Legislative notebook: Officer-involved shooting bills dismissed

Travis Fain
Contact Reportertfain@dailypress.com

A trio of bills from state Sen. Mamie Locke dealing with officer-involved shootings went down one at a time Wednesday in a Senate committee.

"There was absolutely no engagement," Locke said after the meeting." I think minds were made up before I even got there."

One bill would have required police and sheriff's departments to share more information with each other when an officer who has been under investigation applies for a job with different agency. Another would have set up a model state protocol for investigating officer-involved shootings and required new disclosures from commonwealth's attorneys involved in those investigations, and the third would have specifically forbidden officers from seizing recording equipment from law-abiding bystanders.

"What's wrong with transparency," said Locke, D-Hampton.

Del. Marcia "Cia" Price, D-Newport News, carried companion bills on these issues in the House this year. One remained alive Wednesday, but was up in subcommittee early Thursday morning.

Mullin bill passes

Del. Mike Mullin, D-Newport News, got his first bill through the Virginia House of Delegates Wednesday.

House Bill 2067 would put a 48-hour time limit on chiefs of police and sheriffs to report officers who've been convicted of crimes that would affect their certification. They're already required to report officers, and the state is required to decertify them, Mullin's bill just puts a time limit on it.

The bill passed the House 97-2 and heads to the Senate.

GOP votes to strip gov's power

On a party-line vote, House Republicans voted Thursday to strip Virginia's governor of his power to fill a vacant U.S. Senate seat.

House Bill 1696 would have the governor set an election to fill the seat instead. The issue almost came up last year with U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-VA, running for vice president. Had he won Gov. Terry McAuliffe would have appointed a replacement, then there would have been an election this year to fill the remaining time in Kaine's term, then another election in 2018, when Kaine's current 6-year term comes to an end.

McAuliffe has not announced a position on this bill, but his spokesman did note this week that he's not in the habit of reducing executive authority.

Everclear bill clears

By a wide and bipartisan margin, the House approved a measure Thursday that would legalize the sale of Everclear and other clear, tasteless liquors up to 151 proof.

Liquor of similar proofs is legal in Virginia now if it has coloring or flavoring.

The measure passed 83-14. Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed a similar bill last year after college administrators and others complained, saying the clear liquor can be a tool for sexual assault. A five-year sunset was added to the bill this year and the governor has not announced a position on the new bill.

Fain can be reached by phone at 757-525-1759.

Copyright © 2017, The Virginia Gazette
79°