Public Comments for 01/22/2021 Appropriations - Transportation and Public Safety Subcommittee
HB1753 - Va. Law Enforcement Professional Standards Commission Accreditation Grant Fund & Program; created.
Last Name: Williams Locality: Henrico, VA. USA

Please support this bill. As all ways City's, Town's, and Counties' with larger budgets can afford to buy these cameras for their members, However, in the more rule jurisdictions can not afford such a device. Officers that do have cameras can provide a higher level of "Check and Balance" for everyone; the Officer and the Public. I urge everyone to support this bill. Thank You!

Last Name: Bayer Organization: Muhlenberg Lutheran Church Locality: Harriosnburg

As a person of Faith it is my calling to support these areas of concern and I ask you to consider how important these issues are and to vote to approve them!

Last Name: Twyman Locality: Virginia Beach

Please consider putting these bills into effect.

Last Name: Scipio Locality: Orange County,, Locust Grove

In favor of programs to better facilitate the development and progress of my community.

HB1893 - New River Valley Passenger Rail Station Authority; creation of authority in Planning District 4.
Last Name: Campblin Locality: Fairfax

This is a great proposal to help increase mobility options in western/rural virginia.

Last Name: Melvin Organization: Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association Locality: Richmond

Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, on behalf of the members of the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association I would like to take a moment to impart our support for HB1893. We believe this measure will help spur additional tourism to Southwest Virginia, and urge you to support it.

Last Name: Hager-Smith Organization: Town of Blacksburg Locality: Blacksburg

Trying again -- -Mike Barber's code is 983298 -- Can I get into a waiting room?

Last Name: Hager-Smith Organization: Town Locality: Blacksburg

I have no code and can't apparently get on

Last Name: Durkin Organization: Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce Locality: Roanoke

The Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce strongly supports this initiative to increase the prevalence of passenger rail in Virginia's Blue Ridge Region. Passenger rail is one more tool that can be used to alleviate traffic pressures, as well as provide a new link to Amazon HQ2 and Virginia Tech's Innovation Campus in northern Virginia.

Last Name: Plaugher Organization: Virginians for High Speed Rail Locality: Henrico, Virginia

Virginians for High Speed Rail supports this legislation and hopes that it advances.

HB1895 - Fines and costs; accrual of interest, deferral or installment payment agreements.
Last Name: Green Locality: Covington

Chairperson and Members of the Committee, I strongly support HB1895. Thank you.

Last Name: Tharpe Organization: Friends of Guest House Locality: City of Alexandria

How much do you owe for fines/fees? “I owe $2848.” For what? What is your restitution for? “[Owes restitution] for using my parents’ bank account.” How did you restitution impact you? “They told me I have two years to pay it and if I don’t pay it I go back to jail. If I miss a payment, the judge said he will lock me up. It’s hard with the environment right now (COVID-19). I’m a convicted felon trying to get back on my feet and it’s hard to make payments, when I’m trying to figure out how to live on my own and everything else. I don’t think it’s fair because you have to pay interest and even if you’re in jail you still have to pay interest.”

Last Name: Royal Organization: Friends of Guest House Locality: City of Alexandria

How much do you owe for fines/fees? “A little over 600.” For what? What is your restitution for? “Lawyer fees. Court fees. Originally, it was $1600. When I got out, I used my stimulus to pay $1000 of it.” How did you restitution impact you? “Well. It sucked. It wasn’t good, when you’re coming home you don’t have anything. You don’t have a job or car, where I’m from we don’t even have buses. Am I supposed to uber? They expect you to pay it, when you don’t even have a job to pay it. Or have the money to pay for shoes for a job. If it wasn’t for the stimulus, I would probably still owe 1600 to the courts. It’s a terrible feeling, you already took my freedom- it was my fault. I looked at it like I paid my dues, but I have to pay this money to the court. I worked 7 days a week in the jail, almost 10 hours a day but didn’t get paid anything to do that. How did you expect me to pay court fees when I got out.” Jurisdiction Fauquier county

Last Name: Frankel Organization: Friends of Guest House Locality: City of Alexandria

How much fines/fees do you owe? “Approximately $4000, the judge decided to not add interest to my restitution.” For what? “I stole my aunt’s jewelry worth $175 from a pawn shop. My aunt didn’t press charges against me since I was family, but the commonwealth did. She got most of her jewelry back from the pawn shop. My uncle appraised the worth of some of the jewelry and the judge decided that I had to pay approximately $4000 as my restitution.” How did restitution impact you? “I was in disbelief regarding the amount. We should have been able to come to an agreement and it wasn’t fair. She got the jewelries back and I feel awful that I did it, but I can’t take it back. If I didn’t have to pay that money, I would have been able to give my husband the money to pay for the apartment and get my children back from foster care. Knowing that I owe that amount which could be used to do a lot of things, it’s stressful because this is a huge amount for someone who just got out of jail and no income.”

Last Name: Twyman Locality: Virginia Beach

Please consider putting these bills into effect.

Last Name: VICCELLIO Organization: The Fountain Fund Locality: Charlottesville

This is Erika Viccellio with the Fountain Fund and I'm speaking on behalf of HB1895. We provide low interest loans, financial education, credit building and community support to formerly incarcerated people. People come to us once released from incarceration and often to get help with court debt. Most aren't aware they can apply to have interest waived and when they see the process they give up on it. The law was established in 2016 to waive interest while incarcerated and I would submit that the interest that formerly incarcerated people have paid since the law was established would more than cover the one time expense to change the software to automate the process.

Last Name: Longenecker (OES/Supreme Court) Organization: Office of the Executive Secretary (OES) at the Supreme Court of Virginia Locality: Richmond, VA (office)

We have been advised that an amendment is going to be requested by the patron in House Courts this afternoon (1/20). There was an amendment to the bill adopted in the Criminal subcommittee on Friday (1/15) that addressed our concerns with the bill as introduced, and as such, I had not planned to speak to this bill in House Courts. The proposed amendment cannot be implemented without additional resources and a delayed effective date. It appears to us that there will be an impact on already understaffed district court clerks’ offices and a large cost to makes changes to our electronic case management and financial systems required to implement the bill. We will need resources for both district court clerks and for various electronic systems. As it requires an interface, local and regional jails and DOC will likely have costs associated with developing the interface on their end. We will also need a delayed enactment date, but as we have just received the proposed amendment, we have not yet been able to determine the necessary delayed enactment date.

Last Name: Tolbert Organization: The Fountain Fund Locality: Charlottesville

Thank you madam chairwoman and members of this committee. My name is Martez Tolbert I am the client partner Navigator at the Fountain Fund Charlottesville Virginia I am here to testify in support of this bill. All reforms on this bill are important and needed but I am going to focus on the automatic waiver because I personally been through the waiver process, and because of that experiences is why I suggested the change in this bill to delegate Hudson Basically, I used Google to figure it all out!! Yes Google. I also had to call and email a few people to figure out how to get the various forms I needed. It was definitely NOT straight-forward and there was no ONE resource that explained the whole thing. Someone has to be very motivated and have a fair amount of time to figure it out and see it through. First I had to look at the Virginia Code to see what the law is. The statute mentions a Certification form. Then I had to figure out where to get that. And of course the Certification form has to be an original, notarized version! So then I had to call and email the VDOC folks to get a Certification form. The statute says the person "may move" the court to get the interest waived. I then, had to figure out how to do that. Do I literally have to file a motion? Call the clerks office? Eventually with assistance, I got the forms, filled them out, and then had to send them, with a letter, to the courts. I had to send a separate set of forms to each court (Charlottesville City and Albemarle County, fines in both). I had to include a self-addressed, stamped envelope with each set so they would send the notarized form back to me! Now Imagine having to do this process for EVERY Fountain Fund client that comes before me. It would be such a waste of limited resources. As I told the Wall Street Journal when they did a story about this a few months ago. This is a financial burden and nightmare for returning citizens. Thank you again for your time,, and I urge you to vote yes on this bill.

Last Name: Sullivan Locality: Chesterfield

I am a nurse practitioner at The Daily Planet and have witnessed firsthand the disparity in our justice system and the unrealistic and burdensome requirements it places on many folks who are just trying to get better or improve their lives after making mistakes. We make it near impossible at times for this to happen by adding more financial hardships to people already in financial hardship. I highly recommend we make good on our promise to reform the justice system to where it delivers fair and equal justice and actually helps folks themselves reform. This bill is a good start.

Last Name: Kelly Organization: MPAC Locality: Baltimore

CURRENT VIRGINIA LAW prohibits arrest or prosecution of certain drug-related offenses only to an individual who seeks or obtains emergency medical attention for himself or another individual or who is experiencing an overdose when another individual seeks or obtains emergency medical attention for him. HB 1821 expands these protections to include prohibiting arrest and prosecution of other individuals, acting in good faith, who render medical assistance during an overdose. This bill will allow individuals who need assistance with advocating for special services for treatment versus being incarcerated and not getting the help that is needed. The system needs to understand that information and knowledge of resources about overdose awareness is vital to the community at large.

Last Name: Green Locality: Covington

I wholeheartedly agree with this bill. It is difficult for those who are poor to keep up with court fines.

End of Comments