Supreme Court. 

So Delegate Bell then told me the VSP Investigator advised him that Virginia needed to “align with Federal Code” and that HB1485 would get us there. 

I then explained to Delegate Bell that I’m well versed in Federal Code for “Sex Offenders” it’s the Adam Walsh Act 2006 also known as SORNA which does NOT have loitering or residency restriction for “Sex Offenders”. Then that there were some pending Bills in Washington for employment of RSO’s with children, but they had not become Federal law at that point. So on the second claim by the VSP Investigator on what HB1485 would do, he was wrong again, or perhaps he had lied to the Delegate or perhaps the Delegate wasn’t being truthful with me. Which option was it? I had been given  2 reasons for HB1485 that were NOT true and I had to make sure these false claims did not spread as fact in an attempt to get public support or Legislature support for this Bill and any Companion version that may pop up at session. 


So 8 days later I sent an email to all the Virginia Legislators advising them of the intention of the Bill, the false claims and the collateral consequences, that’s when Delegate Dickie Bell sent me a scathing email saying he would not take any action to help me get the Bill amended. I hadn’t expected any assistance to begin and as January turned into February I knew my 12/28/16 email was the right thing to do. 

You see on the December 20th call with Delegate Bell I asked him if he understood that by NOT having a conviction date of July 1, 2017 in his Bill, that the Virginia State Police would apply HB1485 retroactively. I also advised him  if that was to occur those people who had established their homes years ago would now be committing a felony. That as of July 1st they would either need to move out of their home and if that wasn’t an option they could become homeless. 

I asked Delegate Bell if these collateral consequences were intended and he said no. So I had asked him to add a conviction date of July 1, 2017 so no one would lose their current home and he advised me he’d share my many concerns (which he asked me to send in an email and I did) with the VSP Investigator. 

But yet when HB1485 made it to the House Courts Criminal-Sub Committee on February 1st (a hearing I couldn’t make http://goo.gl/Fegc8w  http://goo.gl/Uq52Q8 ) no amendment was made by Delegate Bell or by the VSP Representative to avoid current residences from becoming felonies this July. No grandfather clause was added even though I had gotten one added 2 weeks earlier to the Companion version (SB1072) in the Senate Courts of Justice Committee, much to the dismay of the VSP Representative. 
 
When I asked Delegate Bell back in December if it was his intention for citizens to lose their homes, he told me ‘no’. 

So when there was no attempt to amend HB1485 by Delegate Dickie Bell OR by the VSP Representative who knew the Senate version had one and why, it was confirmed for me.  

Both Delegate Dickie Bell AND the Virginia State Police intention WAS to criminalize current residences retroactively. 

Thankfully when HB1485arrived in the Senate 2 weeks later the Senators automatically conformed it to match SB1072 with a grandfather-clause exempting all residences established prior to this coming July 1st 

The Senate Courts of Justice Committee did the right thing even when Delegate Dickie Bell and the VSP Representative refused to. It wasn’t a careless oversight, it was intended cruelty. 

In the end HB1485 does absolutely NOTHING to "protect Virginia’s children" as Delegate Bell is claiming in his press release. 

This “feel good” law ONLY degrades controls and pushes those listed on the Virginia Sex Offender Registry further to the margins of society. 

But hey……..it will look really, really good in Delegate Dickie Bell’s 2017 campaign materials for this coming Novembers for re-election.  

Mary Devoy 
 

Past attempts by Virginia Legislators to expand Residency Restrictions (and Loitering) in Virginia
 
Residency:
·         2010 - HB1004 Patroned by Delegate Clay Athey now a VA judge, Delegate Dave Albo and Senator Jill Vogel
·         2011 -  HB1823 Patroned by Delegate Glenn Oder retired
·         2015 - HB1505 Patroned by Delegate Dave Albo

Residing in Assisted Living Facilities:
·         2010 - HB967 Patroned by Delegate Chris Peace (Bill was amended in Committee to prohibit RSO’s, then the amendment was later removed)

Residency AND Loitering:
·         2017 - SB1072 Patroned by Senator Creigh Deeds
·         2017 - HB1485 Patroned by Delegate Dickie Bell, Delegate Scott Lingamfelter and Delegate Israel O’Quinn

Loitering:
·         2011HB1523 Patroned by Delegate Steve Landes
·         2010 - HB919 Patroned by Delegate Rob Bell
·         2013 - SB1152 Patroned by Senator Ryan McDougle