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VACP 2013 Virginia General Assembly Pre-Session Report

January 8, 2013 | VACP

Wednesday, January 9, is opening day for the Virginia General Assembly. A number of bills have been pre-filed that the VACP will be following during session, although legislators have until January 18 to file additional bills. We will post legislative updates to our website to keep you apprised of scheduled hearings, legislative bills and budget amendments.

Governor McDonnell did NOT propose any cuts to 599 funding for local police departments in his budget, and at this time there are no budget amendments that significantly impact Virginia law enforcement agencies. It’s anticipated that the tragic shootings in Connecticut will give rise to a variety of legislative proposals to address school safety, mental health services and access to firearms. The Governor’s School and Campus Safety Task Force will attempt to address many of these issues during its meetings in January that should help give direction to the legislative process. The VACP and VACLEA will work closely with the Governor’s Office on this task force to seek a balanced response to keeping our schools safe.

An initial list of legislation of importance to Virginia law enforcement is listed below, and we will send out notices of legislative meetings when significant law enforcement and public safety bills are scheduled to be heard.

VACP and VACLEA members with legislative concerns for 2013 should email Dana Schrad at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Important Dates

  • January 9 – Session opens
  • January 18 – bill filing deadline
  • February 3 – budget committee complete work on their bills
  • February 5/6 – bills crossover to opposing body
  • February 21 – budget conference report released
  • February 23 – Session ends
  • April 3 – Reconvened session for vetos, Governor’s amendments

Civil Remedies and Procedure

  • HB 1415 Self-defense and defense of others; encodes version of "castle doctrine."

Constitutional Amendments

  • HJ 536 Constitutional amendment; right to work (first reference).

Crimes and Offenses Generally

  • HB 1431 Murder; increases penalty for conspiracy to commit.

  • SB 706 Elderly or incapacitated adults; financial exploitation, penalties.

  • SB 726 Poker; definition of illegal gambling and charitable gaming, etc. (Senator L. Lucas) Defines "poker games" as games of skill and therefore not illegal gambling. The bill allows a qualified organization to conduct poker games in conjunction with its charitable gaming activities, but does not allow a charitable organization to conduct poker tournaments

  • SB 746 Children; failure to report missing, penalty.

  • SB 751 Aggravated malicious wounding; penalty.

  • SB 763 Unlawful photographs or video; Class 6 felony for a person to publish on Internet, penalty. (Senator J. Edwards) Provides that it is a Class 6 felony for a person to publish on the Internet a photograph or video made in violation of the current law prohibiting filming, videotaping, or photographing a nonconsenting person in certain situations where there is an expectation of privacy.

Motor Vehicles

  • HB 1357 Handheld personal communications devices; texting while driving a primary offense.

  • HB 1360 Reckless driving; using a handheld personal communications device, penalty. (Delegate B. Cline) Provides that driving while simultaneously using a handheld communications device for something other than verbal communication constitutes driving a motor vehicle that is not under proper control, punishable as reckless driving, a Class 1 misdemeanor. Under current law, the more specific offense of "texting while driving" (repealed by this bill) incurs a $20 fine and is a secondary offense, which means that a law-enforcement officer must have cause to stop or detain a driver for some other violation, the primary offense, before issuing a citation for texting while driving, the secondary offense.

  • HB 1366 Smoking; unlawful for person to smoke in motor vehicle with minor present, civil penalty.

  • HB 1371 Reckless driving; removes driving in excess of 80 mph, etc.

  • HB 1386 Overweight vehicle permits; allows court to invalidate standard permit in certain circumstances.

  • HB 1393 Fleet management; DGS to issue guidance documents to govern use of vehicles in state fleet.

  • HB 1395 Abandoned vehicles; localities allowed to sell by any commercial means those taken into custody.

  • HB 1484 Farm vehicles; extends travel distance limitation on unregistered vehicles used on seasonal basis.

  • HJ 576 Street signs; joint subcommittee to study persons with disabilities signs.

  • SB 694 Reckless driving; removes driving in excess of 80 mph, etc. (Senator R. Black) Removes the finding of reckless driving for driving at speeds in excess of 80 miles per hour regardless of the applicable maximum speed limit.

  • SB 705 Child restraint devices; penalty if child suffers injury or death.

  • SB 731 Mopeds; prohibited on highways with speed limits in excess of 35 miles per hour.

  • SB 736 Motor vehicle doors; requires drivers and passengers to wait for reasonable opportunity to open.

  • SB 771 License plates; display of a single plate on registered vehicles.

  • SB 794 Disabled parking placards; physicians may issue to patients.


  • HB 1347 Workers' compensation; injuries to public safety officers. (Delegate T. Wright) Provides that an injury incurred by a public safety officer that occurs in the course of his employment at a location that is off the premises his regular premises of employment shall be deemed to have arisen out of employment if the injury would not have occurred but for the fact that the conditions and obligations of his employment placed the public safety officer at the location where the injury was incurred. Such an employee shall not be required to prove (i) that the nature of his employment exposed him to a special, additional, peculiar, or particular risk of injury to which a member of the public is not generally subject or (ii) a causal connection between the conditions under which his employment was required to be performed and the resulting injury. The measure would eliminate an employer's defense that such an injury was an act of God not covered by the Virginia Workers' Compensation Act. The measure would not apply to injuries incurred prior to July 1, 2013.

  • HB 1358 Law-enforcement officer; impersonating an officer is Class 1 misdemeanor. (Delegate J. Cox) Provides that any person who falsely assumes or exercises the functions, powers, duties and privileges incident to the office of sheriff, police officer, marshal, or other local, city, county, state or federal law-enforcement officer, or who falsely assumes or pretends to be any such officer, is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. "Local, city, county, state, or federal law-enforcement officer" replaces the descriptor "peace officer" that is used in the code section currently.

  • HB 1376 Controlled substances; law-enforcement officer's testimony regarding field-test identification. (Delegate D. Merricks) Provides that any law-enforcement officer shall be permitted to testify as to results of field tests approved by the Department of Forensic Science regarding identification of a substance at issue in a preliminary hearing on a violation of subdivision 6 of § 53.1-203 (possession of drugs by an inmate). Under current law, this provision applies to only violations of Article 1 (§ 18.2-247 et seq.) of Chapter 7 of Title 18.2 (drug crimes).

  • HB 1379 Law-Enforcement Assistance Program; DCJS to develop a peer-counseling program. (Delegate J. Yost) Requires the Department of Criminal Justice Services to develop a peer-counseling program to provide services, in the event of the death of or tragedy involving a law-enforcement officer in the course of his duties, to requesting immediate family members of the officer or to any other requesting law-enforcement officer. The program must include a training course for any law-enforcement officer who volunteers as a peer counselor.

  • HB 1380 Assault and battery; includes campus police officers within enhanced penalty provision. (Delegate J. Yost) SB 828 Dangerous and vicious dogs; authorizes animal control officer to apply to magistrate for summons.


  • HB 1326 Concealed handgun permits; firearms safety courses. (Delegate L. Torian) Eliminates certain firearms safety courses the completion of which currently satisfies the requirement that all resident and nonresident applicants for a concealed handgun permit demonstrate competence with a handgun. The bill also requires that certain firearms safety courses that satisfy this requirement focus primarily on the use and handling of a concealed handgun.

  • HB 1410 Firearms; possession of weapons following conviction of certain crimes, penalty. (Delegate J. Scott) Prohibits any person who is convicted of stalking, sexual battery, or assault and battery of a family member that results in serious bodily injury from possessing, transporting, or carrying a firearm or any other weapon for a period of five years following his conviction. A violation would constitute a Class 6 felony. The bill also provides for the forfeiture of any weapon possessed, transported, or carried in violation of the prohibition. Finally, the bill provides for a process by which a violator may petition the circuit court for a reinstatement of his rights to possess, transport, or carry a weapon.

  • HB 1411 Hoax explosive devices; imitation weapons of terrorism, increased penalties.

  • SB 785 Firearms; use in commission of crime, civil liability. (Delegate D. Marsden) Provides that a person may be held civilly liable for injury to the person or property of another or for wrongful death resulting from the use of a firearm in the commission of a crime if it can be shown by clear and convincing evidence that the firearm came into the possession of the person who committed the crime because of the failure of the civil defendant to adequately secure the firearm from theft or unauthorized possession.

  • SB 786 Firearms, lost or stolen; failure to report, civil penalty. (Delegate D. Marsden) Creates a $250 civil penalty for the offense of failing to report to law enforcement that a firearm a person owns or lawfully possesses has been lost or stolen.