The V Word

Advocating to end sexual and domestic violence


General Assembly

The V Word: Update on bills through the VA General Assembly session for Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault

Today Carol gives an update on what bills are progressing through the Virginia General Assembly that impact survivors of sexual and domestic violence.

Agencies tracking these bills and providing opportunities to engage are:

Virginia Legislative Information System

The Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance 



Virginia General Assembly Report 2012

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…

Reject Immigration-related bills that threaten access to safety for victims of sexual and domestic violence

Special Thanks to supportive of our bills regarding strangulation.

Delegate Charniele Herring:

I want to thank you for the great speech you gave at the General Assembly about the prevalence of sexual and domestic violence in Virginia.  As both the leader of a local center serving central Virginia and a Governing Body member of the Action Alliance, I appreciate the recognition you gave our work and your knowledge of the extent of what we really do.   The staff, boards, volunteers, interns, and members here at RCASA and at the Action Alliance appreciate all that you do as an individual and a delegate to support our work to help support survivors of violence. 

Senator Mark Herring:

I want to thank you for your support of the issues important to those serving survivors of sexual and domestic violence and stalking.  We appreciate your support of the Action Alliance license plate bill that will provide another funding source for our local centers.  Your support of the bills dealing with strangulation and firearms prohibitions related to domestic violence criminal convictions and equal protections for sexual and domestic violence victims is also an important effort for us and the safety of our community. 

Lobby for Sexual and Domestic Violence Services and Funding

2012 Preliminary Legislative Agenda


  1. 1.      Protect funding for core safety and crisis services for victims of sexual and domestic violence.

The Action Alliance will be closely monitoring the state budget process to ensure that funding for core crisis and safety services for victims of domestic and sexual violence is protected from cuts.  Funding for crisis and safety services support emergency shelter and transportation, hotlines, court advocacy, and counseling.

  1. 2.      Establish a “Building Healthy Futures Fund” to support efforts to prevent sexual and domestic violence.  Support legislation to create a special interest license plate, “Peace Begins at Home.”

Virginia’s Sexual and Domestic Violence Advocacy Agencies are engaged in a wide variety of prevention efforts across the state to reduce risk factors and promote healthy communities and relationships and they are struggling to fund those initiatives.  In order to sustain and expand prevention efforts—with the ultimate goal of reducing the incidence and prevalence of both sexual and domestic violence, the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance is launching the Building Healthy Futures Fund.   For more information on the Building Healthy Futures Fund or pre-ordering a “Peace Begins at Home” plate, please visit

  1. 3.      Preserve access to services for ALL victims of sexual and domestic violence in Virginia regardless of immigration status.

The Action Alliance is opposed to any legislation that will hinder the ability of victims of sexual and domestic violence to access services needed to escape and/or address violence because of immigration status, including crisis intervention, emergency transportation, shelter, and advocacy services offered by Sexual and Domestic Violence Agencies.  Victims of domestic violence and sexual assault already face tremendous barriers to reporting and seeking help.  When victims perceive that law enforcement is to be feared rather than trusted, it undercuts community policing and efforts to enhance victim/witness cooperation in criminal investigations and prosecutions to hold perpetrators accountable.  We oppose any legislation that threatens access to safety, including but not limited to, services provided by law enforcement, the courts, crisis services, and protections made available through the Violence Against Women Act.   

  1. 4.      Campus Sexual Assault

The Action Alliance has been closely monitoring the State Crime Commission’s study of House Bill 2490, which relates to law enforcement response to sexual assaults that occur on campus.  Our organization will support legislation that requires notification and collaboration between campuses and communities when there has been a sexual assault reported by a student.  The model legislation we have offered is consistent with the best practices promoted by the Action Alliance and allied partners across the state.

  1. 5.      Protective Orders

In 2011, the Action Alliance served on the Governor’s Domestic Violence Prevention and Response Advisory Board.  Our agency will support legislation, recommended by the Board, that would allow for the extension of “permanent” protective orders issued in the Circuit Court and require Circuit Court clerks to submit protective orders to law enforcement by the end of the business day on which they are issued.

Last year, the General Assembly overhauled Virginia’s civil protective order process to provide equal access and equal protections to victims of stalking, dating violence and sexual assault.  The Action Alliance will continue to monitor all legislation related to civil protective orders to ensure that Virginia’s laws continue to protect all victims of sexual and domestic violence.

  1. 6.      Enhanced Penalties for Strangulation

During the work of the Governor’s Domestic Violence Prevention and Response Advisory Board, there were discussions about the challenges to prosecuting acts of strangulation in Virginia.  As a result, the Governor is introducing legislation that creates an enhanced penalty for acts of strangulation committed against a family or household member.  The Action Alliance has concerns about the narrow application of the legislation (recognizing that strangulation is an act that occurs commonly in dating violence and during a sexual assault).  The Action Alliance will continue to monitor this legislation and advocate that any revisions to the Code protect all victims of sexual and domestic violence.    

For more information contact Kristine Hall or Gena Boyle at 804-377-0335 or email or

Please join The Action Alliance for a breakfast reception on Wednesday, January 25 from 9:30-11:30am in 7 West during our Legislative Advocacy Day!

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