February 23, 2010
Senator Robert Hurt
On Tuesday of this past week in Richmond, the General Assembly reached what has become known as Crossover. Crossover simply means the deadline by which the Senate and the House of Delegates each completes action on the bills introduced in the respective chambers. It also represents the traditional half-way mark of the General Assembly Session.
During the 2010 General Assembly Session, it is interesting to note that there have been a total of 2,697 bills and resolutions introduced. At this stage in the 60-day Session, only 403 of the bills have passed both houses and will be headed to the Governor and 843 of the bills have failed. I believe this reflects the fact that our legislative process was well-designed by our Founders to ensure a rigorous path to the passage of any legislation and that the General Assembly generally does a good job in weeding out bad bills.
In addition to the crush of work that comes with rushing to finish the work of each respective house, the hard work of developing a state budget has also begun. The Senate Finance Committee and the House Appropriations Committee have been working since the beginning of the Session to arrive at each house's version of the state budget, and these budget bills will be considered and adopted by the respective bodies next week.
Last week, I reported that legislation that I have introduced that would promote economic development in Virginia and secure the voting rights of our soldiers here and abroad have been met with success this Session. In addition to these bills, I have also introduced several public safety measures that have passed the Senate and are now being considered in the House of Delegates.
As we have seen in recent years, gang crime has risen across the nation and even in places like Southside Virginia. A critical element in fighting gang crime is providing to law enforcement officers as much information as possible about gang membership and gang activity. Senate Bill 486 is a bill that would assist in this effort by requiring juvenile probation officers to provide information to law enforcement officers concerning gang activity that has been derived from interviews with juvenile offenders. Governor McDonnell has made this an initiative for his administration and I have been proud to work with him in getting this legislation adopted.
In addition, I have introduced a series of bills that would assist law enforcement in obtaining information concerning computer crimes committed here in Virginia. With advances in technology, it is as important as ever that law enforcement be able to keep up with increasingly sophisticated criminal enterprises. Three bills I have introduced, Senate Bill 492, Senate Bill 493; and Senate Bill 494 would make it easier for local law enforcement to obtain and use computer records from out of state in local criminal prosecutions. Likewise, these bills would make it easier for out of state law enforcement agencies to obtain computer records from Virginia in criminal prosecutions in other states.
Finally, I have also introduced Senate Bill 495, which would allow prior drunk driving convictions from out of state to be used in prosecutions in Virginia. Under current law, prosecutors have found that prior convictions from other states often cannot be used in prosecuting a drunk driver, and this has led to cases where a person who has been previously convicted numerous times of drunk driving cannot be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. It is my hope that for the safety of all persons on and along our highways that this legislation will be made law.
Again, allow me to thank you for the honor of serving you in Richmond and please remember to keep in touch with our office during the General Assembly Session. Gayle Barts serves as my legislative assistant here in Richmond and we may be reached at Senate of Virginia, General Assembly Building, Post Office Box 396, Richmond, Virginia 23218. Our telephone number is 804.698.7519 and our email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition, Denise Van Valkenburg serves as my legislative assistant in Chatham and she may be reached at our district office at 10 North Main Street, Post Office Box 2, Chatham, Virginia 24531. Our district telephone number is 434.432.4600 and our email address is email@example.com