Today is lobby day for our industry.  I’m heading down to the General Assembly to advocate.  I like doing  this every year.  The energy of everyone running around, trying to get appointments in, trying to meet people, trying to educate legislators and their staff on our issues.  This year it’s:

Protect funding for sexual and domestic violence services from further cuts.  In the past year, Virginia cut funding for sexual violence services by 5%, domestic violence services by 8%, and homlessness intervention services by 8%.  We need to protect and preserve these critical services.

2. Support: HB 2422 & SB 1364 – Expand access to Protective Orders for victims of dating violence, stalking, and sexual assault.  Address and name dating violence in the Code of Virginia and allow equal access to court-ordered protection for all victims of certain defined acts of violence and threatening behaviors, to prevent further acts of violence, trespass, or contact.

3.  Support: HB 1757 & SB 1199 – Extend the Address Confidentiality Program within the Office of the Attorney General to make it statewide.

4.  Oppose HB 1420, HB 1421, HB 1430, HB 1934 & HB 2332 – Oppose legislation that threatens acces to safety for any victim of sexual and domestic violence.  Oppose these house bills and preserve access to services for ALL victims of sexual and domestic violence in Virgnia, regardless of their immigration status.

Victims of sexual and domestic violence and their children must be able to access safety, including law enforcement, the courts and protections available through the Violence Against Women Act, without regard to their immigration status.

Support: HB 1476 & SB 1145 – extend limitations period for actions for sexual abuse committed during teh infancy or incapacity of the abused person from two years to 8 years from the time of removal from infancy or incapacity or from the time the cause of action otherwise occurs.

Support HB 1893 – Abduction; provides that any person who, without legal justification or excuse, recruits, entices, solicits, seizes, takes, transport, detains a child under 16 years of age, for the purpose of concubinage or prostitution, is guilty of a Class 2 felony, and that the person who assists or aids in such activity or threatens to do so is guilty of a Class 5 felony, and that the abduction of any person 16 years of age or older for the person of concubinage or prostitution is punishable as a Class 4 felony.  The bill also provides that any person who causes another person to engage in forces labor or services in violation of abduction laws is guilty of a Class 4 felony.

Support HB 1898 – Commercial Sex Acts with Minors; expands teh definition of abduction to include commercial sexual activity involving minors and for purposes of sexual activity with a minor to also include pornography and sexual performances.

Support HB 2440 – Provides for an affirmative defense to the crime of prostitution when the person arrested or charged was induced to engage in prostitution through the use of force, intimidation, or deception by another.  The bill also provides for the expungement of a prostitution charge when the person was induced to engage in prostitution through the use of force, intimidation, or deception by another.