Fariss gives update on bills

Published 10:00 am Friday, January 31, 2020

The third week of the 2020 Session wrapped up last week, and I wanted to take a moment to update you on the latest news from Richmond.

Republicans remain undeterred from passing meaningful legislation in the House of Delegates despite a slow start under Democratic leadership.  Allow me to highlight some of my own bills currently under consideration in various committees:

-HB 976: Virginia State Police; Executive Protection Unit; possession of firearms. Provides that notwithstanding any other provision of law, a state police officer serving on the Executive Protection Unit may possess a firearm only to the extent permitted by law for a civilian.

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– HB 1593: Historical African American cemeteries; Buckingham County. Adds the Stanton Family Cemetery in Buckingham County, with 36 eligible graves, to the list of cemeteries for which qualified organizations may receive funds from the Department of Historic Resources for the care of historical African American cemeteries and graves.

– HB 1598: James State Scenic River designation. Adds a 20-mile portion of the James River located in Albemarle, Buckingham, and Fluvanna Counties to the James State Scenic River, a component of the Virginia Scenic Rivers System.

  HB 1694: Tax credits; vested interest. Creates a vested interest when a taxpayer claims a tax credit, including an interest in any conditions placed upon the credit, and prohibits alteration of such interest by a subsequent action of the General Assembly. The provisions of the act are retroactive but shall not be construed to extend the time during which a taxpayer may file an amended tax return.

You can find a complete list of my legislation here –  http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?201+mbr+H235C

In addition to legislation mentioned above, I have also introduced amendments to Virginia’s budget that would allocate funds for the Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center and the Stanton Family Cemetery in Buckingham.   You can find a complete list of my budget amendments here –  https://budget.lis.virginia.gov/amendments/2020/1/HB30/Introduced/MR/.

The Virginia House of Delegates passed legislation last week that will make certain violent criminals eligible for parole. If signed by the governor, those who will now have the ability to come before the Virginia Parole Board include rapists and murderers.

House Bill 33 will force victims of violent crimes and their families to relive the worst day of their lives over and over again. And when parole is granted, it will result in violent criminals being released into our communities.

Supporters argue that this bill does not mean that felons will be released, that it simply enables a “look under the hood” to see if there is reason to grant parole. The consequences of this bill are simple — if it passes, there will be violent offenders who leave prison early. If the bill fails, they will not.

Even opening the door to parole for these felons can hurt their victims again. Victims will be called to testify at parole board hearings. If they seek to keep their attackers behind bars, they must continually relive their trauma each time the parole board meets to consider the application.

The breakdown of felons who would be eligible for parole under the proposal is eye opening. One hundred and twelve are jailed for homicide in the first degree. Thirty-seven are jailed for rape or sexual assault. Fifty are jailed for violent robbery.

The bill was amended by unanimous vote to remove from eligibility those who committed sex crimes against children. House Republicans offered two additional amendments to prohibit those who committed sex crimes against adults and first-degree murder from seeking early release. Both proposed amendments were rejected on party-line votes.

Del. C. Matthew Fariss represents Buckingham in the Virginia House of Delegates. His email address is DelMFariss@house.virginia.gov.