RICHMOND — When Virginians elected a Republican-controlled House of Delegates, they said public safety was one of the biggest concerns they wanted addressed. House Republicans today advanced a package of bills focused on making communities safer for every Virginian, sending the legislation to the Senate for further consideration.
“During their two years in control of the General Assembly, Democrats acted as if police were the enemy and criminals were victims, while victims of crime were ignored. Predictably, violent crime in our cities skyrocketed,” said Speaker Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah.
“Voters are tired of not feeling safe in their own neighborhoods. Working with Attorney General Jason Miyares, our Republican majority has passed multiple bills that will give law enforcement the tools they need to keep our communities safe, and keep dangerous criminals where they belong – behind bars,” Gilbert said.
“Our House Republican team has sent a strong message to the Commonwealth with this session’s public safety legislation. We’ve told police that we have their back and will ensure they have the tools they need to do their job,” added Del. Tony Wilt, R-Rockingham, chair of the House Public Safety Committee.
We told criminals that if they break the law to hurt their fellow Virginians, they’re going to prison for a long time. And we told the public that we heard them, and we’re going to keep working until every Virginian can be safe in their own neighborhoods,” he said.
“The legislation we’ve passed in the first half of this session will, if passed into law, save lives,” said Del. Rob Bell, chair of the House Courts of Justice Committee.
“Our legislation holds fentanyl dealers accountable for the lives they take. Our bills tell the Parole Board that they must at least give prosecutors a chance to be heard before releasing violent offenders. And we put those who ‘swat’ — who falsely summon law enforcement to harass others — that when we catch them, they will go to jail. Republicans can and will make Virginia’s communities safer,” he added.
Bills passed today include the following:
- House Bill 1455 ensures someone who knowingly distributes a substance containing two milligrams or more of fentanyl – a lethal amount – can be charged with attempted murder.
- House Bill 1458 prohibits the conditional release of a geriatric prisoner who committed specific heinous crimes.
- House Bill 1572 prohibits maliciously sending false information via a device related to the imminent threat of a person’s safety that leads to an unnecessary emergency response.
- House Bill 1682 designates a substance containing fentanyl as a weapon of terrorism.
- House Bill 2412 directs the Parole Board to review all petitions for geriatric conditional release on an annual basis and condenses the review that may otherwise require two identical meetings into one meeting.
- House Bill 1673 would expand Virginia’s felony strangulation law to cover defendants who smother their victims.
- House Bill 1897 would make it easier for victims to renew protective orders. The bill also will make it easier for victims to avoid gaps when they do seek renewal.
- House Bill 2398 addresses the issue of sexual extortion and would allow prosecutors to bring felony charges against someone who threatens to release the victims photos on social media to coerce sex.