Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Dear Virginia House Courts of Justice Committee Members Why Did HB1485 Get Added to Today’s Agenda Just 51 Minutes Ago?

The below was emailed to all Virginia House Courts of Justice Committee members at 9:52AM on February 1, 2017. 

Dear House Courts of Justice Committee Members, 

I made sure to check today’s House Criminal Sub-Committee agenda yesterday and HB1485-Dickie Bell/ Scott Lingamfelter/ Israel O’Quinn was NOT listed. If it had been I’d be on my way down to the GA Bldg right now. 

And yet 51 minutes ago I received the below email notification that HB1485 is all of a sudden on today’s agenda, plus 3 other Bills. These same-day additions keep happening with the VA House Courts of Justice calendars but NOT with the VA Senate, why? 

So I could drop everything I’m doing today and make a bee-line to the GA Bldg to oppose it even though we all know its Companion version (SB1045) died yesterday in Senate Finance but I’ve decided against it. It’s my 25th wedding anniversary and while I should drive down there, wait around all afternoon and then list off all the reasons to oppose HB1485 to the Criminal Sub-Committee I know I can oppose it (if even necessary) when it gets to the Senate.  

To see HB1485 pop-up on today’s agenda tells me that the Patron Dickie Bell is willing to waste the House Committees time so that he can claim this Bill as being “Tough on Sexual Predators” or perhaps that he is closing (a non-existent) “Loophole” for Sex Offenders, possibly for this Novembers election. 

As currently written and requested by VSP Lt. Keenon Hook HB1485 will be retroactively applied to people who moved to Virginia 5, 10 and 15 years ago and are currently registered on the VSP Registry. 

On January 16th VSP Lt. Keenon Hook made this extremely misleading statement to the VA Senate Committee about this proposal: 

“This Bill addresses what VA already sees as public policy Sex Offenders not having unrestricted access to children.  

This Bill also corrects what is NOW an incentive for Offenders who have their convictions in other States move to Virginia. 27 other States have restrictions and these Child Sex Offenders are able to relocate to VA to avoid those restrictions… creates an incentive for them to do so. So this Bill will correct that”.

As if Virginia is a “Haven” or a “Destination” for out-of-State Sex Offenders to flock to. Well, it’s not. 

The annual sexual conviction rate in Virginia and the growth of the VSP Registry are in-line with one another; there is no flood of out-of-state Sex Offenders coming to Virginia. And ANY Registered Sex Offender that lives near a daycare or a school knows if a child is abducted, they will be the very first stop for the police, no one is getting away with anything. 

VSP Lt. Hook is fine knowing that without a conviction date of July 1, 2017 in this Bill some Virginians current residences will retroactively become felonies on July 1st and they could become homeless. I find it very disconcerting that the State Police knowingly proposed a Bill to make citizens homeless and refused to amend it until I stood up in Senate Courts of Justice on January 16th and publicly pointed it out, then and ONLY then was he willing to add a grandfather-clause. If HB1485 moves out of House Criminal-Sub today, it needs the same grandfather clause added. 

The second problem with HB1485 is the loitering portion. 

The Virginians, who will be swept up by this change, previously verified where they could and could not legally “loiter” when they moved to the State of Virginia years ago and registered with the State Police.  But now with HB1485 the rules-of-the-game are changing and it’s a felony! 

Without prior notice we're setting these currently compliant people up for failure with an arbitrary felony for simply picking up their child from a sporting event or dropping them at the corner of their school because they aren’t permitted on the property.