Friday, February 9, 2018

Legislative Update for February 9th

As we approach the February 13th Crossover Day (the last day to consider legislation in the House of origin) all but a handful of firearm related bills have been heard in committee.  The good news is of those bills heard, all of the bad bills have been defeated.  The bad news is a number of the good bills have died, or been softly killed by carrying them over to next year.  It is rare that a bill carried over survives to actually see the light of day in the following session.  This week, Senate Finance carried over SB48, the Constitutional Carry bill, and SB350, a bill that would extend the expiration date for Concealed Handgun Permits (CHPs) from 5 to 15 years.  The thing is, both were essentially killed because of a supposed "fiscal impact", yet the fees charged for CHPs are only supposed to cover the costs of processing so if you a) no longer need a permit to carry concealed as with Constitutional Carry or b) only have to process once every 15 years instead of 5 years, there is no fiscal impact.

On the positive side, Senate Finance did report to the full Senate SB715, a bill that would allow firefighters and EMTs to carry concealed on the job.  That bill will be on final approval in the Senate next week.

In the House, HB1180, a bill that repeals the statutory prohibition on carrying a gun, pistol, bowie knife, dagger, or other dangerous weapon, without "good and sufficient reason" to a place of worship while a meeting for religious purposes, continues to be passed by for the day.  This is usually a sign that there is a problem, which does not make a lot of sense because the Senate has already passed it's version of the bill, albeit along party lines.  All this bill does is frees churches to make their own decisions on security 24 hours a day, while current law limits options during a service. Word is, Democrats intend to reverse former Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's opinion that self-defense is a "good and sufficient reason" to carry in a church during a regularly scheduled service.  Please contact your Delegate today and urge them to vote for HB1180.  Be sure to explain that this bill does not force churches to allow carry, it only frees them up to make those decisions on their own based on their security needs.

Finally, the small number of bad bills that still remain alive are in House Courts of Justice.  Those bills have not come up for a hearing to date.  The list of bills remaining are below:
  • HB 43 Firearms; reporting when lost or stolen.
  • HB 198 Firearms; removal from persons posing substantial risk, penalties.
  • HB 707 Firearms; allowing access to children, penalty.
  • HB 1327 Pneumatic guns; Class 6 felony to possess on school property, etc.
  • HB 1385 Concealed handguns; disqualifications for permit, adjudications of delinquency.
  • HB 1544 Firearms; possession, etc., following convictions for certain misdemeanor crimes, penalty.
There is a good bill that is also awaiting action in House Courts of Justice:
  • HB 408 Right to keep & bear arms; codifies opinion of Supreme Court of the U.S. in D.C. v. Heller.
VSSA will continue to let members know if your action is needed on any of the above bills.

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