Senate and House Complete Work on Bills before Deadline
Yesterday The House and Senate met their constitutional deadline, completing all work on their own bills so that they may go to the opposite chamber for approval or rejection.
Yesterday the Senate passed a bill that would allow concealed carry permit holders to keep a handgun in a locked box in their glove compartment. Republican Senator Jill Vogle of Winchester is the bill’s patron.
Vogel: The point isn’t that because of this legislation now more people are gonna have guns in their vehicle. In fact, this is meant to address the issue that people already have a gun in their vehicle. I would argue that it is much safer if that gun is locked away in a glove compartment or some other locked container which, by definition, is not easy to access if it is locked.
Democratic Senator Dave Marsden of Fairfax:
Marsden: What I’m concerned about here is unattended guns in vehicle. I had a gang youth tell me one time he was involved in a very sophisticated professional car theft ring. He said, “Yeah, we steal good cars, we get good guns. About one out of every eight, we get a really good gun. “ Now are those guns taken out and immediately put to use in a crime? No. Do they get on the black market as to where that is eventually a strong possibility of happening? Absolutely.
Democratic Senator Chap Petersen of Fairfax City:
Petersen: I can tell you, we’ve had a lot of gun bills in this legislature the past 10 years since I’ve been in it. This is the one bill where the police chief of my home town contacted me and said, Chap, this is a really bad idea. When my officers approach a vehicle, we need to know that that person does not have a gun within reach that is not out in the open.
Republican Senator Richard Stuart of Westmoreland.
Stuart: [It’s] Perfectly lawful to leave a gun on your dashboard. It’s perfectly lawful to leave a gun on your seat. I think we all benefit from having that ability of the Second Amendment to bear arms. But it certainly is a little bit dangerous to allow that gun to float up and down on the dashboard as you take turns and the gun slides from one side to the other if you have to slam on brakes, or do things like that. It appears to me it is a much safer way to transport that weapon would be to lock that up in a box where the weapon is secure and it’s not gonna to slide around, it’s not gonna discharge accidentally.
Also during yesterday’s session, both the House and Senate passed bills that would create the Trust Women Respect Choice license plate, a response to the Choose Life License plate that was created last year. Money raised by the Choose Life license plate goes to crisis pregnancy centers, groups that many Democrats have said spread misinformation about dangers of abortion. Funds from the Respect Choice plate were to go to Virginia Planned Parenthood, something Republican lawmakers in both houses objected to. The amendment to divert these funds away from Planned Parenthood was defeated in the Senate but approved in the House. Democractic delegate Bob Brink of Arlington patroned the House version of the bill.
Brink: Through its approval of the special license plates the General Assembly has provided a forum for viewpoints on a variety of issues of public policy. Having done so, the Commonwealth is duty-bound to allow other viewpoints on the same subject. A group seeking a revenue-sharing special license plate is required to secure prepaid applications from at least 350 of its supporters with the revenues to be shared with the specified entity. Yesterday, for the first time in the history of Section 126.96.36.199, the House adopted an amendment that would divert the proceeds of the special license plate from the intended beneficiary to another, in this case an empty vessel, a State fund that was established several years ago but has never received a penny of funding. At the same time the animosity toward the intended recipient of these funds is made clear during debate on the amendment. Because we still have a chance to do the right thing, I urge a Yes vote on House bill 1108.
Democratic Senator Janet Howell of Fairfax patroned the Senate version of the bill.
Howell: Planned Parenthood provides healthcare services for approximately 30,000 Virginia women every year. The League for Planned Parenthood has complied with all the objective requirements imposed by code in past practice of the General Assembly. For us to adopt this amendment would be totally, totally unprecedented. Because we already have a pro-life license plate with money going to particular organization, if we do not pass the Trust Women Respect Choice license plate, the Pro-Life license plate is clearly unconstitutional.
The ACLU has threatened to sue the State should the bill not become law as proposed. Planned Parenthood won a similar suit in South Carolina.
Also yesterday the Senate passed a measure that would require insurance companies in Virginia to cover the diagnosis and treatment, including early-intervention treatments, of autistic children between two and six years of age.
And finally, a bill that would require online retailers to collect Virginia’s 4.5 percent sales tax passed the Senate in a 28 to 12 vote. Opponents say the bill would force some Internet retailers here to close while traditional businesses say they cannot compete with online businesses without a level playing field.
Craig Carper, WCVE News, Capitol Square.