Priority Areas for those interested in sexual or domestic violence related legislation.

1. Protect Funding for Crisis and Safety Services – While it is good news that the adopted budget in the 2012 session does not propose any additional reductions in funding for sexual and domestic violence services, unfortunately the adopted budget uses one-time fund balances to restore $1.2 million in funding for domestic violence services that was at risk due to changes in the administration and availability of TANF funds. These one-time funds will not be available in 2014 or beyond. Thus, the $1.2 million in funding for the core services will be eliminated when this short-term solution is no longer available unless other funds are allocated for these purposes.

2. “Peace Begins at Home” specialized interest license plate – DEFEATED. These bills were continued to 2013 because the required 450 pre-paid applications were not collected. These bills would have authorized the issuance of revenue-sharing special license places bearing the legend: PEACE BEGINS AT HOME to support the programs of the Action Alliance for the prevention of sexual and domestic violence in Virginia. Help us get this passed next year. Sign up to buy a license plate through your local Virginia center or the Action Alliance.

3. Enhance the Prosecution of Strangulation – PASSED! These bills make strangulation a felony in Virginia. The law provides that any person who, without consent, impedes the blood circulation or respiration of another person by knowingly, intentionally and unlawfully applying pressure to the neck, causing wounding or bodily injury is guilty of a Class 6 felony.

4. Improve Virginia’s Response to Sexual Assault on College Campuses – PASSED!
SB 302 (Senator Howell) & HB 965 (Delegate Rob Bell) – These bills require campus police to enter into mutual aid agreements with a local law-enforcement agency or the state police for cooperation in providing assistance with the investigation of deaths and alleged rapes occurring on college campuses. These bills do not mandate any one law enforcement to take the lead over another.
SB 301 (Senator Howell) & HB 969 (Delegate Rob Bell) – These bills add chiefs of campus police located within the jurisdiction to the list of persons the Attorney for the Commonwealth must invite to the annual meeting to establish guidelines for a coordinated response to sexual assault.

5. Strengthen the Enforcement of Federal Firearm Prohibitions for Persons Convicted of Domestic Violence SB 224 (Senator Herring) – DEFEATED – This bill would have created a way to differentiate charges and convictions for assault and battery that involved the use of physical force from convictions for assault and battery that did not involve physical force. This change in law is needed to apply federal firearm prohibitions appropriately to persons convicted of assault and battery of a family or household member due to federal court decision, U.S. v. White, issued in 2010.

Information provided from The Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance. Contact Kristine Hall at 804-377-0335 or for more information.

More reports on tomorrow’s blog…