We have completed the first full week of the General Assembly Session, and committees are now actively engaged in considering bills. To date, I have not had any bills considered before a full committee, though one bill (HB1346) has been sent from subcommittee to the full Courts of Justice committee, by unanimous vote.
Expanding Local Authority
My original bill to permit localities to regulate war memorials and monuments (HB1225) has been criticized by some for reasons that are unrelated to the specific language of my now-amended bill. Unlike other “statue” bills that have been introduced this year, one of which has already been killed in the Senate, my amended proposal is focused exclusively on Confederate monuments. Any criticism that my bill could be used to remove monuments honoring fallen veterans of the United States armed forces from recent wars or conflicts is totally misplaced. My bill also requires a public process to be followed before a locality can remove a monument. This would mean that a local Planning Commission would need to consider any change, and that there would need to be public hearings. Localities would also be permitted, but not required, to conduct a non-binding referendum prior to a vote to remove.
I have two other bills that will provide greater public safety authority to localities. The first is a bill (HB1019) requested by the Governor’s office that will allow localities which issue event permits for demonstrations and major public gatherings to prevent weapons and guns from being carried into such events. This bill has been assigned to the Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee, which is not known to favor restrictions on gun possession. I also filed a bill that would add Charlottesville and Albemarle to a list of specific localities that can prohibit semi-automatic weapons in public places (HB1009). This bill has been also been referred to the Militia, Police, and Public Safety Committee, and could be heard early this week. [Read more…]