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Thursday, February 11, 2016

VSSA Legislative Update

As we approach the halfway point of the 2016 Virginia General Assembly, some very important legislation has now passed both houses of the legislature.  In the House of Delegates on Wednesday, the bills that are the vehicle for moving the concealed carry reciprocity/recognition agreement between Governor Terry McAuliffe and the GOP leadership cleared the chamber.  The Senate has also moved all three of its bills tied to the deal. The agreement restores and expands concealed carry reciprocity, requires State Police to be available for voluntary background checks at gun shows, and prohibits individuals under permanent domestic violence protective orders from possessing a firearm under state law.  More importantly, the House bill (HB1163) that is the mechanism for restoring and expanding reciprocity takes the responsibility of approving agreements out of the hands of the Attorney General and puts it in the hands of the State Police.  The Senate bills will be conformed to the House versions when they are taken up by the House.

House Bill 1163, carried by Delegate Michael Webert (R-Fauquier), establishes reciprocity with any state that has a concealed carry permit program.  The legislation also prevents individuals who have had a Virginia permit revoked from having an out-of-state permit recognized in Virginia. The Superintendent of the Virginia State Police has 60 days after the bill becomes effective to enter into reciprocity agreements. House Bill 1163 passed the House 72 to 26.

House Bill 1386, carried by House Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee Chairman Scott Lingamfelter (R-Prince William), requires the Virginia State Police to be available at every gun show to administer voluntary background checks for private sales. The House Appropriations Committee has committed to fully funding this bill in the House budget.  House Bill 1386 passed 96 to 3.

Finally, House Bill 1391, carried by Delegate Murphy (D-Fairfax), prohibits individuals subject to a permanent protective order for a domestic violence offense from possessing a firearms.  This legislation is limited to permanent protective orders granted by judges after a full hearing with the opportunity for representation by counsel, which ensures due process protections for all parties involved.  House Bill 1391 passed 96 to 3.

In other legislative action this week,  HB 1096, Delegate Webet’s bill to overturn McAuliffe's state-agency gun ban passed its second reading and will be voted on today on the House Floor.  Senate Bill 626 passed in the Virginia Senate with bipartisan support on a 32-8 vote. Patroned by state Senator Jill Holtzman Vogel (R-27), SB 626 would allow the petitioner of a protective order to temporarily conceal carry without a permit, thus affording them immediate self-defense options while waiting for their carry permit to be approved. A companion bill, House Bill 766, patroned by Delegate Todd Gilbert (R-15), had already passed the House and is now awaiting action in the Senate Committee for Courts of Justice.  SB 677, Senator Chase’s bill to make the $10 fee that is charged by a Circuit Court Clerk for processing a concealed handgun permit optional.  The bill was reported from the Finance committee and heads to the Senate Floor.

Finally, Senator Tom Garrett's SB178 was reported out of Senate Courts on Wednesday.  SB178 is another bill that would overturn Attorney General Herring's unilateral action to end recognition of concealed carry permits issued by 25 states.  The difference between Senator Garrett's bill and the bills that are part of the McAuliffe Agreement (SB610/HB1163) is SB178 would make the General Assembly, in consultation with the AG's office the entity to determine whether another state's permit requirements meet the standards set by Virginia for recognition of those permits. SB178 now heads to the full Senate.

Regular updates throughout the week are posted on this blog and the VSSA Twitter and Facebook feeds.  The weekly updates are included in the Friday eBullet.  Email alerts are only sent when your action is needed on specific legislation so be sure to check this blog and the VSSA web site regularly for the latest news on the progress of legislation.

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