Sunday, January 15, 2017

Virginia Bills SB1072- Creigh Deeds / HB1485-Dickie Bell/Israel O’Quinn Loitering Bans, What Does it Really Mean?

When an expansion of Virginia’s Loitering Law was proposed with a Bill back in 2013-SB1152 (by my Senator) I shared an experience with every Virginia Legislator who was in office back then.

And knowing that 2017’s SB1072 expansion of not just our Loitering Law but also our Residency Law will be heard tomorrow morning in Senate Courts of Justice Committee I’m pulling out my 2013 opposition to expanding Virginia’s Loitering Law.

Here it is:

In 2011 when I visited my local CVS on the corner of Mechanicsville Turnpike and Lee Davis Rd to get a flu shot there was a 45+ minute wait, so instead of waiting inside the store I went outside for some fresh air.

Within the next 5 minutes Lee Davis High School let-out for the afternoon and students were walking across the street, boarding buses and loading into cars. At that moment I realized that I was “loitering” by definition because I was standing less than 100 ft. from the school property line and if I happened to be a Registered Sex Offender I could be charged with a Class 6 Felony for simply waiting for my turn to get a flu shot. It wouldn’t matter if there was any intent in my presence outside the store, all that needed to happen was a parent to recognize my face from the VSP Registry or for someone to complain that I was lurking and looking at the teens “creepily” and once it was confirmed I was a Virginia Registered Sex Offender I would be handcuffed and hauled off.

SB1278-McDougle Added to Tomorrows VA Senate Courts of Justice Committee Hearing after Docket Was Posted on Friday

SB1278 that only posted in LIS on 01/12/17 for the pubic to track has NOW been added to the Monday January 16, 2017 at 8AM Virginia Senate Courts of Justice Committee docket, .

I realized this particular docket was available on the morning of Friday January 13th and SB1278 was NOT listed on it at that point.  

Since then……. either late in the day or into the evening on the 13th or sometime on Saturday the 14th or maybe early on Sunday the 15th SB1278 was added. 

There is no citizen email sign up to receive dockets or changes in VA Senate Committee meeting agendas. 

There is no mandatory 24 hour time-frame for changes in VA House or Senate Committee dockets for citizens to know about a change. 

And there is no red flag or version notation when a change occurs to a VA Senate Committee docket for citizens to know about the change. 

I just happen to know after 8 years of experience to keep checking Committee dockets/agendas ahead of meetings including on weekends. 

The Virginia General Assembly needs to be more transparent, more accessible and more systematic. 

Last minute and weekend changes to Virginia Committee dockets that have no alert systems in place give the appearance of cloak-and-dagger-politics, zero transparency and a closed-door for citizens to what is going on in our government. 

Mary Devoy