Public Comments for 02/08/2021 Courts of Justice
SB1103 - Virginia Freedom of Information Act; Virginia Parole Board member votes.
No Comments Available
SB1104 - Parole; notice and certification, monthly reports.
No Comments Available
SB1105 - Post-conviction relief; previously admitted scientific evidence, report.
Last Name: Gulley Organization: Grandparents Locality: Clinchco

As a grandmother myself I would know what I would do if they were taking away from me, but I do know my world would be turned upside down The smiles they give you, the hugs, the kisses, melt your heart seeing the look in their eyes when making cookies with granny give you such feeling you can't explain, the love we have for them and to take all of that away will crush them forever.

SB1108 - General district courts; jurisdictional limits.
Last Name: Moyers Organization: Virginia Association of Defense Attorneys Locality: Roanoke

VADA further opposes SB1108 to the extent it eliminates the option in Va. Code § 16.1-107 that allows an insured defendant, in lieu of posting an appeal bond, to provide a letter from the defendant’s insurer setting forth an irrevocable certification that the defendant has coverage sufficient to satisfy the amount of the judgment. This provision, which passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, has been law in this Commonwealth since 2011, the same year the General Assembly raised the jurisdictional limit in GDC from $15,000 to its present $25,000. Strict compliance with this provision is required. Members of the plaintiff’s bar confirm that there has been no history of abuse of this provision. The purpose of the appeal bond is to make sure there is a source of funds with which to satisfy the judgment. An insurer promising irrevocably and in writing to provide coverage to a defendant in an amount sufficient to satisfy the judgment accomplishes that end. There is no reason to eliminate it. Particularly given the increase in litigation in GDC once the jurisdictional limit increases, eliminating the “irrevocable confirmation” option serves no other purpose than to make it more difficult for defendants who have insurance to appeal, without enhancing the rights of plaintiffs to collect on their judgment should they prevail in circuit court. With circuit court being the only opportunity for defendants to take advantage of procedural safeguards such as written discovery, depositions, and their constitutional right to a trial by jury, and with no ability on the part of defendants to remove an action from GDC to circuit court, we should make it easier for litigants to appeal to circuit court, not harder. Such is particularly true for defendants who, under SB1108 in its current form, face the risk of an excess exposure in GDC, thus making access to circuit court and its attendant safeguards all the more critical. Regarding a defendant’s right to trial by jury, the Supreme Court of Virginia has made clear that requiring a litigant to appeal in order to exercise that right is permissible only so long as the appeal can be accomplished via “a reasonable, simple procedure.” Brooks v. Potomac, 149 Va. 427, 141 S.E. 249 (1928). The “irrevocable confirmation” option is such a procedure, and is one which has served Virginians and the court system well for the past ten years. Any attempt to eliminate that option should be rejected. As to any argument that the “irrevocable confirmation” option should be eliminated so that the Code treats all litigants equally, Code § 16.1-107 already waives the bond requirement as to a select group of litigants. For example, no bond is required of a plaintiff in a civil case, unless the defendant has asserted a counterclaim. Also, with limited exceptions, §16.1-107 waives the bond requirement in its entirety for persons who are indigent. SB1108 limits the increase in GDC jurisdiction to actions “for injury to person, regardless of theory, and any action for wrongful death … .” These actions are the very types of actions covered by automobile liability insurance. At bottom, elimination of the “irrevocable confirmation” option in § 16.1-107 appears to be nothing more than a solution in search of a problem. In so doing, it creates more problems than it solves. For these reasons, and those stated in our other comments, we would ask the Committee not to report SB1108.

Last Name: Moyers Organization: Virginia Association of Defense Attorneys Locality: Roanoke

VADA is not opposed in concept to an increase in the jurisdictional limit in GDC. Our concern with SB1108 rests on the fact that it raises the GDC jurisdictional limit to $50,000, while SB1182, as presently under consideration in the House Labor and Committee, raises Virginia’s minimum insurance limits to only $30/60/25. Of additional concern to our members is the timing of the increase in GDC jurisdiction relative to the effective date for the effective date of the liability coverage increase in SB1182. Since GDC’s inception in 1973, the jurisdictional limit for civil cases in GDC always has been equal to or less than Virginia’s minimum limits for automobile liability coverage. Litigants have been able to order their affairs in reliance upon the fact that civil claims in GDC are never going to exceed their available insurance limits, thereby protecting them from the risk of personal or excess exposure. Without any increase in GDC jurisdiction commensurate with an increase in Virginia’s minimum coverage limits, and further marrying an increase in GDC jurisdiction to the same timetable as an increase in Virginia’s minimum coverage, there will be a class of Virginians—primarily those of limited means—who, for the first time ever, face a risk of liability out of their own pocket that previously did not exist. Compounding the harm SB1108 creates, litigants in general district court lack access to important safeguards such as depositions, written discovery, and the ability to exercise their constitutional right to a trial by a jury of their peers to help protect and defend them against this risk. With a flood of new cases to GDC once the jurisdictional limit increases, this harm to defendants is magnified even further. Further, rather than increasing the GDC jurisdictional limit across the board, SB1108, in its current form (lines 52-53), restricts this increase to actions “for injury to person, regardless of theory, and any action for wrongful death … .” These cases are ones that typically arise as the result of motor vehicle accidents. They likewise are ones that typically are covered by insurance. For this reason, too, any increase in the GDC jurisdiction for these cases should be tied to a like increase in Virginia’s minimum coverage limits. Such increase in jurisdiction, too, should be wed to the same timeframe as the increase in coverage. Lastly, subjecting a defendant to a risk of excess exposure in GDC implicates an insurer’s ability under Virginia Code § 38.2-2206(K) to tender its insured’s available coverage and, contingent upon the insured’s cooperating with the plaintiff’s UIM carrier, protect the insured from the risk of a subrogation claim. In its present form, Virginia Code § 8.01-66.1 sets forth the parameters of an insured’s duty to cooperate with the UIM carrier. They include things like answering discovery and attending depositions, neither of which are part of an action in GDC. Without revision to § 8.01-66.1, there will be uncertainty among insurers, plaintiffs, and defendants as to what their respective rights and obligations are under these two statutes. For these reasons, and those stated in our other comments, we would ask the Committee not to report SB1108.

Last Name: Cales Organization: Virginia Association of Defense Attorneys Locality: Chesapeake

SB 1108 Comment submitted by James A. Cales III In light of and in addition to the previous comments, VADA is not opposed in concept to an increase in the jurisdictional limit in GDC. Our concern with this bill rests on the elimination of the option in Va. Code § 16.1-107 allowing an insured defendant, in lieu of posting an appeal bond, to provide a letter from the defendant’s insurer setting forth an irrevocable certification that the defendant has coverage sufficient to satisfy the amount of the judgment. A. Elimination of “irrevocable confirmation” provision in Va. Code § 16.1-107 1. Disparate treatment a. For insured defendants, it is generally their insurer, not the defendants personally, who is responsible for the judgment and for noting and perfecting the appeal. b. Unlike with a single litigant, getting an appeal bond generated and posted by an insurance carrier—and the layers of management, review, etc., that goes along with it—is much more arduous. c. Virginia Code §16.1-107 makes clear that “no appeal bond shall be required of a plaintiff in a civil case” unless the defendant has asserted a counterclaim. Hence, the statute already treats plaintiffs and defendants differently, rendering it easier for plaintiffs to note and perfect an appeal. Eliminating the “irrevocable confirmation” option for defendants enhances this disparity. d. With limited exceptions, §16.1-107 further waives the bond requirement in its entirety for persons who are indigent. 2. In addition, absent an appeal, opening the gates to more cases in GDC is going to deprive a defendant—who, unlike a plaintiff, doesn’t have a choice of forum—of his or her right to trial by jury. Addressing whether a party’s right to a jury trial is unconstitutionally infringed when he or she must appeal in order to exercise that right, the Supreme Court of Virginia, in Brooks v. Potomac, 149 Va. 427, 141 S.E. 249 (1928), held "[t]he fact that the party is not able to obtain [a trial by jury] in the inferior court is not a deprivation of the right of trial by jury, if provision is made whereby it can be secured upon an appeal by a reasonable, simple procedure" (emphasis added). Such a procedure, which has served Virginians and the court system well for the past ten years, is the “irrevocable confirmation” option of Va. Code § 16.1-107. a. Given that the General Assembly passed the “irrevocable confirmation” bill the same year it raised the GDC limit from $15k to $25k, it appears clear that the General Assembly, with increased access to general district court, thought it a good idea to simplify the process for appeal. b. Here, we are aware of no compelling reason why this option should be eliminated. What we would urge would be: restore and leave in place the “irrevocable confirmation” option in Va. Code § 16.1-107. Alternatively, we would ask the Committee to refer SB1108 for consideration relative to the propriety of instituting at least some form of limited discovery that would help assuage for defendants the impact of proceeding forward in GDC without these safeguards in place.

Last Name: Cales Organization: Virginia Association of Defense Attorneys Locality: Chesapeake

SB 1108 Comment submitted by James A Cales III In addition to and in light of the other comments, the VADA is not opposed in concept to an increase in the jurisdictional limit in GDC. Our concern with this bill rests on the elimination of the option in Va. Code § 16.1-107 allowing an insured defendant, in lieu of posting an appeal bond, to provide a letter from the defendant’s insurer setting forth an irrevocable certification that the defendant has coverage sufficient to satisfy the amount of the judgment. A. Elimination of “irrevocable confirmation” provision in Va. Code § 16.1-107 1. Disparate treatment a. For insured defendants, it is generally their insurer, not the defendants personally, who is responsible for the judgment and for noting and perfecting the appeal. b. Unlike with a single litigant, getting an appeal bond generated and posted by an insurance carrier—and the layers of management, review, etc., that goes along with it—is much more arduous. c. Virginia Code §16.1-107 makes clear that “no appeal bond shall be required of a plaintiff in a civil case” unless the defendant has asserted a counterclaim. Hence, the statute already treats plaintiffs and defendants differently, rendering it easier for plaintiffs to note and perfect an appeal. Eliminating the “irrevocable confirmation” option for defendants enhances this disparity. d. With limited exceptions, §16.1-107 further waives the bond requirement in its entirety for persons who are indigent. 2. In addition, absent an appeal, opening the gates to more cases in GDC is going to deprive a defendant—who, unlike a plaintiff, doesn’t have a choice of forum—of his or her right to trial by jury. Addressing whether a party’s right to a jury trial is unconstitutionally infringed when he or she must appeal in order to exercise that right, the Supreme Court of Virginia, in Brooks v. Potomac, 149 Va. 427, 141 S.E. 249 (1928), held "[t]he fact that the party is not able to obtain [a trial by jury] in the inferior court is not a deprivation of the right of trial by jury, if provision is made whereby it can be secured upon an appeal by a reasonable, simple procedure" (emphasis added). Such a procedure, which has served Virginians and the court system well for the past ten years, is the “irrevocable confirmation” option of Va. Code § 16.1-107. a. Given that the General Assembly passed the “irrevocable confirmation” bill the same year it raised the GDC limit from $15k to $25k, it appears clear that the General Assembly, with increased access to general district court, thought it a good idea to simplify the process for appeal. b. Here, we are aware of no compelling reason why this option should be eliminated. What we would urge would be: restore and leave in place the “irrevocable confirmation” option in Va. Code § 16.1-107. Alternatively, we would ask the Committee to refer SB1108 for consideration relative to the propriety of instituting at least some form of limited discovery that would help assuage for defendants the impact of proceeding forward in GDC without these safeguards in place

Last Name: Moyers Organization: Virginia Association of Defense Attorneys Locality: Roanoke

VADA is not opposed in concept to an increase in the jurisdictional limit in GDC. In addition to the other comments we have expressed, our concern with this bill rests on the elimination of the option in Va. Code § 16.1-107 allowing an insured defendant, in lieu of posting an appeal bond, to provide a letter from the defendant’s insurer setting forth an irrevocable certification that the defendant has coverage sufficient to satisfy the amount of the judgment. A. Elimination of “irrevocable confirmation” provision in Va. Code § 16.1-107 1. Allows “a defendant with indemnity coverage through a policy of liability insurance sufficient to satisfy the judgment” rendered in GDC to, in lieu of posting an appeal bond, provide from the defendant’s insurer “a written irrevocable confirmation of coverage in the amount of the judgment.” If defendant's insurer does not provide this confirmation, then the defendant must post a bond. (lines 118-122) 2. This provision has been on the books since 2011 (HB1845), the same year the General Assembly raised the jurisdictional limit in GDC from $15k to its present $25k. a. Introduced by then-Delegate Clifford Athey, now Judge Athey of the Virginia Court of Appeals. b. It passed the House of Delegates 99-0; the Senate, 29-11. 3. No history of abuse of this provision. 4. Strict compliance with the statute has been required. See Damtew v. Jeng, 101 Va. Cir. 89 (Fairfax County 2019) (addressing what constitutes an “irrevocable confirmation of coverage” pursuant to Virginia Code §16.1-107). 5. Purpose of the appeal bond is to make sure there is a source of funds with which to satisfy the judgment. See, e.g., Tauber v. Commonwealth ex rel. Kilgore, 263 Va. 520, 545, 562 S.E.2d 118 (2002) (purpose of appeal bond "is to secure payment of the full judgment amount ... to which a prevailing party is entitled in the event that an appellant does not succeed on appeal"); Greer v. Dillard, 213 Va. 477, 193 S.E.2d 668 (1973) (appeal bonds are "designed to protect the judgment rights of successful litigants"); Mahoney v. Mahoney, 34 Va. App. 63, 67, 537 S.E.2d 626 (2000) ("An appeal bond provides assurances that any judgment that may be rendered on appeal, if perfected, will be satisfied.") a. An insurer promising in writing to provide coverage to a defendant in an amount sufficient to satisfy the judgment accomplishes that end. b. No reason to eliminate it. 6. Particularly given the likelihood that more cases are going to end up in GDC once the jurisdictional limits increase, eliminating the “irrevocable confirmation” option seems to serve no other purpose than to make it more difficult for insured defendants to appeal, without enhancing the rights of plaintiffs to collect on their judgment should they prevail in circuit court. What we would urge, in addition to that set forth in our other written comments, would be: restore and leave in place the “irrevocable confirmation” option in Va. Code § 16.1-107. Alternatively, we would ask the Committee to refer SB1108 for consideration relative to the propriety of instituting at least some form of limited discovery that would help assuage for defendants the impact of proceeding forward in GDC without this safeguard in place.

Last Name: Love, Tate Organization: VADA Locality: Staunton, VA

SB1108 VADA is not opposed in concept to an increase in the jurisdictional limit in GDC. Our concern with this bill rests on the timing of when the increase in limit would go into effect relative to the proposed increase in the minimum automobile liability coverage limits in SB1182.. A. Timing of GDC jurisdictional increase 1. The interplay between this bill and Virginia Code § 38.2-2206 is problematic. a. Presently, liability insurers have the ability to tender an insured’s available coverage and essentially punt the defense of the case to the UIM carrier. b. UIM carrier loses its right of subrogation so long as the insured cooperates with the UIM carrier in the manner provided by statute (Va. Code § 8.01-66.1) (1) To attend his deposition or trial if subpoenaed to appear at least 21 days in advance of either event; (2) To assist in responding to written discovery; (3) To meet with defense counsel for a reasonable period of time after reasonable notice, by phone or in person, within 21 days of being served with any lawsuit and again prior to his deposition and trial; or (4) To notify counsel for the underinsured motorist benefits insurer of any change in address. c. By speaking to the insured’s cooperating in attending depositions or responding to discovery, Va. Code § 38.2-2206 and Va. Code § 8.01-66.1 expressly contemplate actions in circuit court where such discovery exists. d. For defendants facing a potential $50,000.00 exposure in GDC who have only $25/50 limits, there is a risk that their insurer will tender the insured’s available coverage, requiring a UIM insurer to step in and essentially take over the defense. The cooperation required of the insured is effectively diluted at that point, as there are no depositions or written discovery permitted in GDC. e. If the increase in the GDC jurisdictional limit was tied to the increase in mandatory minimum coverage, this problem would not exist. 2. In its original form, SB1108 increased the GDC jurisdictional limit for all cases subject to GDC jurisdiction. In its current form (lines 52-53), the bill restricts this increase to actions “for injury to person, regardless of theory, and any action for wrongful death … .” These cases are the ones that typically are covered by insurance. They also are the cases that typically arise as the result of motor vehicle accidents. This being the case, any increase in the jurisdictional limit for GDC should be tied to an increase in the limits for automobile liability coverage. a. It leaves personal property claims subject to the existing $25k limit (lines 46-47). What we would urge would be tie the increase in the GDC jurisdictional limit to the same timeframe as the increase in minimum insurance coverage limits.. Alternatively, we would ask the Committee to refer SB1108 for consideration relative to the propriety of instituting at least some form of limited discovery that would help assuage for defendants the impact of proceeding forward in GDC without these safeguards in place.

Last Name: O'Grady Organization: Virginia Association of Defense Attorneys Locality: Chesterfield

SB1108 VADA is not opposed in concept to an increase in the jurisdictional limit in GDC. Our concern with this bill rests on the timing of when the increase in limit would go into effect relative to the proposed increase in the minimum automobile liability coverage limits in SB1182. A. Timing of GDC jurisdictional increase 1. Ever since GDC was created in 1973, the jurisdictional limit for civil cases in GDC has always been less than or equal to minimum limits for automobile liability coverage. a. liability limits have been $25/50 since 1974 b. GDC jurisdiction since 1974: (1) $10k (1974-1997) (2) $15k (1997-2011) (3) $25k (2011-present) 2. Litigants have been able to order their affairs in reliance upon the fact that civil claims in GDC are never going to exceed the insurance coverage they bought and paid for. 3. In its present form, SB1108 increases the GDC limit to $50k immediately upon the bill’s passing the General Assembly and being signed by the Governor. If this bill becomes law, there is a high likelihood, if not an absolute certainty, that plaintiffs with a civil claim pending in GDC will seek leave to amend the amount of their claim to the new jurisdictional maximum of $50k. a. Fairness concern for defendants with existing $25/50/20 policies who suddenly face the risk of personal exposure. (1) Disproportionately affects those of lesser means who are unable to afford more than a minimum limits policy b. This concern is enhanced by virtue of the fact that a defendant, unlike in circuit court, has essentially no ability to take discovery as to the issues presented in the case. c. While there is pending a separate bill (SB1182) to increase the minimum coverage limits to $50/100/40, it doesn’t take effect until January 1, 2022, and then only as to policies issued on or after that date. (1) Thus, this negative effect of the bill will persist for an entire class of litigants whose policies were issued and remain in effect at the lesser minimum limits. What we would urge would be tie the increase in the GDC jurisdictional limit to the same timeframe as the increase in minimum insurance coverage limits.. Alternatively, we would ask the Committee to refer SB1108 for consideration relative to the propriety of instituting at least some form of limited discovery that would help assuage for defendants the impact of proceeding forward in GDC without these safeguards in place.

SB1113 - Communicating threats of death or bodily injury to a person with intent to intimidate; penalty.
No Comments Available
SB1122 - Habitual offenders; repeals remaining provisions of Habitual Offender Act.
No Comments Available
SB1123 - Will contest; presumption of undue influence.
Last Name: McCullough Organization: Virginia Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (VAELA) Locality: Spotsylvania

Consistent with our memorandum, previously circulated to all members of the House Courts of Justice Committee, the Virginia Academy of Elder Law Attorneys opposes this bill. We believe that SB1123, if passed, would undermine the deference historically given to testators' wishes as stated in their Wills and that it would do more to encourage litigation than it would to protect the elderly. Rather than benefiting the vulnerable elderly, this proposed law would make it more difficult for testators to make Wills that distribute their property in any fashion other than what would otherwise occur without a Will. For example, it is fairly common for parents to "pay" caretaker children for their uncompensated work by leaving them a disproportionate share of the estate, and this law would call these longstanding family arrangements into question. Our clients very often voice concerns related to making sure that their wills do not get challenged in court, and this proposed law could make their fears a reality. For these reasons and for the reasons stated in our memorandum, we respectfully request that this committee vote "No" on SB1123.

SB1125 - Parole Board; notice of parole of prisoner to victim.
No Comments Available
SB1138 - Sexually transmitted infections; infected sexual battery, penalty.
Last Name: Warbelow Organization: Human Rights Campaign Locality: Richmond

Re: SUPPORT for SB 1138, Testimony from the Human Rights Campaign in support of the bill to modernize existing HIV-specific state laws Dear Chair Herring and Members of the Committee, On behalf of its more than three million members and supporters nationwide, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) thanks you for the opportunity to submit testimony on SB 1138, an important measure that would modernize Virginia’s existing HIV-specific laws and help advance public health efforts to end the HIV epidemic. HRC is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBTQ people, including those impacted by HIV, and realize a world that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all. Virginia’s existing HIV-specific criminal statutes unjustly target and punish people living with HIV (PLWH). These provisions are based on long-outdated and inaccurate beliefs about HIV risks and transmission, and do not reflect present-day realities—realities like the fact that PLWH who achieve an undetectable viral load through modern treatment cannot transmit the virus to their sexual partners. What’s more, Virginia’s current HIV-specific laws do not account for other effective HIV prevention measures like condom and pre-exposure prophylaxis use; make no distinction between high-risk, low-risk, and risk-free consensual conduct; and criminalizes PLWH without regard to actual transmission. HIV-specific criminal laws like those currently in force in Virginia are a serious threat to public health. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HIV-specific criminal laws "have been shown to discourage HIV testing, increase stigma, and exacerbate disparities.”They undermine efforts to reduce new HIV infections by increasing the already prevalent stigma against PLWH—a stigma that drives many to not get tested or refrain from seeking appropriate treatment, thereby increasing the risks and rates of transmission. Additionally, these laws spread and legitimize patently inaccurate beliefs about HIV risks and transmission, further amplifying the stigma and marginalization of PLWH. Since these laws target people who know their HIV status, they disincentivize getting tested by privileging ignorance of one’s HIV status and punishing responsible behavior. SB 1138 would help support state public health efforts to end the HIV epidemic by repealing HIV-specific criminal laws that unjustly target and punish PLWH. This would represent a major step forward in decreasing the harmful stigma surrounding HIV, encouraging an accurate understanding of HIV risks and transmission, and supporting efforts to increase HIV testing and treatment as prevention. I strongly urge you to vote in favor of SB 1138. Sarah Warbelow Legal Director, Human Rights Campaign

Last Name: Pulliam Organization: ECHO VA Coalition Locality: Woodbridge

Dear Chairman Herring and Members of the House Courts of Justice Committee, Our names are Cedric Pulliam and Deirdre Johnson and we are writing to you today on behalf of the ECHO VA Coalition to address HIV criminalization in Virginia. We are asking you to support Senate Bill 1138. We are in full support of Senate Bill 1138 because this bill ensures the Virginia Code reflects the current scientific understanding of HIV, and promotes public health by alleviating the stigma and mistrust of health institutions that limit the usage of testing and treatment services. I have lived and advocated for people living with HIV for 20 years. The biggest barrier has been getting people to feel comfortable to trust the systems currently in place to get tested and seek treatment for HIV. The fear and stigma of being punished for knowing your HIV status has created a juxtaposition between engaging in the basic human right of being loved and getting tested or seeking the care we need. To some it may be a simple choice, but for many of us living with HIV it is not that easy. No one should face criminal charges for living with a disease, especially not HIV. The Centers for Disease Control has made it very clear that HIV Criminalization works against public health. The time is now for Virginia to have our laws reflect our state slogan...Virginia is for Lovers, and by passing SB1138, that includes people living with HIV or at a perceived risk for HIV. - Co-Founder, Deirdre Johnson As a clinical health psychologist, public health, and medical professional who has worked in HIV since 2008 I have seen the advancement of HIV science grow exponentially in 13 years. The mere fact that these laws was a mandate in order for states to receive funding under the Ryan White Care Act as a protection because of the lack of scientific research and evidence on HIV transmission, treatment, and services showcases that in 2021 the time has come for the Commonwealth of Virginia to right our wrong that was enacted in 1997 (24 years ago) to Virginians living with HIV and pass SB1138. Federal government agencies have called upon state legislatures to modernize or repeal these HIV criminalization laws because data showcases the negative impact they have caused on HIV prevention, treatment, and care services and in order to end the HIV epidemic state’s must eliminate laws such as infected sexual battery law. The unwavering message is clear that scientific advancement has brought us to understand that a person taking HIV treatment regularly can attain an undetectable viral load, which means they cannot transmit HIV to any partner. Advancements like this should be considered by state legislators such as each Senator of this committee. Additionally, we also know that over 25,000 Virginians are living with HIV and they should have an equitable lifestyle both personally and sexually just as any other person should. We also know that laws like this showcase systemic racial inequities towards Black and Latino persons. As a public health professional, I know that the infected sexual battery law creates a higher rate of mistrust of health professionals, medical mistrust, stigma and discrimination towards people living with HIV, and does not align with the HIV medicine and science of 2021. - Co-Founder, Cedric Pulliam

Last Name: Barbarin Organization: PWN-USA Locality: NEW ORLEANS

I am writing on behalf of the Positive Women’s Network-USA (PWN) in support of SB1138. PWN is the only nationwide membership organization comprised of women and people of transgender experience living with HIV. Our work is grounded in social justice and human rights, and we explicitly apply a racial justice and gender justice lens to address the multifarious barriers women living with HIV face in all aspects of our lives. PWN members are actively engaged in HIV modernization efforts in states around the nation, including Virginia. Any campaign that seeks to change HIV-specific laws must meaningfully include people living with HIV, and this is especially true for efforts to address HIV criminalization laws. It is the lives, rights, and safety of people living with HIV that will be most impacted by any modernization effort. The domestic HIV epidemic remains a significant public health issue, one that has disproportionality impacted Black, Indigenous and other communities of color (BIPOC), LGBTQ people, people who use drugs, and sex workers. In Virginia, despite only making up 19.5 percent of the population, Black people make up 58 percent of persons living with HIV. It is abundantly clear who bears the brunt of the HIV epidemic in Virginia—an epidemic that cannot be ended via criminalization. Laws that criminalize people living with HIV disproportionately impact women, especially Black and other women of color, women who are sex workers and women of trans experience. They are also disproportionately enforced against Black people living with HIV. A recent study in Georgia showed that Black men and women are significantly more likely to be arrested for HIV-related offenses than their white counterparts, and Black men are nearly twice as likely to be convicted than white men. Virginia’s HIV criminalization statute, works against public health and the public interest. HIV criminalization laws disincentive HIV testing by subjecting those who know their status to the ever-present threat of arrest and criminal prosecution. They create mistrust of, and alienation from, public health institutions and put people living with HIV at heightened risk of violence from intimate partners. The law reflects on outdated and mistaken understanding of HIV. It fails to reflect the current landscape of HIV prevention and treatment by including conduct that does not pose a risk of HIV transmission such as spitting. The law fuels continued stigma, misinformation, and discrimination against people living with HIV. It is well past time to modernize the Virginia code to better reflect our current understanding of transmission of HIV and quality of life for people living with HIV. SB1138 modernizes the commonwealth’s HIV criminalization law that targets a specific population, that perpetuates the stigma and barriers to healthcare that the population experiences, and that constitutes both a human rights violation and a prevention of effective public health. By voting to support SB1138 the Virginia House Courts of Justice Committee's Criminal Subcommittee signals its support for people living with HIV to live life free from shame, stigma and fear of how they may be unfairly punished based on their status. It is with this background that we urge you to vote “yes” on SB1138.

Last Name: Porter Locality: Richmond

Members of the Committee for Courts of Justice, The de-criminalization of HIV, represented in SB1138, is a critical preventive strategy to ending the HIV epidemic. Because criminal liability generally only applies to those who know their positive status, and can therefore be held morally responsible, it is incapable of being an effective prevention tool against transmission in this context. (Conversely, although there is relatively little empirical evidence to suggest that people are dissuaded from testing as a result of criminalization, there is the possibility that people may assume that PLHA will necessarily disclose their status or insist on safer sex (in order to avoid liability), when this may not be the case, thus creating a false sense of security.) Secondly, overly broad criminalization reproduces and reinforces negative stereotypes about PLHA through (frequently inaccurate and sensationalist) press coverage of trials and convictions. This contributes to the stigma associated with HIV, which in turn creates obstacles to prevention and treatment and undermines the right of PLHA to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health and wellbeing. Sexual health physicians, nurses, and advisers may feel conflicted—to the detriment of their patients, their own professional identity, and public health more generally—if they feel obliged to raise the question of criminalization with those have been diagnosed positive, and there is the risk that the relationship of trust critical to patient care is compromised. In the era of biomedical interventions that can suppress an individual’s viral load, that is the number of copies of HIV virus in single mL/blood, to such small quantities it can no longer be detected in standard diagnostics; achieving viral suppression through antiretroviral treatment adherence means HIV can no longer be sexually transmitted, making early diagnosis and access to treatment a powerful weapon in the fight against further infection. A willingness to get tested, to initiate treatment and adhere to prophylaxis, or cope with unique challenges facing communities at-risk of HIV, depend on public health efforts to reduce stigma. Stigma has the power to undermine any progress made in ending the HIV epidemic and reducing stigma to improve HIV prevention, treatment and care is an integral part of public health practice; be it advocating HIV testing or adherence to treatment as prevention, measures to control the burden of HIV depend on governing bodies to intervene on behalf of the most vulnerable and stimulate the development of stigma reduction interventions. SB1138 boldly answers this call to action by identifying section of the code that reference the criminalization of HIV and STI exposure, infection, and transmissibility, and the ethical and empirical implications of counterproductivity in public health and health policy. Accepting SB1183 into law strengthens capabilities for addressing critical health issues by removing unjustifiable limits on public health practice and any references that empower stigma and reduce the capacity for public health to work with diverse communities to improve population health outcomes for all of the Commonwealth.

SB1142 - Marriage; persons who may celebrate rites, authorizes current members of the General Assembly.
No Comments Available
SB1165 - Death penalty; abolition of current penalty.
Last Name: weaver Locality: floyd

the death penalty should not be allowed you need to be punished by jail not death if someone wanted to die they could just kill someone and get a death penalty death isn't that much of a punishment but jail make you sit and think about what you did

SB1168 - "Abused or neglected child;" definition.
Last Name: Neil Organization: City of Portsmouth Locality: Hampton

We support. Please see prior submitted testimony. Thank you

Last Name: Sherri Organization: City of Portsmouth, VA Locality: Hampton

The City of Portsmouth thanks Senator Lucas for sponsoring this bill. The problematic definitional differences in two subsections of the VA Code (VA Code Section 16.1-228 and VA Code Section 63.2-100), came to light when one of our Assistant City Attorney's encountered a problem during a court hearing. The definition in Subsection 4 of VA Code Section 16.1-228 and 63.2-100 are different. The verbiage in Subsection 4 of VA Code 63.2-100 regarding 'sexual exploitation' is more expansive than the verbiage used in the same Subsection of VA Code Section 16.1-228. Also, Subsection 2 of VA Code Section 63.2-100 is different from the definition in Subsection 2 of VA Code Section 16.1-228 regarding how to consider the actions of a parent or person responsible for providing health care for an abused and neglected child. For judicial interpretation purposes, a definition does not apply if it is not referenced. SB1168 seeks to align the definitions of these two VA Code Subsections, which will also strengthen those definitions in VA Code Section 16.1-228. We thank you in advance for your support of this legislation.

Last Name: Neil Organization: City of Portsmouth Locality: Hampton

Previous testimony submitted in support of this bill. I also signed up to speak but have not received a link to connect to the meeting.

Last Name: Riddick Organization: Office of Portsmouth City Attorney Locality: City of Portsmouth

The Portsmouth City Attorneys Office ask that you support this bill because this bill makes the definition of abused or neglected child found in title 16.1 -228 consistent with the definition of abused or neglected child found in title 63.2 -100 of the Code of Virginia. The definition of an abused or neglected child should be consistent in the code of Virginia for investigation purposes and for initiating court actions in child welfare proceedings.

Last Name: Neil Organization: City of Portsmouth Locality: Hampton

SB 1168 - Patron -Senator Lucas - Please Support! The crux of the matter is the difference in the definitions in Subsection 4 of VA Code Section 16.1-228 and VA Code Section 63.2-100. Also, Subsection 2 of VA Code Section 63.2-100 is different from the definition in Subsection 2 of VA Code Section 16.1-228 regarding how to consider the actions of a parent or person responsible for providing health care for an abused and neglected child. These inconsistencies in the definitions were brought to our attention by one of the City's Assistant City Attorneys, Ms. Riddick, after she encountered this misalignment in the Code of Virginia while dealing with a matter before the court. For judicial interpretation purposes a definition does not apply unless it is referenced. Hence, there exists a need to align these two VA Code Sections. This bill does not create new language in either Code Section, just adds the existing definitions in Subsections 2 and 4 of VA Code Section 63.2-100 to Subsections 2 and 4 of VA Code Section 16.1-228. I shared my research on this matter with the Virginia Crime Commission who examined the matter and agreed with my findings. They also shared the issues with the Virginia Department of Social Services, who also examined the matter, and agreed with our observations. In conclusion, we collectively agree as to how this oversight may have occurred. From a legislative staff perspective, it probably occurred because a Code Section 63.2 bill would have gone through Courts (maybe General Laws, but most likely Courts) so it would not have occurred to the patron, committee members or drafter to kept the two definitions parallel when they were amending the definitional sections in VA Code Sections in 63.2 The VA Code Section in 63.2 is a little bit 'looser' which is okay in the civil context and for DSS matters. But the VA Code Section 16.1 is definition is more likely to come into play with a criminal charge, and hence the verbiage needs to be more precise. What is 'exploitation?' Is it defined anywhere else in VA Code Sections 18.2 or 26.1? It appears they have been different regarding the term 'exploitation' as far back as a search through the portal would allow. As far as we are aware, there is no substantive reason as to why 'exploitation' appears in VA Code Section 63.2-100, but not in 16.1-228. This bill passed unanimously through Senate Courts and the full Senate, and we hope that this measure will be met with the same levels of support in the House of Delegates. Thank you

Last Name: Neil Organization: City of Portsmouth Locality: Hampton

On behalf of the City of Portsmouth, we thank Senator Lucas for her patronage of this bill. The crux of the matter is the difference in the definitions in Subsection 4 of VA Code Section 16.1-228 and VA Code Section 63.2-100. Also, Subsection 2 of VA Code Section 63.2-100 is different from the definition in Subsection 2 of VA Code Section 16.1-228 regarding how to consider the actions of a parent or person responsible for providing health care for an abused and neglected child. These inconsistencies in the definitions was brought to our attention by one of the City's Assistant City Attorneys, Ms. Riddick, after she encountered this misalignment in the Code of Virginia while dealing with a matter before the court. For judicial interpretation purposes a definition does not apply unless it is referenced. Hence, there exists a need to align these two VA Code Sections. This bill does not create new language in either Code Section, just adds the existing definitions in Subsections 2 and 4 of VA Code Section 63.2-100 to Subsections 2 and 4 of VA Code Section 16.1-228. This bill passed unanimously through Senate Courts and the full Senate. We ask that you also please support this bill. Thank you

SB1180 - Civil actions; actions filed on behalf of multiple similarly situated persons.
Last Name: Gilbride Organization: Public Justice Locality: Washington, DC

I am a senior attorney at Public Justice, a nonprofit legal advocacy organization with a project focused on providing access to the civil justice system for people who are harmed by governmental abuses or corporate misconduct. One of the most effective ways for wronged individuals to obtain justice is to band together in a class action, or through joinder or consolidation of their claims in a single judicial proceeding. Such consolidation of similar claims reduces the burdens of litigation on all parties, including the court system. Class actions are already available in federal court in Virginia and in the vast majority of other states. SB1180 would ensure the due process rights of all involved by modeling its procedures on Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23, which only allows cases to proceed on a class action basis if the judge finds that doing so would be superior to individual separate lawsuits. The citizens of Virginia deserve to have the option of banding together and taking advantage of economies of scale in pursuing litigation, under appropriate circumstances, just like the citizens in 48 of the other 49 states in this country can already do. Public Justice urges a yes vote on SB1180.

Last Name: Speer Organization: Virginia Poverty Law Center Locality: Richmond

Virginia and Mississippi are the only states in the country that do not allow class action lawsuits in state court. Virginians are deprived of their right to use the courts to seek relief for a violation of their rights if the cost of litigation exceeds the potential benefit. Claims that are too small to cover the cost of litigation will not be pursued in court. Class actions are a means of private enforcement of the law. Increased enforcement, in turn, creates improved incentives for companies to comply with the law and take the appropriate degree of care. Class action level the playing field for low-income Virginians who seek access to justice.

Last Name: Jenkins Organization: Virginia Loggers Association` Locality: Goochland

Most important for small business and family - owned businesses are the unintended consequences and potential for unbearable costs. The small business and family - owned business owners cannot afford to handle the escalated costs involved with class action suits. We hope you will vote NO to SB 1180. · Virginia courts are not set up for these types of cases. o Class action lawsuits are long and complicated, and require judges to dedicate time and staff attention to managing these cases. o Virginia’s circuit courts are already backlogged, and these cases will exacerbate the problem. o Virginia’s circuit court judges also do not have the staffing to be able to handle massive class actions. o Federal judges have law clerks and staff to be able to manage these complex cases. · Virginia lacks important procedural tools for managing these types of complex cases. o Virginia lacks an effective motion for summary judgment to deal with these types of cases. o Every other state and the federal system allow for depositions to be used to support a motion for summary judgment. Virginia does not. o This quirk in Virginia law could require cases to continue for longer than is appropriate. · Class actions do a bad job of delivering relief to injured parties. o Proponents say we need to change the law to allow injured parties to band together and bring a suit for efficiency’s sake. o The actual goal is to allow for plaintiffs to sue on behalf of other unknown “John Doe” plaintiffs. o Injured parties often do not receive meaningful relief from a class action brought on their behalf. · The legislation does not address the major problem of coupon settlements. o In a coupon settlement, consumers get a coupon for an extended warranty or a discount on a future purchase, but the plaintiff’s lawyers get millions.

Last Name: Medford Organization: Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce Locality: Tysons

My name is Clayton Medford and I am writing on behalf of the Northern Virginia Chamber’s 700 members and close to 500,000 employees to ask you direct the Supreme Court to study how Virginia courts can effectively begin allowing class action lawsuits. We understand that class action suits are coming to Virginia but we ask that we take the necessary steps now to study the issue and do it right to prevent as many unforeseen negative consequences on the business community as possible. Thank you.

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

The Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce is concerned with SB 1180 and would ask that committee members vote against this bill. Class action lawsuits are complex and Virginia courts are not currently situated to handle them, which will end up overburdening already strained state courts due to increased litigation. This is an issue best served through the Federal judicial system.

SB1181 - Special immigrant juvenile status; jurisdiction.
Last Name: Cruz Locality: Fluvanna

Support for SB1181

Last Name: Casey Locality: Henrico

As a longtime legal advocate, a former Assistant US Attorney, and a current law professor, I strongly encourage you to support SB1181 (Surovell), which would ensure that immigrant children in Virginia are able to access the full protection of Special Immigrant Juvenile Status. Unaccompanied, undocumented minor children fleeing violence in South and Central America are being placed in Virginia, making our Commonwealth their new home. Some of these children qualify for “special immigrant juvenile status” (SIJS) – an immigration status conferred by the federal government if the state court makes certain factual findings. These state court proceedings are necessary for these children’s cases to move forward. However, with no constitutional right to an attorney, many of these children face these proceedings, and possible deportation, all alone. Nevertheless, receiving SIJS protection often means the difference between life and death for many of these children. According to federal law, a child may apply for SIJS protection prior to turning 21, as long as they can provide the state court’s determination that they had been abused, abandoned, or neglected in their home country. Unfortunately, Virginia’s current law does not mirror the federal provisions, as our Juvenile and Domestic Relations (JDR) Courts only have jurisdiction to conduct this fact-finding until a child reaches the age of 18. This cruel mismatch results in young immigrants who did not receive these crucial findings before they turn 18 being forever closed off to SIJS protection. Even for children who had filed petitions in JDR Court prior to turning 18 – if the determinations are not made in time, they have lost what may be their only chance at safety and stability here in Virginia. Immigrant children are right now caught within the fractures of where federal law and state law do not meet, through no fault of their own. Curing this fracture, i.e., providing JDR courts with the ability to issue these findings until a young person is 21 years old, is a virtually cost-free, minimum-hassle solution with a potentially life-saving impact. Please support SB1181 so that our legal system is a more just system for immigrant children in Virginia. Tara Louise Casey Professor of Law, Legal Practice Director, Carrico Center for Pro Bono & Public Service University of Richmond School of Law

Last Name: McConnell Organization: University of Richmond School of Law Locality: City of Richmond

The Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) process involves a mix of both state and federal determinations to find an immigrant child who has escaped abuse, neglect, or abandonment in her home country eligible to remain in the United States and seek permanent residency. The first part of the process requires J&DR courts to make factual findings regarding the child’s situation to determine what would be in their best interests. If the court believes it would not be in the child’s best interests to return to their home country, they can issue an order in support of the child’s SIJS application, which is then argued in the Immigration Court. Many young people and their caregivers are not aware that they must first request factual findings in state J&DR courts before the child can be granted SIJS by the federal government and don’t have access to attorneys to advise them. I handle these cases on a pro bono basis in my clinic at the University of Richmond, but not everyone has counsel. Many have experienced detention at the border or have been separated from family, which further delays seeking appropriate relief. A significant problem can then arise when the federal government rejects an SIJS application after the child turns eighteen and the JDR court loses jurisdiction. Also, attorneys often are not willing to take cases too close to the 18th birthday, because the attorney feels it is unlikely that factual findings will be determined before the child turns eighteen. SB 1181 can help protect these vulnerable, immigrant children who are at risk of being returned to harmful, dangerous, and unstable situations in their home countries. I have represented many children who have escaped unspeakable horrors. This will allow the courts to retain jurisdiction to make factual findings that enable a child to apply for SIJS until the child is 21. Importantly, this bill is limited to situations where the child has previously been in the JDR court prior to the child’s eighteenth birthday. It has always been challenging to get these cases heard before children age out of juvenile court jurisdiction, but everything has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic which has caused extensive delays in accessing the court for these proceedings. SB1181 proposes to allow the J&DR courts to retain jurisdiction over these children until they reach the age of twenty-one so that children who are closely approaching eighteen when they file for SIJS are not barred from having a judge make these determinations simply because they could not get a hearing before their eighteenth birthday. SB 1181 does not require or permit J&DR courts to provide immigration status of any kind. The J&DR courts only needs to use their expertise in determining the best interests of the child to make factual findings about the child’s situation. The factual findings from J&DR are submitted along with the child’s SIJS application to the immigration court. SB 1181 is not only critical to protect young people from being removed from a stable and safe living environment, but it is consistent with practices that already exist in Virginia courts and with the federal government’s definition and treatment of a child. Thank you for your consideration. This change could make a significant difference in the lives of these vulnerable children. Prof. Julie McConnell University of Richmond School of Law

SB1184 - Standby guardianship; triggering event.
No Comments Available
SB1206 - Confidentiality of juvenile court records; exceptions.
Last Name: Bilchik Organization: Georgetown Univ., McCourt School of Public Policy, Center for Juvenile Justice Reform Locality: Washington DC

The focus of my testimony today is on youth that are currently involved with the child welfare system, as victims of abuse and neglect, that have also become involved with the juvenile justice system. These youth often go undetected as dually-involved by the agencies serving them due to the lack of communication between them, and as a result are often the subject of court orders and recipient of services that are not well coordinated, often duplicative, and at times inconsistent. Consequently, these youth, victimized by the traumatic experiences in their lives are often re-traumatized by the systems with the responsibility to rehabilitate, support, and assist them. In order to improve how we serve these youth and improve their outcomes, these systems must better coordinate and collaborate in their assessment, case planning and case management. The initial challenge faced by many jurisdictions in doing so is the lack of integrated data systems, which limits the juvenile justice system from learning of a youth’s involvement with the child welfare system at the time of intake. Conversely, if a youth is involved with the child welfare system, the juvenile justice agency may be unaware of the open case. This lack of information sharing presents a challenge in that while each of these agencies may be working with the same youth and families, they are blinded to that fact. The absence of communication creates instances where families are being provided the same services by multiple providers, are participating in multiple, overlapping case planning meetings with various agencies, are requested to appear at multiple, uncoordinated hearings across the dependency and delinquency court dockets, and are responding to the demands of various government agencies (or their contracted providers), in circumstances in which their failure to cooperate could have a negative life-long impact on their family. The end result is that families and their children often have a chaotic and less than fully coherent experience with the systems that are supposed to assist them. The information sharing being proposed in this bill will allow the names of youth to be shared at the onset of the case in the “second” system. The information shared will only be used for case planning and coordination of services. While there is also a need for aggregate data analysis designed to improve system level performance, it is my understanding that this much-needed legislative change may be addressed in the future. It is my belief that the implementation of this bill will be done with safeguards to protect the privacy interests of the youth and families in this dually-involved population and ensure appropriate and limited utilization of the information. The goal is not to simply widen the universe of people that have access to this information, but to ensure that on a need to know basis collaborative assessment, planning and ongoing case management for these youth takes place in a routinized manner. As demonstrated in other jurisdictions across the country, this has resulted in decreases in detention utilization for youth in foster care, increases in the number of youth in foster care being appropriately diverted from formal justice system involvement, increases in youth/family engagement, and most importantly improvement in population level outcomes (behavioral health, education, positive youth development, and recidivism). Professor Shay Bilchik, Georgetown University

Last Name: Brown Organization: Alexandria City Locality: Fairfax

Family Impact Statement SB1206 Good Morning, as a Grandma that raised her Grandchildren in non-formal kinship care here in Virginia, I am speaking on behalf of our family’s experience. As a constituent and the voice of youth that are adversely impacted. I ask you to vote yes to this new revised way of information sharing that will give our children who are at great risk a better outcome. Our children deserve the support and consideration for a solid future. The impact of with holding information that can change the outcome of a youth’s life is shameful to say the least. As I advocate for change this specific policy is like a Brick Wall between agencies that are here to help Youth. We must break down this Walls to coordinate services with accurate responsible information sharing to improve youth outcome.

Last Name: Bassing Organization: City of Alexandria Community Services Board Locality: City of Alexandria

My name is Tricia Bassing. I am Chief of Child and Family Behavioral Health Services with the City of Alexandria CSB. For the past several years, I’ve collaborated closely with colleagues in child welfare and our court service unit, people with lived experience in our systems, legal experts and advocates, and the Georgetown Center for Juvenile Justice Reform in an effort to improve our system for families involved in both juvenile justice and child welfare. We recognize that these children are most vulnerable for deeper involvement in both systems, homelessness, out of home placement and chronic behavioral health challenges. These outcomes are not because families are inherently bad. It is because our systems are not sufficiently set up to address the layers of trauma they have experienced. One vital way to stem this tide is to ensure early coordinated care. We’ve heard from families that the lack of early coordination and differing information among our agencies sets them up for failure. They see us as all a part of the same system – which we really are. This legislation would allow court service and child welfare colleagues to find out immediately if a child they have encountered is involved with the other agency, allowing them to reach out and get guardian permission from the very beginning. This is vital and will allow for an efficient and effective coordinated assessment and access to services, while eliminating redundancies. Families will have greater trust in the system because they will see we are working together. From a behavioral health perspective, there are times we are unaware of a child’s involvement with our Court Service Unit. If we knew right away, this information could support meeting a child and family’s behavioral health needs, in addition to ensuring a coordinated systems response – aligning youth and family goals across the system as much as possible. We could also secure releases of information to coordinate early and often with the CSU to ensure a trauma informed lens is applied to their dispositional report. Additionally, at the point of clinical assessment with a family who is CSU involved, this bill would allow us access to the dispositional report, with a guardian’s release of information. Under current law, we cannot access it without a court order. Up front access to this report will ensure efficient and quality assessment and services. HIPPA, the federal law protecting health information, takes priority over this legislation. Alexandria has been stymied by the inability to share disaggregated data among CSU, CSB and Child Welfare for the purpose of system improvement. We can’t understand trends in practice to make positive change. This is a disservice to our families and results in ineffective and more expensive higher levels of service. I appreciate that this type of information exchange must be managed carefully and support the bill’s inclusion of a study to assess the impact of such local data sharing and make best practice recommendations for future bills. With this incremental legislation, I believe we can make foundational changes in line with current juvenile justice reform that sets up our most vulnerable youth and families for success. Thank you for your consideration.

Last Name: Rosenzweig Organization: Alexandria Department of Community and Human Services Locality: Hyattsville

Testimony Senate Bill 1206 February 10, 2021 Greta Rosenzweig, Chief of Child Welfare Alexandria Department of Community and Human Services Good Morning. My name is Greta Rosenzweig, and I am the Chief of Child Welfare for the Alexandria Department of Community and Human Services. I am speaking in support of Senate Bill 1206. On any given day, and often through no fault of their own, youth at-risk of or involved with child welfare and juvenile justice in Virginia fluctuate between various systems of care. These young people are commonly referred to as crossover, dual-status, or dual-system youth . Although the number of crossover youth in Virginia is currently unknown, researchers have found that between 7 and 30% of youth involved in the child welfare system eventually cross over into the juvenile justice system nationally . These individuals face many obstacles including histories of familial mental health challenges and substance use, high rates of education-related difficulties, placement instability and a lack of permanent social connections, and higher rates of recidivism than their single-system peers . Additionally, African American youth are highly overrepresented in this population as are those who identify as LGBQ/GNCT . Since March 2019 and with technical assistance from the Georgetown University Center for Juvenile Justice Reform, youth serving agencies from the City of Alexandria have worked collaboratively to develop a Crossover Youth Practice Model to address the needs of crossover youth. This partnership is led jointly by Alexandria’s Child Welfare Services and Child and Family Behavioral Health Services, and the City of Alexandria Court Service Unit and it includes representatives from the school system and local law enforcement, Guardians ad Litem, Commonwealth, and local jurisdiction attorneys, as well as youth, and families. We have experienced and witnessed first-hand the negative consequences of not knowing immediately when a youth has “crossed over” and not having the ability to share information during case assessment, planning, and management. These include redundancies, lack of coordinated and streamlined services, and an experience for families and youth that is confusing, inconsistent, and overwhelming. We support Senate Bill 1206 because it will allow Child Welfare Services and Court Service Units to identify crossover youth immediately and will allow us to share information so that Child Welfare Services, Court Service Units and Child and Family Behavioral Health can develop coordinated and collaborative assessments, service plans and service delivery. As a result, and based on outcomes from other states and jurisdictions nationally, who can share information and develop coordinated strategies to serve crossover youth, we expect to see: 1. reductions in the number of youth placed in foster care or out-of-home care; 2. reductions in the use of congregate care; and 3. reductions in the disproportionate representation of youth of color We support the bill’s inclusion of a Virginia Commission on Youth work group review of current data and record sharing provisions with regard to youth served by the juvenile justice and child welfare systems. Thank you. Greta Rosenzweig Chief of Child Welfare Alexandria DCHS 2525 Mt. Vernon Avenue Alexandria, VA 22301 703.746.5748 greta.rosenzweig@alexandriava.gov

Last Name: Taylor Organization: City of Alexandria Locality: Alexandria

The City of Alexandria asks for your support for SB 1206 (Barker, co-patroned by Del. Herring). This bill was proposed as a way to provide efficient, narrowly tailored access to Court Services Records of juveniles being served by both the juvenile justice system and the child welfare system in a locality. This is key to our efforts – and the efforts of other localities including Fairfax Co. and Arlington – to implement a Crossover Youth Practice Model, which is a best practice model to support youth who are co-involved with the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. Some of the goals of this model include reducing the number of youth “crossing over” and becoming involved in both systems and reducing the disproportionate representation of youth of color in the “crossover” population. Currently, code allows for the sharing of these court services records with “Any public agency, child welfare agency, private organization, facility or person who is treating or providing services to the child pursuant to a contract” with DJJ. However, this language has not been construed to permit inter-agency information sharing in the past unless it is pursuant to a contractual relationship with DJJ, such as a county group home or treatment facility. The language adopted in the Senate would allow for the sharing of these court services records with local child welfare agencies when they have entered into an agreement with DJJ to provide coordinated services to juveniles who are the subject of the records. In addition, a floor amendment added authority for DJJ/Court Services to determine which reports/records are relevant to the treatment, services, or care of such juvenile and limit the sharing to only those relevant reports/records. The efficient sharing of these records is key to an effective crossover systems response. This bill would enable systems to identify crossover youth early on and share information to effect coordinated and collaborative interventions, case planning, and service delivery to benefit youth and their families. It would also lead to less duplication of information gathering and service delivery by discrete agencies. We are aware, and respectful, of the legislature’s efforts to protect the records of youth in our juvenile justice and child welfare systems. However, the current limits on the ability to share these records without a court order makes it almost impossible to identify particularly vulnerable youth in our child welfare and juvenile justice systems and engage in efficient, coordinated, collaborative case management on their behalf. This bill has the support of the City of Alexandria, Arlington Co., Fairfax Co., the City of Chesapeake, Loudoun Co., The Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University, Voices for Virginia’s Children, Rise for Youth and the Virginia League of Social Services Executives. We are hopeful you will see value in this limited, narrowly tailored change and view it as part of ongoing efforts to reform the criminal justice system so it more efficiently and effectively serves the most vulnerable in our Commonwealth. This change will help create an efficient, effective way for youth engaged in both the juvenile justice system and the child welfare system to receive early intervention and coordinated case management services, which could impact these vulnerable youth at the earliest point that they enter these systems. Sarah Taylor City of Alexandria

SB1209 - Subcontractor's employees; liability of general contractor for wages.
Last Name: Leonard Organization: BWLDC, LiUNA Locality: Reston

The Baltimore Washington Laborers' District Council, the LiUNA affiliate representing more than 7,500 construction laborers across Northern Virginia, DC, and Maryland opposes SB1209 for the following reasons, and urges the committee to vote no on this bill: ● The existing law already is narrow in scope. The current law only applies if the general contractor knew or should have known that workers on their job sites were not being paid all wages due. The current law also only applies to large construction projects valued at more than $500,000, and entirely exempts single-family residential projects. ● SB1209 creates a loophole so that general contractors can avoid liability. Subcontractors have shown a strong willingness to commit wage theft and circumvent Virginia Criminal Code to maintain competitive advantage. With SB1209, a general contractor would be able to avoid liability if the subcontractor states in writing it is paying workers all their wages due, whether true or not. ● It is well-established that general contractors are liable for the actions of their subcontractors, and Virginia should not be backtracking. General contractors are liable for subcontractors’ violations of OSHA regulations and workers compensation laws. As a result, it is well-established that general contractors are responsible for all workers on their job sites for certain matters and should monitor their job sites for potential violations. ● General contractor liability does NOT increase the cost of bonding for subcontractors. The implementation of § 11-4.6 in July 2020 has NOT led to an increase in bonding rates for subcontractors because general contractors typically do not require subcontractors to purchase separate indemnity bonds. Instead, general contractors usually include contract language that indemnifies the general contractor for wages and damages unpaid by the subcontractor.

Last Name: Gilbride Organization: Public Justice Locality: Washington DC

I am a senior staff attorney with Public Justice and have litigated dozens of cases involving forced arbitration provisions, many of those focusing on the issue of Federal Arbitration Act preemption. I have also spoken on the topic of whether particular proposed state legislation is preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act before the legislatures of New York, California and Maryland. Public Justice supports SB1384, which will empower localities throughout Virginia by allowing them to gather the same information about companies that use forced arbitration that is already in the public domain with respect to companies whose employment and civil rights disputes are litigated in open court. When localities enter into contracts, they should have full information about the business records of their potential contracting partners, and this legislation will provide that much-needed transparency. Because the localities will be operating as market participants, not as regulators imposing restrictions on arbitration, the bill does not raise concerns about preemption by the Federal Arbitration Act. A more extensive discussion of the market participant doctrine and how it interacts with FAA preemption can be found in our full testimony here: http://bit.ly/Gilbride_PublicJustice_SB1384

SB1213 - Restricted licenses; DMV authorized to issue.
No Comments Available
SB1226 - Compensation Board; determining staffing and salaries for an attorney for the Commonwealth.
No Comments Available
SB1234 - Virginia State Bar examination; foreign applicants.
Last Name: Khan Locality: Fairfax County

Correction to the last comment: it was passed 39-0 (and not 49-0) in the Senate. Sincerely, Ibnul Ali Khan, Esq.

Last Name: Khan Locality: Fairfax County

Dear Delegates: I was present during the hearing before the Senate and testified before it was voted 15-0 in committe. A representative from the Virginia Supreme Court stated "no comment" to the Bill. The Patron of the Bill, Senator Petersen, also conferred with the Virginia Board of Bar Examiners ("VBBE") regarding the Bill. The VBBE did not make a public appearance before the Senate. The Bill was passed 49-0 in the Senate. Sincerely, Ibnul Ali Khan, Esq.

Last Name: Khan Locality: Fairfax County

Dear Delegates: Background: I am an attorney licensed to practice law in the states of New York and Maryland, and before the United States District Court for the District of Maryland and the Southern District of New York. I also teach Constitutional law as an Adjunct Professor at George Mason University Law School. I currently practice law with a law firm in Fairfax, Virginia. I am familiar with the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia and Virginia law in general. Impacted Class: I speak on behalf of a class of thousands of foreign attorneys who seek to pursue a legal career in the Commonwealth of Virginia but are prevented from doing so given the current law (the "Class"), as fully described herein. Status quo in the majority of states: currently, the Uniform Bar Exam is administered by 38 states and out of those 38 states, foreign attorneys (i.e., attorneys licensed in jurisdictions outside of the U.S.) can sit for the bar exam in potentially 34 different states, with some of those states requiring an LL.M. at an ABA-approved law school in the U.S. Getting licensed in the majority of states: of the 34 states allowing the foreign attorney to sit for their bar exam, 20 of those states require the applicant to obtain an LL.M. in an ABA-approved law school. Therefore, most foreign attorneys only pursue a 1-year LL.M. and pursue the bar exam in these states. The issue in Virginia: there is currently no option for foreign attorneys, even those who obtain an LL.M. at an ABA-approved law school and become licensed as an attorney in another state, to take the Virginia bar exam. Additionally, even if one practices law for 5-years (and maintains an active license), the only waiver provision only grants J.D. graduates the ability to waive into Virginia (without sitting for the bar exam). Therefore, someone like myself, who after having practiced as an attorney for 5 years, could never waive in or even sit for the bar exam given the J.D. requirement. In essence, the Virginia bar is limited to J.D. graduates and those who pursue the "law office" study route and precludes those in the Class. Proposed law: this law would have the impact of allowing foreign attorneys who obtain a LL.M. at an ABA-approved law school and become licensed in one of the United States to become eligible to only sit for the Virginia bar exam. I, along with the thousands of others, support this legislation. It would put foreign attorneys, who become licensed attorneys in the U.S., on an equal footing with Virginia residents and those who have had the privilege to obtain a J.D., at least as it pertains to sitting for the bar exam. Sincerely yours, Ibnul Ali Khan, Esq. Personally and on behalf of the Class

SB1241 - Personal injury claim; disclosure of insurance policy limits.
No Comments Available
SB1242 - Personal appearance by two-way electronic video and audio communication; entry of plea.
Last Name: Tyson Locality: Wise

I urge you to support bill 1325. Grandparents are integral part of children’s lives. My grandmother was very influential in my life and I cannot imagine I would be the person that I am without her influence. Seventy percent of children are raised now by a grandparent or great grandparent at my local primary school. Grandparents need the support of legislation to keep them in those children’s lives and not just a whim when it’s convenient for those parents. We need to protect them legally from being removed out of a child’s life. This is damaging and detrimental to children. We need to protect these most vulnerable individuals that do not have a voice. Again, please consider the influence of your own grandparents and imagine your life without that. We need to surround children with more love 💕 not less!

SB1248 - Juveniles; competency evaluation, receipt of court order.
No Comments Available
SB1261 - Court of Appeals; expands jurisdiction, increases from 11 to 17 number of judges on Court.
No Comments Available
SB1262 - Restricted permit; prepayment of fines and costs.
Last Name: McDermott Organization: Faces and Voice of Recovery (FAVOR) of Virginia Locality: Maidens

I call your attention to the above referenced bill SB1262 (Restricted permit; prepayment of fines and costs) asking for your support as it comes before you. This legislation could have the benefit of impacting thousands of individuals who cannot drive to and from work due to the burden of court costs/fines, especially those in early recovery from substance use disorder (SUD) as they attempt to clear wreckage from their past. As an individual in sustained continuous SUD recovery for over 29 years, I know firsthand the importance of driving privileges and being a useful productive member of society. Further burdening folks with barriers to self-sufficiency is counterproductive to social quality. Thank you for your consideration of my humble personal perspective in this matter, and for your valued selfless service to our Commonwealth.

SB1266 - Admission to bail; rebuttable presumptions against bail.
Last Name: Ford Organization: Virginia Victim Assistance Network Locality: Richmond

Virginia Victim Assistance Network, the statewide member organization for victim/witness advocates around the state, opposes this legislation. Removing the presumption against bond in cases like malicious wounding, strangulation, and murder is extremely dangerous for victims and their families. We risk offenders being released and escalating violence. We ask that you vote no on SB 1266.

Last Name: Tolley Locality: Henrico

SB1266 - Deeds. I urge the committee to support this bill. The code is currently in contradiction to the concept and supposed right to be presumed innocent until/unless proven guilty. The fact that someone can be locked up without bail on the mere basis of the charge flies in the face of justice. This bill will correct a terrible flaw in our criminal justice system. SB1315 - McClellan. I urge the committee to support this bill and conform HB 2047 to this bill. The mental health considerations were stripped from Bourne's bill for what sounded like fears of worst case scenarios and fears that the bill would automatically allow someone with mental illness a free pass. There seemed to be a fear that simply allowing the defendant's mental health issues to be considered throughout the process was equivalent to a not guilty decision for anyone with mental illness. This is a gross misinterpretation. To continue to prevent consideration of defendants' mental illness or presence of intellectual or developmental disabilities is patently unjust - and will allow the current miscarriage of justice which is reflected in the statistics documenting the over-representation of people with mental illness, developmental disabilities and intellectual disabilities in our criminal justice systems. For both SB 1266 and SB1315, these are not bills that are soft on crime as suggested by some. Rather, they rebalance the criminal justice system to consider each case individually with full information rather than acting from a place of prejudgment and retribution.

Last Name: Gaborik Locality: Richmond

SB 1266 - Removing the presumption against bail allows for Judges to evaluate bail in a more fair and just manner which aligns with the core tenet of presumption of innocence. Judges can and should be allowed to determine bail on a case by case basis without being forced to start at a presumption against bond. Arbitrary pretrial incarceration makes it difficult for defendant's to assist in their defense and can lead to mental health and medical issues associated with the poor treatment of inmates, especially during a pandemic. SB1315 - Our justice system must include language that allows for the defendant's mental health to be addressed during the case in chief. This bill allows for our state to become more in line with the Model Penal Code. I have had dozens of cases as a criminal defense attorney over the last two decades where an individual with significant mental health issues did not meet the very rigid and narrow definition of insanity and instead were incarcerated for substantial amounts of time after a guilty verdict. These individuals should have been able to present evidence of their mental health at the time of the offense when determining guilt or innocence. It was a travesty of justice that they could not and it is time for Virginia to recognize the need to give those suffering from mental health other avenues for justice. SB1442 - As a former public defender in the City of Richmond I encourage the members of this Committee to vote in support of a Public Defender's Office in the County of Chesterfield. I practice frequently in this County and can say the level of representation by the court appointed counsel is substantially hindered by the lack of resources and low pay for these attorneys. A Public Defender's Office helps level the playing field for indigent defendants by providing those resources currently not available to court appointed counsel, as well as, not making counsel dependent upon the Judge for their source of income. A defendant represented by a Public Defender would have access to an investigator in their case, regardless of the severity. Currently, only the most serious of charges warrants the granting of funds for an investigator. This means defendant's facing misdemeanors and low level felonies, that could result in jail time, do not have access to an investigator who could help locate witnesses, canvas scenes, and provide other pretrial work the attorney cannot or should not be doing. Additionally, the Public Defender's office would have mitigation specialists on staff to help with complex cases or complex defendant's who need more help at the pretrial or sentencing phase of a case. Additionally, thanks to the substantial number of Public Defender Offices across the state attorneys would have access to brief and motions banks for trial and appellate purposes. Lastly, attorneys in this office would have supervision and daily oversight to insure they are held to the high standards put in place by the Indigent Defense Commission for representation of their clients. Real reform of our justice system must include the ability to have counsel that is both qualified and has the resources necessary to be effective in their representation. Thank you.

Last Name: Griffith Organization: Virginia Community Criminal Justice Association (VCCJA) Locality: RADFORD

The Virginia Community Criminal Justice Association would like to provide our support for SB 1266. We support this bill as the elimination of rebuttable presumption addresses the following: 1. Removes the use of presumptive offenses that casts a wide pretrial detention net without careful consideration of actual risk of the person being considered for release. 2. Presumptive offenses are not based on the research and can cause harm if the defendant is held for even a few days. It can significantly impact the families, communities, and the individuals with loss of housing, employment, and other protective factors. 3. People who are detained pretrial are also at a greater risk of entering a guilty plea regardless of guilt. 4. Judicial officers are already equipped with the tools they need to assess whether a person accused of a crime is too great of a risk to be released. 5. Unnecessarily detaining an individual at the pretrial stage subsequently costs the taxpayers money. We believe that Virginia must not punish an individual for being accused of a crime. A fair and just criminal justice system should not further contribute to harm by holding individuals or requiring cash bail that does not consider all relevant risk factors. Former Chief Justice William Rehnquist stated, “In our system, liberty is the norm, and detention prior to trial is the carefully limited exception.”

Last Name: Gardner Locality: Chesapeake

My name is Katie Gardner and I work as an Assistant Director of Victim Witness Services at a Commonwealth's Attorney's Office. I have been working in Victim Services since 2015. I spent some time in Florida at a State Attorney's Office as the sole victim advocate for the office. I have a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology and a Master's Degree in Forensic Psychology. I've completed well over one hundred hours of victim services training, and have provided training to prosecutors, law enforcement, social workers, etc. on the impact of the criminal justice system on victims and the trauma of victimization. I have emailed this feedback directly to the Chair, Del. Herring, and Del. Leftwich as I am a constituent of District 78. However, I wanted to share my commentary here as well because it is important it be considered. To begin, so much of the legislation making its way through the General Assembly is soft on crime and does not hold offenders accountable. This particular bill is severely lacking in addressing victim safety. A person who commits a violent crime against another has already demonstrated to the court that they are a risk to the public and that victim. https://www.washingtonpost.com/crime-law/2020/08/06/released-jail-height-pandemic-alexandria-rape-suspect-allegedly-killed-his-accuser/ The attached news article addresses a tragedy right here in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a man in jail awaiting trial after being indicted on charges of rape, strangulation, and abduction was granted a $25,000 bond when his attorneys argued he was not safe in jail due to the pandemic. Two months, after being granted a bond, the defendant shot and killed the victim who testified against him at preliminary hearing. Even with a presumption, this individual was still granted a bond. Removing that presumption will make it easier for violent offenders to bond out and engage in violent behavior. I got my start in Victim Services in Pinellas County, FL. In Florida, if you are arrested for a particularly violent crime or any domestic related offense, you are held with no bond until you go before a judge. All defendants are seen by a judge within 24 hours of their arrest at what's called an advisory hearing. Years ago, that was not always the case for domestic crimes until one defendant was arrested for a domestic violence charge, bonded out and immediately killed his victim. Even since holding defendants with no bond for 24 hours, offenders have still bonded out and murdered their victims. Florida tried to do better. Now Virginia needs to do better. Virginia's Criminal Justice System is headed down a dark, dangerous, accountability-free path that has many people working in victim services terrified. Please keep these anecdotes in mind when considering this bill. Thank you for your consideration in this matter.

SB1270 - Eminent domain; notice of intent to file certificate.
No Comments Available
SB1272 - Unrestorably incompetent defendant; disposition, capital murder charge, inpatient custody.
No Comments Available
SB1297 - Emergency order for adult protective services; acts of violence, etc., or financial exploitation.
No Comments Available
SB1306 - Assault and battery; penalty.
No Comments Available
SB1315 - Criminal proceedings; consideration of mental condition & intellectual & developmental disabilities.
Last Name: Tolley Locality: Henrico

SB1266 - Deeds. I urge the committee to support this bill. The code is currently in contradiction to the concept and supposed right to be presumed innocent until/unless proven guilty. The fact that someone can be locked up without bail on the mere basis of the charge flies in the face of justice. This bill will correct a terrible flaw in our criminal justice system. SB1315 - McClellan. I urge the committee to support this bill and conform HB 2047 to this bill. The mental health considerations were stripped from Bourne's bill for what sounded like fears of worst case scenarios and fears that the bill would automatically allow someone with mental illness a free pass. There seemed to be a fear that simply allowing the defendant's mental health issues to be considered throughout the process was equivalent to a not guilty decision for anyone with mental illness. This is a gross misinterpretation. To continue to prevent consideration of defendants' mental illness or presence of intellectual or developmental disabilities is patently unjust - and will allow the current miscarriage of justice which is reflected in the statistics documenting the over-representation of people with mental illness, developmental disabilities and intellectual disabilities in our criminal justice systems. For both SB 1266 and SB1315, these are not bills that are soft on crime as suggested by some. Rather, they rebalance the criminal justice system to consider each case individually with full information rather than acting from a place of prejudgment and retribution.

Last Name: Gaborik Locality: Richmond

SB 1266 - Removing the presumption against bail allows for Judges to evaluate bail in a more fair and just manner which aligns with the core tenet of presumption of innocence. Judges can and should be allowed to determine bail on a case by case basis without being forced to start at a presumption against bond. Arbitrary pretrial incarceration makes it difficult for defendant's to assist in their defense and can lead to mental health and medical issues associated with the poor treatment of inmates, especially during a pandemic. SB1315 - Our justice system must include language that allows for the defendant's mental health to be addressed during the case in chief. This bill allows for our state to become more in line with the Model Penal Code. I have had dozens of cases as a criminal defense attorney over the last two decades where an individual with significant mental health issues did not meet the very rigid and narrow definition of insanity and instead were incarcerated for substantial amounts of time after a guilty verdict. These individuals should have been able to present evidence of their mental health at the time of the offense when determining guilt or innocence. It was a travesty of justice that they could not and it is time for Virginia to recognize the need to give those suffering from mental health other avenues for justice. SB1442 - As a former public defender in the City of Richmond I encourage the members of this Committee to vote in support of a Public Defender's Office in the County of Chesterfield. I practice frequently in this County and can say the level of representation by the court appointed counsel is substantially hindered by the lack of resources and low pay for these attorneys. A Public Defender's Office helps level the playing field for indigent defendants by providing those resources currently not available to court appointed counsel, as well as, not making counsel dependent upon the Judge for their source of income. A defendant represented by a Public Defender would have access to an investigator in their case, regardless of the severity. Currently, only the most serious of charges warrants the granting of funds for an investigator. This means defendant's facing misdemeanors and low level felonies, that could result in jail time, do not have access to an investigator who could help locate witnesses, canvas scenes, and provide other pretrial work the attorney cannot or should not be doing. Additionally, the Public Defender's office would have mitigation specialists on staff to help with complex cases or complex defendant's who need more help at the pretrial or sentencing phase of a case. Additionally, thanks to the substantial number of Public Defender Offices across the state attorneys would have access to brief and motions banks for trial and appellate purposes. Lastly, attorneys in this office would have supervision and daily oversight to insure they are held to the high standards put in place by the Indigent Defense Commission for representation of their clients. Real reform of our justice system must include the ability to have counsel that is both qualified and has the resources necessary to be effective in their representation. Thank you.

Last Name: Rice Locality: Greene County, Ruckersville

Hello, I’m writing to express my support of SB1315. I’ve been a resident of Virginia’s 58th district for over 20 years. As the father of an adult son with serious mental illness, this bill is personal for me. At the height of my son’s mental health crises in his teens and early 20s, he had several encounters with law enforcement. By the grace of God, none of those encounters resulted in assault against law enforcement officer charges or any other charges. But he easily could have been charged with a criminal offense, in which case, the ability to enter into defense background on his mental illness that exacerbated his behavior and decision-making ability, would have been essential. One way we can stem the tide of a disproportionate number of people experiencing mental illness from ending up in our jails and prisons is if we become more informed about how we are engaging with these individuals whenever they become involved in the criminal process. I am heartened that SB1315 appears to be moving in that direction. Thank you for your consideration of my perspective as you deliberate on SB1315. Sincerely, Derik Rice 81 Richards Ct. Ruckersville, VA 22968 434-242-0449

Last Name: Champion Organization: Virginia Autism Project Locality: Springfield

Dear Members of the House Courts of Justice SubCommittee, The Virginia Autism Project supports SB1315 which will allow the court to consider a developmental disability/intellectual disability and an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) during the bail and sentencing stages. -This is important because currently, someone who is unable to understand the impact of their behavior or who is unable to control their behavior will still be held accountable for that behavior. -Even though individuals with developmental/ intellectual disabilities and /or an ASD diagnosis, do not adequately have their mental health issues or diminished capacity weighed in criminal justice proceedings. -Training for the attorneys involved in these cases is so very important also. Please vote yes on SB1315.

SB1324 - Actions against real estate appraisers or appraisal management companies; statute of limitations.
Last Name: Hansen Organization: Appraisal Institute Locality: Lynchburg

February 8, 2021 House Courts of Justice Committee RE: Support for SB 1324 – Actions against real estate appraisers or appraisal management companies; statute of limitations Chair Herring, Vice Chair Watts, and Committee Members: The Virginia Commonwealth Chapter of the Appraisal Institute (VCCAI) is writing to express strong support for SB 1324 which would establish a 5-year statute of limitations on civil actions against real estate appraisers and appraisal management companies following the date the appraisal was performed. Recently, real estate appraisers have faced lawsuits alleging defects in appraisals that were performed as long as 20 years ago. Generally, these lawsuits are filed after some type of adverse event (i.e., a mortgage default) occurred and a review of the appraisal is performed by an entity that has purchased the defaulted loan and/or the rights to sue the appraiser. A suit is filed alleging that the appraiser’s malpractice or misrepresentation is the reason why the adverse event occurred, when there is usually some other non-actionable reason why the adverse event occurred (i.e., reduction in income, poor underwriting, market fluctuations, etc.). The Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP), which every real estate appraiser in the Commonwealth is required to follow, mandates that appraisers keep their work files for every appraisal for a period of 5 years. Most appraisers purge their files after 5 years and it becomes very difficult for the appraiser to adequately defend themselves against a suit that is filed 10, 15 or even 20 years after the appraisal was performed. In many cases, appraisers are forced to settle these lawsuits to avoid the uncertainty of the judicial process and the possibility for significant judgements. A statute of limitations that is specific to claims against real estate appraisers, and that matches the USPAP recordkeeping requirements, will provide the certainty of knowing the time period during which a suit might be filed. The appraiser will be better able to take appropriate risk management steps, such as obtaining insurance coverage and retaining appropriate records. We urge the Committee to favorably report SB 1324. If you have any questions or need additional information, please contact Scott DiBiasio, Appraisal Institute Manager of State & Industry Affairs at (202) 298-5593 or sdibiasio@appraisalinstitute.org. Regards, Billy Hansen, MAI 2021 President (434) 942-2245 billy@hansenrealtyadvisors.com

SB1325 - Visitation; petition of grandparent.
Last Name: Cooper Locality: Pennington gap

I agree all grandparents should see and be a part of grandkids.

Last Name: Baker Locality: Wise

I’m a grandma to four beautiful granddaughters. I cannot imagine my life without them. I feel that anyone who loves their grandkids and want to be a part of their lives should have that opportunity. No child should be kept away from grandparents because of the death of a parent.

Last Name: Stanley Locality: Dickenson

My grandparents played such an important role in my life. Each child and grandparent deserve the right to be a part of each other’s life. Please pass this bill. Children’s voices need to be heard. Thank you for your consideration.

Last Name: Barnette Locality: Wise

This is so important to our family. We are raising our grandchildren. When someone looses their son, it shouldn’t mean they lose their grandson. I can’t imagine losing my dad and my grandparents all at okie. Please pass this law for our grandchildren. Warm Regards, Lou Barnette

Last Name: Meade Organization: Daxton's Law Locality: Coeburn

Although SB1325 is referred to as a bill to petition for visitation of a grandparent, I view it more as a grandchild's rights bill. It is my belief that every child deserves to feel loved, to feel a part of something bigger than themselves, to understand their family history and connections, and to feel safe, accepted, and supported by the people in their lives. This includes the grandparents of a child whose parent is deceased. When a grandparent is denied the opportunity to visit and be a part of their grandchild's life, the child may feel abandoned, confused, and cut off from a large segment of the love and support they previously experienced. Many times when the parents of a deceased child is not allowed to visit their grandchild, the child also loses contact with aunts, uncles, and cousins from that side of the family. Why should a child be denied this right...the right to have ALL the love and support possible in his/her life? With that being said, I fully support SB1325 and urge you to support it as well.

Last Name: Nicely Locality: Roanoke County

There is no greater fundamental relationship greater than a parent. Both parents play a vital role in the nurture, support, guidance and development of healthy children. The next great relationship is that of grandparents, which are equally as vital and sustainable in development. I can think of no greater loss to these amazing girls than the death of their father. Now more than ever those girls need love and guidance through their grandparents, to help sustain thier fathers love for them. It is truly the next natural extension to the missing link in their lives. Studies show the experiences, the knowledge, the love and relationships of both grandchildren and grandparents are a mutual effective and empowering relationship in our lives. Allowing this family the connection that has been missing for so many years is vital to the future of those girls, and the grandparents that are denied access to them. I can see no greater just action than to allow them regular visitations with their grandchildren. Thank you.

Last Name: McAuliffe Locality: Warrenton, Virginia

Grandparents play a major role in the emotional and social well being of children. Disrupting already established relationships may be devastating to both the children and the grandparents. Please pass this bill to provide grandparents an opportunity to simply demonstrate this relationship is in the best interest of the children and would have been the wish of a deceased parent.

Last Name: Harris Locality: Smyth

Please, I urge you to strongly consider passing SB1325. Grandparents deserve that opportunity to have a relationship with their grandchildren. Grandchildren deserve a voice. This is so important and not given enough attention.

Last Name: Jones Locality: Smyth

This matters. Grandparents matter. Those relationships are irreplaceable and should be protected and fought for.

Last Name: Rose Locality: Russell

I respectfully ask for this committee to pass SB1325 for the children, all the precious grandchildren that have been separated from loving, supportive and healthy Grandparents after losing a parent. We tragically lost our oldest son in Nov 2017 and subsequently lost all contact with his 3 beautiful daughters, our only grandchildren all because after a volatile divorce our ex daughter-in-law decided that their Dad’s family wasn’t important anymore. Our Granddaughters not only lost their Daddy they adored but their love and support, their connection to their Dad. All children deserve every bit of the love and support after losing a parent as it’s a very sad time of grief. SB1325 bill will allow Grandparents who have lost a child to present their case while respecting parental rights. It is right and fair for all involved. We were a vital part of our 3 Granddaughters upbringing, we supported, loved and cared for them and all of this love was ripped away from them after they suffered the loss of their Dad. This bill will allow the courts to take in consideration the deceased parents wishes in maintaining the Grandparent/grandchild relationship. Thank you for your support.

Last Name: Blankenship Locality: Salem

Too many grandchildren are being ripped away from the love of their grandparents due to ex-spouses using the grandchildren to seek revenge or to punish the grandparents. Grandparents are essential to molding our next generation and not all grandparents deserve punishment for a vindictive parent of a grandchild. I’ve seen it too many times. The grandchild and the grandparent take the brunt of the pain and suffering in the name of payback/hatred. Please let our good grandparents be a part of their grandchildren’s lives.

Last Name: Vaughn Organization: SB1325 Locality: Norton

I fully support passage of bill SN1325 dealing with visitation for grandparents. Grandparents should have the right to see their grandchildren. Grandparents are usually the ones called upon when parents need someone to watch their kids. A lot of times grandparents are the ones raising their grandchildren. I couldn’t even imagine my grandparents not being in my life. I think parents do this thinking it’ll hurt the grandparents. Yes it does but it actually hurts the grandchildren more. Grandchildren have a right to know their grandparents and to have a relationship with them. So I’m asking you to please pass this bill as I think it’s in the best interest of both grandparents and grandchildren.

Last Name: Blankenship Locality: Cliintwood

As a grandparent of 3 this battle has opened my eyes to a big problem that many grandparents in the state of Virginia are facing! I would like to offer my support and urge the passing of SB135. How many of you are grandparents? Can you imagine yourself in this situation through no fault of your own someone decides for you that you can’t see your precious grand babies! In many cases not only do you suffer the loss of your child but then you must lose your last link to them? And you have to wonder if that grandchild is being told you don’t want to see them or that you don’t love them! This child that has loss a parent now has another unexplained loss. Sometimes that is not the and I understand that also . I work In health care I have seen more than a few children being raised by their grandparents because of parents being unable for what ever reason drugs jail rehab, single parent that needs help getting on their feet . Whatever the case the grand parents are there when needed and deserve to have some rights!

Last Name: Collins Organization: AJC LAW Locality: Wise

GrandPARENTS bring stability, experiences of a passing generation, and a sense of belonging to grandchildren. Grandparents are motivated by love and well wishes for the next generation, who must carry on, in this our shared destiny. Grandchildren have a right to have a family tree which has not had half of its limbs chopped off. Heritage and roots are meaningful to our development as human beings. We learn from the experiences of those who came before. Please support SB1325. This bill is NOT about taking something away a surviving parent. This bill IS about, not taking something away from a precious child. Thank you for considering my input.

Last Name: Collins Organization: AJC LAW Locality: Wise

GrandPARENTS bring stability, experiences of a passing generation, and a sense of belonging to grandchildren. Grandparents are motivated by love and well wishes for the next generation, who must carry on, in this our shared destiny. Grandchildren have a right to have a family tree which has not had half of its limbs chopped off. Heritage and roots are meaningful to our development as human beings. We learn from the experiences of those who came before. Please support SB1325. This bill is NOT about taking something away a surviving parent. This bill IS about, not taking something away from a precious child. Thank you for considering my input.

Last Name: Abshire Organization: Daxton’s Law Locality: Haysi

Pass this law ,grandparents are a vital role in their life. I raised my oldest grandson from 6 months of age. I knowthe grandmother personally in this case , has she not suffered enough losing her son . Please for the sake of the children that can’t speak for themselves pass this LAW .

Last Name: Collins Locality: Dickenson

As a single father, I would want my parents to have a legal right to visitation if something happened to me! This bill is the right thing to do!

Last Name: Wyle Organization: Coalition for the Restoration of Parental Rights Locality: Monroe County (IN)

If this body is to direct judicial attention to key factors involved in a petition for grandparent visitation, those factors should include the overriding constitutional principle -- established by U.S. Supreme Court and Virginia Supreme Court case law -- that a fit parent has the fundamental right to determine the upbringing of his or her child, making the many decisions necessary for that most important of tasks. It must therefore be presumed, according to this precedent, that a fit parent's decision to limit or deny visitation between a particular grandparent and a particular child is in the best interests of that child. All other factors must be viewed in this light. Moreover, if this body is to list such other factors, they should include the impact on the custodial family, including other children in the custodial family, of a court-imposed visitation schedule. Such a schedule is often highly disruptive of family dynamics and priorities. It can leave children not included in the visitation order (often present in blended families) feeling undervalued and left out, with resultant damage in sibling relationships. It can interfere with cherished family customs such as annual vacations. And of course, it almost inevitably reduces the time the child can spent with his or her parents, and with less litigious relatives, outside the parents’ work hours. Court-imposed visitation can also make the continuation of the child’s extracurricular pursuits, from sports to music lessons to involvement in theatrical productions, more difficult or even impossible. Such interference can have long-lasting results on a child’s future, including the child’s educational prospects where scholarships are no longer attainable.

Last Name: Ervin Locality: Floyd County

I was surprised that this was even an issue; I don't think many people realize that this can happen to grandparents/grandchildren. Unless a grandparent causes physical or emotional turmoil in a child's life, why shouldn't they be allowed to have visitation? What kind of person would do that to a child and his/her grandparents? Is this done out of spite?

Last Name: Diamond Organization: Va Locality: Floyd

It is horrible to lose your grandparents.

Last Name: Vaughn Locality: Floyd

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Last Name: Jones Locality: Floyd

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Last Name: Robins Locality: Floyd, VA

pog bill

Last Name: Rose Locality: Lebanon

My husband and I ask that SB1325 be passed. We lost our oldest son tragically in 2017. He blessed us with 3 beautiful Granddaughters and they have been completely removed from our lives for 4 years now. We have been very loving and supportive Grandparents ever since our Granddaughters were born and we haven’t been allowed to see us or have any contact with us for 9 months before their Daddy died and for the 3 years and 3 months after he has passed. Grandchildren deserve the love, nurturing and affection that only Grandparents can provide. We filed a petition for visitation in 2018 and even though we had proof of being present, loving and supportive Grandparents in their lives, the burden of proof was still on us, as the current law states, to prove harm would come to our Granddaughters by not having us in their lives. This is a huge task for anyone to have to prove. Children need their Grandparents and passing SB1325 will improve the quality of life for many lives.

Last Name: Taulbee Organization: Grandparent Group Locality: Coeburn

I raise a great grandchild and I have been the only positive influence in that child’s life. This child would have been in foster care if not for me. However her parents could come in her life and take her away from me although I have now raised her to being a teenager. This would be detrimental for this child. Please consider the numbers of grandparent and great grandparents that are in similar situations as my own. Please consider the sacrifices that grandparents make for their grandchildren and stand in unison with the thousands of grandparents across the state that support one of the best bills that has ever been proposed to the VA General Assembly.

Last Name: Tyson Locality: Wise

I urge you to support bill 1325. Grandparents are integral part of children’s lives. My grandmother was very influential in my life and I cannot imagine I would be the person that I am without her influence. Seventy percent of children are raised now by a grandparent or great grandparent at my local primary school. Grandparents need the support of legislation to keep them in those children’s lives and not just a whim when it’s convenient for those parents. We need to protect them legally from being removed out of a child’s life. This is damaging and detrimental to children. We need to protect these most vulnerable individuals that do not have a voice. Again, please consider the influence of your own grandparents and imagine your life without that. We need to surround children with more love 💕 not less!

Last Name: Wilson Organization: SB1325 Locality: Norton

I asking that you pass this bill for grandparents to be able to have visitation rights for so many grandparents! Not only is it hurting the grandparents but the grandchildren who want so much ch to see each other denying this visitation is wrong on both ends. Heartaches so deep that it crushes the hearts of my he ones being denied the right to see their loved ones life is so Unpredictable that’s why I beg you to pass this bill to help what’s wrong and make it right in the lives of grandparents and grandchildren bring hearts together not put aside like they don’t matter because they truly do!! In our own lives our foundation can be so shaken by losing ones child and then not be able to visit their grandchildren and the grandchildren not be allowed to have the right to visit their grandparents hearts are broken to much because of this! Please vote yes to help make a Hugh change in the law that helps grandparents be involved in their grandchildren’s life’s , how amazing that would be , I ask agsin Please makes this law come to life for so very many people!!!

Last Name: Adkins Locality: Kingsport

I am writing in support of SB1325. I as a Grandmother can’t imagine not getting to be part of my grandchildren’s lives. Your children are part of you and if you lost them as they have the only thing that could ever help to heal is your grandchild. We love our grandchildren with all our hearts and they deserve to have the love of their family even if their parent passes away they need the love and support of their Grandparents.

Last Name: Rose Locality: Clintwood

I urge you to pass this bill, allowing grandparents to have rights to visitation with their grandchildren and the children to have rights to loving family support. I speak from my personal experience. My father died when I was 8 years old and my mother became addicted to opioids and other drugs shortly after my dad's death. My younger brothers and I were subjected to abuse and neglect during our mother's addiction. At times, I worried whether we would survive. My mother did a pretty good job of keeping us away from our grandparents because she knew I would tell them what was going on and they would step in to save my brothers and me. CPS utterly failed us. Local law enforcement utterly failed us. Both had received requests to check on us and there was at least 1 report of abuse and neglect made. Neither CPS nor any officer actually investigated the matter and it was all closed out as unfounded. Of course, I was about 11 years old at this time and nobody from either CPS or the law enforcement agency came to speak with me. I only learned that these requests and complaints had been made at a much later time. The system failed my brothers and me. We continued to be beaten, suffer neglect, and had to experience other things I wish I could burn from my memory. But do you know who didn't fail us? Our grandparents. One day, I was finally able to tell my maternal grandmother everything that had been going on and all that was being done to us. She got us out of there and saved us. Not CPS, not law enforcement...my grandmother saved us. It petrifies me to think what could have happened to us if I wasn't able to get word to my grandmother and/or she wasn't able to get us out of that horrible situation. My mother kept us away from our grandparents and other family as much as possible during that time, just to hide the abuse and neglect we were suffering and to keep people from knowing about it. My grandmother had tried to have CPS and law enforcement check on us, but she was told grandparents have no rights to their grandchildren and if our mom wanted to keep us away, then there was nothing that could be done. Even the reported abuse and neglect complaint was cleared with only a phone call as unfounded. So, I urge you, please pass this bill. It very well may save a child's life. Thank you.

Last Name: Karshner Locality: Abingdon

When the hatred towards me from others trickled down to my children and our bond was severed, it also severed the bond for my father. He is the most loving grandfather, he has paid for anything that I could not provide on my own for the children. He is an amazing man, both in his career as a partner in a SWVA law firm and as a ballroom dancer. For years he took my daughter to the father daughter ball and has taught her how to dance. He’s been to all of their events, PTA meetings, award ceremonies, school lunches, band recitals, family traditions , and was an active help in driving them to their practices and even grandchildren sitting when I had to work. The smiles he brought to their faces throughout the years has been priceless. There is no love or bond quite like the ones with grandparents. It breaks my heart that my father has been cut off bc of the control and manipulation of the other side of their family. My mother and stepfather are now allowed to see the children but at first they were completely cut off. She has to play their game of manipulation to see her grandchildren. The relationship the children had with her was a magical one and now it is one that is controlled by what this parent wants and not what the children would want. I have several friends who have lost their grandchildren when their own child died and the other parent took advantage of the laws in place to cut them out of the children. I can not imagine my life full of memories of my loving grandparents. I can not imagine how much my own children are truly missing out on now with me pushed from the picture. Children should have rights to know their family and grow healthy and fulfilling relationships with them. Especially if they have lost their own child. Please consider making amendments to the laws that keep families separated and broken. Grandparents are one of the most invaluable parts of our life and a huge part of what shapes us into who we are.

Last Name: Holmes Locality: Clintwood-Dickenson County

We have been denied any contact with our 4 year old grandson for the last 3 years after the suicide of his father - our son. Not only is he missing out on a relationship with us, his grandparents, he is also missing out on a relationship with his half brother (from our son’s first marriage). Up until our son’s suicide, we had a good relationship with our grandsons mother, so we are at a loss as to why she cut off all communication with us. We went to court to try to get visitation but were told that we had to prove that our grandson was being harmed from not having contact with us. How is that even possible for a 1 1/2 year old to express a desire to have a relationship with his grandparents and/or his half brother. This is so unfair. We feel that we have so much love to give to our grandson. Not only did we lose our son to suicide- we have also lost our grandson! Will he ever know how much we love him? Please help us!

Last Name: Jesses Organization: Daxton Law Locality: Pound

What should be the rights of law abiding and upstanding grandparents are taken away on a daily basis by individuals (parents, grandparents, other family members) because of their own individual dislike for the other set of grandparents. This needs to stop. The children don't understand and are often misled. Walls are built which leads to more hatred and anguish that only hurts the children.. Please I beg you to pass this bill for all the children being done wrong because of adults with unhappy hearts.

Last Name: Stewart Locality: Dickenson

I am asking for support of SB1325 in its entirety. I cannot imagine the pain of losing a child, but adding the additional loss of a relationship with a grandchild is unfathomable. A child needs and deserves all of the love and support they can get, especially as they try to cope with their grief. As I walk down memory lane with my only child, I am always touched by the stories she tells of my mother and father, and what an irreplaceable part of her life they were. It was the little things - like working in the garden and canning tomatoes - that bring joy to her heart. Even though she lost them in her early teenage years, their positive loving influence cannot be diminished. I wish for every child to be able to have those loving memories of their grandparents. I especially wish that for children who have lost a parent, because they need that love and support even more. I ask you to please vote in favor of SB1325 to help grandparents and grandchildren spend time together and make their own beautiful memories. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Last Name: Fields Locality: Haysi

I respectfully ask that you consider passage of bill SB1325. It is my opinion that the grandparent relationship is very important in child rearing. This is a very special level of security for the child. In the case of losing a parent and then losing contact with their grandparents, the child will suffer more unnecessarily through no fault of their own. In fact, I would consider this to double the hurt from the loss. This is especially true when the grandparents have been an integral part of the child’s life up to that point and there is proof of that. The focus is what is best for the child. Passage of this bill is so very important on many different levels to protect the child or children from undue hurt and to maintain that special bond that has been formed. Thank you.

Last Name: Ball Organization: Grandparents Rights Locality: Church Hill

I 100% support Daxton's law, SB1325. Please vote yes to grant grandparents visiting privileges with their grandchildren. It is imperative that grandchildren have visitation and communication with their grandparents. They play a vital part in a child's life. Grandchildren should be allow to continue a bond with their grandparents.

Last Name: Diane Wilson Locality: POUND

I urge you to please pass this bill so our grandchildren can have a voice .

Last Name: Bise Locality: Wise

Please vote yes on bill 1325. I am a grandmother raising my only grandchild. And what a blessing it is. I think about what if the situation was reversed. What if we couldn’t be a part of each others’ life. How devastating it would be for both of us. It is a cruel act to withhold love and socialization from a child and a grandparent. A child without a grandparent misses out on so much knowledge . And if that child is kept from grandparents as a child it will truly affect him as an adult. A person deserves to know where they come from so they can get to where they need to be as an adult. Please consider this bill and let these grandparents /children bond. Thank you.

Last Name: Christian Locality: Russell, Castlewood

I 100% support Daxtons Law. SB 1325 means a lot to me personally. I am a childhood friend of Daxtons grandmother and you couldn’t ask for a better person. This is such a tragedy to begin with and for her to be kept from her only grandson is uncalled for. I am also a grandmother of only one grandson. It’s heartbreaking to here story after story of grandparents being kept away for selfish reason. There needs to be laws in place to prevent this from going any further. Please please pass this Bill. No child needs to robbed on unconditional love and support and in a lot of cases , a soft place to land. Grandparents need right. Daxton needs his grandmother and to know how much his father truly loved him. He has a right to know his heritage. Once again, I am asking for this bill to pass and many grandparents like this a voice. He lost his father , he doesn’t need to loose his grandmother too.

Last Name: Elswick Locality: Buchanan

Please vote YES on HB 1325. As a grandparent I can not imagine being denied visitation with my grandchildren. The unconditional love, and stability that Grandparents offer their grandchildren is priceless. All grandchildren deserve to know their family and learn about their heritage. All parents need the security of knowing if something happens to them their children will not suffer additional loss of their family! Please pass HB 1325 in its entirety for grandparents and the children.

Last Name: Collins Organization: AJC LAW Locality: Wise

Please vote YES on HB 1325. Every year people spend millions of dollars to discover and learn about their ancestory. Little children should not have to experience the joy of having a grandparent in that manner. As fulfilling as DNA and ancestry research may be, it will never warm a heart or tummy, as much as grandmother's cookies or a ride on grandpa's tractor. Grandparents have a lot to offer their grandchildren. Perhaps, grandparents have no legal obligation to their grandchildren, but they certainly have a moral obligation, born of love, great compassion, and the desire to see the little ones thrive and succeed. The proposed Bill does not diminish the fundamental right of a parent to raise their child. It simply recognizes that children have rights too, being the right not to have their heritage canceled, and the right to have loving grandparents. The passage of this Bill has the potential to clarify and create uniformity in the application of the existing visitation statute in Virginia as it applies to grandparents. Thank you for your kind consideration of this Bill, it means so much to many.

Last Name: Stanley Locality: Dickemson

Please give a lot of consideration in passing this. Grandparents play such an influential part of a child’s life. Every child should have the right to know their grandparents.

Last Name: Reece Organization: Grandparent Rights Locality: Wise

Growing up in this area is great because grandparents can play a vital role in lives. My niece was raised by her grandmother. Her parent were divorced and her mother was able to be present a-lot due to her work schedule. My niece would have been lost without my mother her grandmother raising her because parents were unavailable to raise her like we were raised. Many kids depend on their grandparents for stability especially if there is an absent parent. Please pass this bill for the sake of our children. Our children needs their grandparents. Parent don't always make the best decisions and grandparents need to be present.

Last Name: Reece Organization: Grandparent Rights Locality: Wise

Growing up in this area is great because grandparents can play a vital role in lives. My niece was raised by her grandmother. Her parent were divorced and her mother was able to be present a-lot due to her work schedule. My niece would have been lost without my mother her grandmother raising her because parents were unavailable to raise her like we were raised. Many kids depend on their grandparents for stability especially if there is an absent parent. Please pass this bill for the sake of our children. Our children needs their grandparents. Parent don't always make the best decisions and grandparents need to be present.

Last Name: Looney Organization: Grandparents Rights Locality: Dickenson

Please vote and support SB1325 in its entirety. As a retired middle school teacher, parent, and grandparent, I urge committee members to consider the value of interaction between nurturing grandparents and their grandchildren. This relationship becomes even more important when a parent is deceased or otherwise deemed incapable of being in a child’s life. The role of a loving grandparent(s) in children’s lives is invaluable to a child. On behalf of the children, please be the voice of change in the current law. Respectfully, Mary Kathryn Looney

Last Name: Rife Locality: Dickenson

I want to say I fully support Bill 1325. I had the honor of being raised by my grandmother. Due to divorce my 3 older brothers and myself lived with our grandparents starting when I was 4 years old. Believe me a child needs their family on both mothers and fathers side. Especially after something traumatic. A loss of a parent or divorce. They need to see all their family loves them and wants them. My oldest brother had one son. When his son was 21 years old he was killed in a hunting accident. He left behind a one month old son. If it had not been for that little boy my brother, his grandfather would have never survived. Grandparents need their grandkids as much as the kids need them. I can’t believe this is not a law already. Please give them the rights to be a big part of their grandchildren’s lives.

Last Name: Marshall Organization: All grandparents. Locality: Big Stone Gap

Members of the committee I am sending this letter, asking and praying you will pass the grandparents rights law SB 135. I have not seen my grandson since the day he had to testify in court on behalf of his father. Who shot and killed my daughter. This has been the worst thing anyone could have to deal with in their life, please vote yes on the bill SB1325 thank you

Last Name: Blanken Locality: Lee County, VA

In today's society, we have many grandparents raising their grandchildren (and even great grandchildren), since the children were newborns. We ask these people to come forward at times of crisis to support the child; however, we do not have the laws to protect their rights. Families consist of more than a single couple and their children living under the same roof in today's world. Families are diverse and we need to change with the world we live in. If grandparents' rights aren't protected, we may see a backlash in the community of grandparents afraid to become involved in the lives of these children, when we so desperately need them. We need to support them, the love they share, and the dedication and commitment to these children before we lose their support.

Last Name: Neese Locality: Washington

I am writing this evening to give my full support behind SB1325. I could not imagine my life without my grandparents and the life values and the love they showed me along the way. Growing up, I had a sick mother that spent numerous weeks within the hospital, meaning our father was with her providing care. With both parents gone, my grandparents provided care for myself and my sister. They fed us, helped us with school work and provided us the support we needed with our parents being absent at times. Without a doubt, grandparents play a vital role in the lives of their grandchildren. This bill allows courts to take into consideration the expressed consent, as proven by the grandparents, the wishes of the deceased parent in maintaining the grandparent/grandchild relationship. If something were to happen to me, I would want my parents to maintain a strong relationship with my children. Please pass SB1325 in its entirety; this is a bipartisan bill that allows grandparents to make their case without infringing upon parent rights. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Last Name: Smith Locality: Bristol va

I believe grandparents should have every right to see their grandkids if there are not any evidence of abuse

Last Name: Matthews Locality: Abingdon

Members of the Committee: I send this note today in support of Senate Bill 1325 and respectfully ask that unanimous consent be given to the Bill in this committee. Grandparents are such an important part of a child's life, especially when the parent is deceased. If the surviving parent does not allow the grandparents to spend time with the grandchild, one half of that child's familial history is being erased. I look back fondly on my youth and reminisce on the many many days that I got to spend with my grandparents. The things they taught me by just being part of my life are innumerable. Their love has stuck with me as I have grown into an adult. Part of who I am is because of my grandparents. It would be a shame for the surviving parent in the case of the death of the other parent to deprive their children of that experience. Thank you for your consideration in this matter. Respectfully yours, Joe Matthews Abingdon

Last Name: Vaughn Locality: Christiansburg

Please consider passing this bill in support of grandparents' visitation rights with their grandchildren. I am eternally grateful to have had a close relationship with my grandparents throughout my life. I cannot imagine anyone denying that opportunity to a child when the grandparents are loving and supportive of their grandchildren. As an educator, children, especially children who have undergone trauma, need a positive relationship in their lives. A positive relationship with one's grandparents can help in the healing process for a child. I urge you to pass this bill in its entirety!

Last Name: Trent Locality: Wash. Co

We are the grandparents of two amazing girls which are 10 and 13 years old as a parent of two kids ourselves a boy and a girl a daughter and husband chose to live with us newly married her still in college him finding his career they became mom and dad I’m selves we also became parents again several years ago We receive the worst news your daughter has cancer and a short time to live almost immediately daddy leaves the mom and the two girls granddaughters for another woman now his wife this illness let her to go to Florida for hope and they care for cancer our journey lead us to spend weeks sometimes months over 200 flights back-and-forth over 2000 treatments of chemo and several operations many days in the hospital we took you and those two girls provided every Way went home so they was in school sports church anything that comfort them and made them happy on November 24, 2019 a daughter went to be with the Lord that night the dad came to pick up the girls we lost three that night so did the two girls To a man that was never a true dad into a woman that tells them don’t have no kids don’t want no kids or I would’ve had my own the girls love was with their grandparents through all the times of sickness through all the tears is this bill what’s right for the grandparents or is this bill what’s right for the kids the kids needs to have love as my daughter always said God‘s got this you need to pass this bill let the kids grow up to where they know they are loved thank you

Last Name: Aylor Locality: Christiansburg

I am writing this evening to give my full support behind SB1325. I could not imagine my life without my grandparents, and I think about them every single day. Even though three out of the four of them have passed on, I still carry with me the lessons they taught me, the morals they instilled in me, and the love they showed me. Without a doubt, grandparents play a vital role in the lives of their grandchildren. This bill allows courts to take into consideration the expressed consent, as proven by the grandparents, the wishes of the deceased parent in maintaining the grandparent/grandchild relationship. If something were to happen to me, I would want my parents to maintain a strong relationship with my children. Please pass SB1325 in its entirety; this is a bipartisan bill that allows grandparents to make their case without infringing upon parent rights. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Last Name: Price Locality: Washington County

My wife and I have the great fortune of being grandparents to three beautiful grandchildren. We cared for our grandchildren over many years beginning with each of their births. My wife and I experienced a tragic loss almost four years ago with the loss of our son / step-son, the children’s father. Our ability to continue our relationship with the children ended shortly after his death. Grandchildren should have access to their grandparents. Obviously, grandchildren have no ability to petition courts for this access, and because of this, it becomes the grandparent’s responsibility and obligation to do so. Virginia permits grandparents to seek visitation with grandchildren, but an incredibly high bar has been set in that actual harm has to be proven in order for courts to consider awarding visitation rights. This harm standard is not clearly defined. Our son / step-son no longer has the ability to make his wishes known, which we have no doubt would have been for the continuation of our access to his children. Our petition for visitation has been heard in court, but due to the harm factor, we have been denied access. The goal of SB1325 is to allow special consideration for grandparents who seek visitation with grandchildren after the loss of a child. This bill will not infringe on the rights of parents and maintains federal statutes. Research supports that grandparents play an extremely important role in the lives of their grandchildren, especially when the grandchildren have lost a parent. The passing of SB1325 will provide this chance to deserving grandparents and grandchildren.

Last Name: Lawson Locality: Washington County VA

Please pass SB1325 in it’s entirety. This bill allows the opportunity for the grandparents to present their case, while preserving the rights of the parent.

Last Name: Trent Locality: Washington

We urge this to be passed so we can see our grandchildren

Last Name: Robert Locality: Washington County

My grandparents were a big part of my life while I was growing up. Fishing with my grandpa while my dad was at work, stopping on my way home from school for some of grandma's cookies, etc. All children need to interact with grandparents that love them. Please pass this bill for the sake of the children!

Last Name: Carter Locality: Washington County, Va/

For 8 years we were the stability and home for our grandson who at the age of 11 was removed from our home when our son married. For 12 of the 14 months of his marriage, we were not allowed any verbal, physical, or written contact. Neither was the child allowed contact with any other friends or family. He was traumatized by his father's behavior. Due to our son's poor choices, he had to return him to our care and we have shared custody, If he was to regain full custody he would do the same thing again. The courts should consider all circumstances and make it mandatory that visitation can not be withheld from grandparents when they have acted as custodial parents. Please pass this bill for the rights of children and grandparents.

Last Name: Jones Locality: Washington County VAI

I think the GRANDPARENTS should have the right to have visitation rights with their grandchildren's.

Last Name: Anderson Locality: Washington

I am a retired school administrator with over 42 years in education. I've had the joy of seeing the positive impact grandparents have on their grand children. I've also witnessed the devastation on children when they have been removed from the influence and support of their grand parents. Children thrive when they have grandparents in their lives. They feel secure and happy with these established relationships. SB 1325 would allow grandparents to provide proof to a court of these relationships and what is in the best interest of the children. Please pass SB 1325 in its entirety; this bipartisan bill is greatly needed for our children and the future of the Commonwealth. "Nothing you do for our children is every wasted. "

Last Name: Campbell Locality: Saltville

Please pass this bill. Grandparents were an important part of my childhood. I remember going to the farm with Granddaddy and feeding the cows, pulling worms from the tobacco plants. I gotta nickel for each one I pulled.This bill would help children who have lost a parent to connect with that particular set of grand parents and enrich their lives.

Last Name: Davenport Locality: Washington

Grandparents have always and will continue to play a very important role in the lives of their grandchildren. This bill would allow the possibility of maintaining this relationship upon the death of a parent while protecting the rights of the living parent. Please pass SB1325 in its entirety.

Last Name: Matheny Locality: Albemarle County

My grandparents were a tremendous presence in my life. I can't imagine my life without their love and support. I was not as close to my fathers parents but, still have fond memories of them and wouldn't trade that relationship for anything. As a parent, having my son know, and form strong bond with other family is so important. It is extraordinary for a child to be loved by family other than their parents. Why would anyone want to cut off the live and support of grandparents.

Last Name: Jones Locality: Louisa

“This is a bipartisan consensus bill that respects parental rights, while allowing grandparents with special circumstances, to make their case; it’s fair for everyone.” “Grandparents play a vital role in children’s upbringing, and should be allowed the opportunity to present their case, while preserving the rights of the parent.” “This bill allows courts to take in consideration the expressed consent, as proven by the grandparents,  the wishes of the deceased parent in maintaining the grandparent/grandchild relationship.” “I cannot imagine not having my grandparents in my life as I grew up.” “Please pass SB1325 in its entirety; this is a bipartisan bill that allows grandparents to make their case, without infringing upon parental rights.”

Last Name: Hutchinson Locality: Washington

Because of my personal background, I urge you to pass Senate Bill 1325 in the House of Delegates to improve Virginia’s laws on grandparent visitation. My mother passed away when I was eleven years old; I had always been close to both my grandmothers, and spent a great deal of time with each of them. Both of these wonderful women enriched my life immeasurably. Thankfully, my father was completely supportive of my continuing to spend time with my maternal grandmother and extended family. My aunts and uncles invested time and attention in my future. I spent many hours and days with my dear cousins, and still maintain contact with them. Please consider the harm of depriving children of these significant influences and relationships; I know my life is one which was shaped and improved by the love and interaction with my entire family, and would wish the same for every child.

Last Name: Druzba Hicks Organization: Jo Matheny Locality: Charlottesville

Grandparents should be allowed time with their grandchildren. It should be an agreed and scheduled time. Not for grandparents to over step any boundaries.

Last Name: Kaurish Organization: Grandparents Rights Locality: Washington

We have neighbors who's only daughter died November 24, 2019 after 6 years of fighting cancer (They have a son but he has no children). She had custody of her 2 children from her former marriage. Almost all of their entire life was spent living with their grandparents. One of the grandchildren is 13 and the other one is 10. Both of them are girls and loved living on the farm where their grandparents live. They had their pets that they took care of plus loved taking care of baby animals when the parent of the animal would die. Every time they would get a new pet, they would call me and my husband to come to see their new pet. They were almost like our grandchildren. We have been very close to these neighbors and they have both worked for us during various times through the years. We are not related to them but sometimes it seems, as if we are, because of the bond we share with them. We are 74 and 76 years old and realize the importance that these grandparents role in their grandchildren's life. Last year in October, 2020 their daughter's ex-husband (father of these children) told the grandparents that they could not ever see the grandchildren. This was devastating to the grandparents and also their whole family. I was so upset that I did not know what to do because I have grandchildren, who I see on a regular basis, and would not know what to do, if I could never see them. Our neighbors were also very upset with him not letting them visit with their grandchildren. After their mother passed, when he (the ex-husband) needed a baby sitter, the grandparents would baby sit the children and was very happy to have their grandchildren in their home. I have never known any more grandparents that cared more for their grandchildren than this set of grandparents. I have know these people for over 40 years and they are one of the most well liked families in this county. Their daughter flew to Florida sometimes almost every month for treatments for this cancer. The grandparents paid for her, the grandchildren, and the grandparents to fly down there for a lot of these treatments or surgeries. My husband and I traveled down there on two different occasions when their daughter was having surgery. Those grandparents were there every time and if the children were in school, one of them stayed home to take care of the grandchildren or one of the other family members. Please pass this bill for grandparents such as these to be able to see their grandchildren. Thank you.

Last Name: Faidley Locality: BRISTOL

I consider myself very fortunate to have grown up knowing my maternal and paternal grandparents, especially being raised in a split home. I even had the joy of bonus grandparents on both sides of my family. Growing up, my maternal and paternal grandparents lived 5 hours away. If my mom went to see her parents, she always made sure to allpw us time with my fathers parents and vice versa. I would not be who I am, or where I am today without the added love and support of my grandparents and bonus grandparents. I currently have a bonus son. His mom lives 6 hours away, but his maternal grandmother only lives 1.5 hours from us. We meet her half way anytime she wants to see her grandchild, and allow her to talk to him anytime. Raising children truly takes a village, and grandparents are a huge asset in that village. Children need all the love and support they can get, especially this day and time.

Last Name: Jones Locality: Louisa

I was blessed to be raised by my grandparents and my Mother. They took care of me by giving me love and support while my mother worked. From them I also learned my family history and feel I would not be the person I am today had it not been for them. I ask that you please pass this bill so that all children can experience the type of relationship that I did. It will truly enhance the type of person they become. Parents should not feel their rights are violated by allowing grandparents to be a part of their children’s lives.

Last Name: Faidley Locality: Washington

I feel it is very important for grandchildren to be able to spend time with their grandparents. Grandparents see their grandchildren as an important part of their legacy. Through this close relationship grandchildren are able to gain historical and life living perspectives that they will always be able to use.

Last Name: Stanley Locality: Roanoke County

Grandparents are very important when it comes to a child’s upbringing. When children are being raised they need their grandparent’s love and affection. I cannot imagine not having my grandparents in my life as I grew up.Please pass SB1325 in its entirety; this is a bipartisan bill that allows grandparents to make their case, without infringing upon parental rights.

Last Name: Griffin Organization: Friends Locality: Washington County

I beseech you to please pass this bill for grandparents to have visitation with their grandchildren. My friend's son, who was also a VA State Trooper, committed suicide much to the happiness of his wife. Now his wife will not let his parents see the children, even in ballgames. These grand parents can offer the children so much love and want to. This lady is not only hurting the grand parents, she's hurting the children. Please do the right thing. Most of you either are now or will be grandparents, so please put yourselves in their shoes. Thank you.

Last Name: Moore Locality: Washington Co

I think grandparents should be permitted to spend time with their grandchildren. They need all the love and support of all family members. If a parent passes away or for some reason is not in the children's life grandparents or grandchildren should not be punished by not being allowed to be a part of their life. A parent should not be permitted to make the decision to keep them apart unless there is concern of a dangerous situation that could cause harm to the children. It seems like agencies don't take these concerns very serious as you hear of cases everyday. I have a loving relationship with my grandchildren and can't imagine the heart ache of not being able to share love ,companionship n quality time with them. Grandparents have a whole different world to share with them. Our children are our future and with guidance from us it can be very rewarding for children n grandparents Parents should realize the damage they are doing to a child who loses one parent and then grandparents to. They should never be put in this position. God gave us children to love protect, and teach and in return be loved and protected and cherished. Please consider this and vote to change this , allow grandparents to have visitation and a part on the lives of our precious future. Thank you

Last Name: Martz Locality: Charlottesville

My mom's parents lived ten minutes from my house growing up; my dad's parents lived seven. I saw both sets of grandparents at least once a week--at church, to be babysat, or to watch UVA basketball or Washington football. Their love and light in my life enriched my upbringing by providing an extra layer of nurturing, acceptance, and guidance for me as I grew up. My bond with them was uniquely unconditional and vitally important to my sense of self. SB1325 allows grandparents faced with tragic special circumstances an opportunity to preserve the grandparent/grandchild relationship, while preserving the rights of the parent at the same time. I urge you to pass SB1325 in its entirety.

Last Name: Cole Organization: Grandparents rights Locality: Damascus Va

I believe grandparents should have a right to see their grandchildren and be a part of their life. I cannot imagine suddenly not being able to spend time with my grand kids. But I have seen it happen and it is not fair to the grandchildren or the grandparent. Don’t silence the child. Give them a voice and grant grandparents visitation rights.

Last Name: Tran Locality: Richmond

Grandparents play a major role in the emotional and social well being of children. Disrupting already established relationships may be devastating to both the children and the grandparents. Please pass this bill to provide grandparents an opportunity to simply demonstrate this relationship is in the best interest of the children and would have been the wish of a deceased parent.

Last Name: Allison Organization: Grandparents Locality: Wasgington

I believe that grandparents should have the right to see their grand kids. In the case of a deceased parent the grand parents should have every right to see their grandchildren. When the grand child has been apart of their life and then suddenly ripped away from them this is wrong. A grandparent should not loose this child and then loose their grandchildren too all because the living parent doesn’t want them to see them. This is devastating to a child when they want to see their grandparents. The child’s wishes should be taken into consideration. Please pass a law giving grand parents visitation rights.

Last Name: Sutherand Locality: Abingdon

I lost my wife of 58 years in October and my grandchildren come by and visit mr weekly. It doesn’t replace my lost wife but it does help the burden of the loss. I cannot imagine not being able to see my grandchildren and I don’t think it’s right to keep a grandparent from their grandchildren - please strongly consider this bill as one of the most important bills you will vote on. Thank you for your consideration for this bill.

Last Name: Burchett Locality: Smyth

Growing up I only really knew one grandparent. Two died before I was born and one died when I was very young. However, my grandmother played such a vital role in my life. Some of my best childhood memories include her. There is a connection between grandparent and grandchild that exists only in that relationship. The deprivation of that from any child or grandparent is a travesty of that bond.

Last Name: Delmont Locality: Vienna

Families are complex. Kids do better when they have love in their lives, and the more people involved in their lives with the kid's best intentions at heart the better. It seems reasonable that a court would be able to assess if adding visitation from grand parents would be in a child's best interest. Courts already have a system in place to make these sorts of evaluations so there shouldn't be too much hardship for the State to make this change. If a parent dies, a child shouldn't necessarily be kept away from a whole half of their extended family.

Last Name: Massey Locality: Washington

I cannot begin to imagine not being able to see my grandchildren! Mine are the joy and light of my life! Think about what your grandchildren mean to you. There needs to be a change made here! I know firsthand what it means not to have grandparents in a life. It’s devastating. Three of mine passed away before I was born so needless to say, there was a big void in my life. I made sure my children knew their grandparents and had a meaningful relationship with them & I try to play an important part in my grandchildren’s lives.

Last Name: Thomas Locality: Abingdon

We are the grandparents of three grandchildren and we cannot imagine our lives without them. We know they have been a vital part of our lives but we also feel like we have been an important part of their lives. We feel like as grandparents we can not only help with everyday things but also feel like we can help nurture them because of our life experiences. I ask you to please pass bill Sb1325. Thank You!

Last Name: Holman Locality: Washington County, VA

This bill allows courts to take in consideration the expressed consent, as proven by the grandparents, the wishes of the deceased parent in maintaining the grandparent/grandchild relationship.

Last Name: McAllister Locality: Washington

As someone whose life has been positively influenced by my relationships with my grandparents from birth through adulthood, I find it disheartening that this relationship can so easily be severed simply by the death of a parent. I believe children should have a choice in the decision, and the grandparents should be given a legitimate opportunity to prove their established relationship with their grandchildren. Please, unanimously pass this bipartisan bill!!

Last Name: Farris-Luke Locality: Washington

As a grief educator and counselor for 29 years, I have witnessed first-hand the trauma that occurs when children and grandparents are kept apart following the death of the kids’ parent. I imagine the same challenges arise in the case of divorce and other separations in families. While I under the importance of respecting parental rights, there often are not valid reasons for prohibiting grandparent visitation. The grandparents can be a link to the child’s heritage and can provide invaluable connections that promote healing in grief for all concerned. Grief comes not just after death, but anytime there is a loss of relationship. This is a bipartisan effort that can only help facilitate healthier families and healthier grief journeys

Last Name: Doss Locality: Abingdon

This is very close to home because my godparents have been trying to see their grandchildren for several years since the passing of their son. There is no reason loving and caring people should be kept from them. All this does it cause more hurt for the children and grandparents who have already been through so much.

Last Name: Carlson, M.D. Locality: Arlington

This is a bipartisan consensus bill that respects parental rights, while allowing grandparents with special circumstances, to make their case; it’s fair for everyone. It allows courts to consider the expressed consent, as proven by the grandparents, the wishes of the deceased parent in maintaining the grandparent/grandchild relationship. Grandparents play a vital role in children’s upbringing, and should be allowed the opportunity to present their case, while preserving the rights of the parent. Please pass SB1325 in its entirety. Sincerely, Mary Susan Carlson, M.D, Resident of Arlington County, VA

Last Name: Salyer Locality: Bristol

Studies have repeatedly shown how invaluable the grandparent/grandchild relationship is to the fiber of a family. I can see in my own children how their lives, their characters have been positively influenced by their relationship to their grandparents. Even though some of them have passed, the stories of influence are still recanted now by my children to their children. Death often impacts the amount of time we have with grandparents, but it should not be limited by others. It’s too valuable and life is too short. Please, please pass SB1325 in it’s entirety. Thank you.

Last Name: Carlson Locality: Fairfax

I cannot imagine not having my grandparents in my life as I grew up. This bill allows courts to take in consideration the expressed consent, as proven by the grandparents, the wishes of the deceased parent in maintaining the grandparent/grandchild relationship. Please pass SB1325 in its entirety; this is a bipartisan bill that allows grandparents to make their case, without infringing upon parental rights. It’s fair for everyone.

Last Name: Anderson Locality: Emory

Please pass this bill, how else can a child learn about their past family if they can’t be with their grandparents, the ones who know about family members on that side of their family. What if a parent has passed away and the remaining parent will not tell the children about said parent, how will they ever know what a wonderful person that parent was. Grandparents are very important to their grandchildren, I know because I miss mine very much. So please pass the law for grandparents to have visitation rights. Thank you

Last Name: Anderson Locality: Emory

Please pass this bill, how else can a child learn about their past family if they can’t be with their grandparents, the ones who know about family members on that side of their family. What if a parent has passed away and the remaining parent will not tell the children about said parent, how will they ever know what a wonderful person that parent was. Grandparents are very important to their grandchildren, I know because I miss mine very much. So please pass the law for grandparents to have visitation rights. Thank you

Last Name: Seymore Locality: Damascus

To withhold the love of a grandparent toward a grandchild as a travesty! I cannot imagine my life without the love and support of my grandparents! I also cannot imagine my life as a grandparent without access to my grandchildren! Please right this wrong!

Last Name: Evans Organization: Grandparents Locality: Abingdon

I have watched my brother lose his son tragically April 2017. By summer he had no access to his 3 grandchildren. As an Aunt my heart broke. But to watch my brother lose his beloved son at the age of 32, and then the only grandchildren he has. The children of your children, is the most wonderful love. These grandchildren were with them some part of every wk. Please pass this bill for grandparents all over state of Va

Last Name: Neese Locality: Abingdon

Please pass this bill granting grandparent rights to have their grandchildren in their lives. I cannot imagine not having had my grandparents in my life. The children need their grandparents.

Last Name: Ashby Locality: Meadowview

As a child growing up, I cannot imagine not being able to spend time with my grandparents. They were such an important part of my life. As a grandparent now myself, it would be heartbreaking not seeing our granddaughter.

Last Name: Price Locality: Washington County

I am fortunate to be a grandmother of three, and to have spent years as a caretaker in my grandchildren’s lives in southwest Virginia – more than a decade for the oldest. Access to my grandchildren ceased when my son, a Virginia State Police sergeant, died tragically in 2017. So, I lost contact with four important people around the same time. Virginia currently allows for grandparents to ask for visitation with their grandchildren, but the law sets a remarkably high and nebulous bar to grant access. We are required to prove “actual harm” to grandchildren absent of visitation. “Actual harm” is not well-defined in the law, and proving it presents a nearly impossible standard. Despite the barriers, I KNOW my son would have wanted me to have a relationship with his children, my grandchildren. He always did when he was with us. But I have been unable to present evidence in court given the current law. I urge you to pass Senate Bill 1325 in the House of Delegates to improve Virginia’s laws on grandparent visitation. SB1325 would consider special circumstances of grandparents who have lost a child, and who are then petitioning for visitation with their grandchildren. Grandparents like me. It is a bipartisan, compromise bill that strongly preserves the rights of parents, in line with federal statutes. SB1325 is also supported by research that shows that grandparents play an important role in the lives of grandchildren, particularly after death of a parent (Barnett et al., Dunifon et al., Lussier et al.). Grandparents in Virginia would be given a chance to play this support role if SB1325 passes.

Last Name: Robertson Locality: Bedford County

My grandparents played a pivotal role in raising my brother and I and were irreplaceable role models in our upbringing. Every child deserves that. Every grandparent deserves the joy of seeing their legacy live on. I am heartened to see bipartisan support for a bill that will make our Commonwealth a better place for children.

Last Name: Williams Locality: Damascus, VA

We are the grandparents of three amazing children who were torn from our lives after their father (our son/step-son) died tragically almost four years ago. We do not have access to the children; therefore we cannot meet the (now) harm standards of the law to be granted visitation. These proposed changes will open doors that allow us, and many others like us who have established relationships with their grandchildren, to be provided that chance based on things we CAN prove, like our son’s desire to have us as a part of his children’s lives. Passing this bill provides opportunities for grandparents with already established relationships with their grandchildren to provide proof to a court of these relationships and what is in the best interest of the children. Thank you for your consideration.

SB1329 - Summons; promises to appear after issuance.
Last Name: DeBoard Organization: Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police (VACP) Locality: Herndon

The VACP supports SB 1329. We feel that the passage of this bill will eliminate unnecessary and avoidable confrontations with citizens. The refusal of an individual to sign a summons does not negate their responsibility to either prepay their fine or appear in court at the listed date and time. We feel this is a positive piece of legislation in line with other police reform bills. The VACP supports the concept of SB 1468 but continues to have concerns about language in a specific part of this bill. The bill states that we have to sign these certification forms if the applicant is a victim of a qualifying crime. There are two other reasons we can and are expected to deny signing a U-Visa certification form: if the victim failed to cooperate or they have been involved and convicted in serious crimes themselves. The language in question is found in lines 66-70, which states: “If the certifying official cannot determine whether the applicant is a victim of qualifying criminal activity or determines that the applicant does not qualify, the certifying official shall provide a written explanation to the person or the person's representative setting forth reasons why the available evidence does not support a finding that the person is a victim of qualifying criminal activity.” What needs to be added to the end of this sentence is “… or otherwise does not qualify.” This additional language is needed to provide chiefs or other certifying authorities the ability to deny signing these forms when they don’t meet any one of the qualifications, not just whether they are a victim of a certifying crime. For example, we cannot sign a form knowing a victim has not cooperated or refused to cooperate just because they were a victim. The code section needs to be more clear here to ensure we are not being required to put our signatures on a form when we know that someone fails one of the tests to qualify. We want to help our immigrant communities and provide them fair and consistent access to this federal process and we support requiring that agencies have a process in place to process these certification forms and publicly post these procedures. We do, however, want to ensure we are not making this process subject to additional abuse and fraud. We cannot sign these forms simply because they were a victim of a qualifying crime. They must also meet the other standards at the time that the forms are presented to us. From an integrity standpoint, we cannot put our signatures on a form that supports someone who we know is not cooperating

Last Name: Laura Bateman Organization: Virginia First Cities Locality: City of Richmond

Virginia First Cities urges you to please support SB 1329. Placing an individual under arrest merely for refusing to sign a summons can quickly escalate into a much more dire situation, placing both the officer and the civilian in an unfortunate and unnecessary confrontation. When an individual refuses to sign a summons, the officer should have the option to indicate such refusal on the paperwork, provide a copy to the person, and conclude the incident. Virginia First Cities asks that Code of Virginia be amended to no longer require an arrest in this circumstance.

SB1336 - Restricted permits to operate a motor vehicle; ignition interlock systems.
No Comments Available
SB1339 - Police and court records; expungement and sealing of records, Expungement Fee Fund created.
No Comments Available
SB1391 - Pretrial data collection; VCSC to collect and disseminate on an annual basis.
Last Name: Shabazz Organization: Criminal Injustice Reform Network Locality: Chesterfield

I wonder if you all are aware of what happens when a parent is falsely accused of abuse or neglect? The definition is so vague and subjective that it gives all types of room for arbitrary hearings that encourage the removal of children from their families. I am asking for any of you to reach out to me so you can experience first hand what happens once a child enters the infant to prison pipeline or the foster to sex trafficking to prison pipeline or worst. I am opposing this bill and hoping that the entire definition can be changed to one that embodies the truth instead of and assumption.

SB1397 - Geriatric or terminally ill inmates; conditional release, notice to attorney for the Commonwealth.
No Comments Available
SB1415 - Protective orders; violations of preliminary child protective order, changes punishment, etc.
No Comments Available
SB1426 - Orders of restitution; docketed on behalf of victim, enforcement.
No Comments Available
SB1431 - Unrestorably incompetent defendant; competency report.
No Comments Available
SB1437 - Summons; promises to appear after the issuance.
No Comments Available
SB1442 - Public defender office; establishes an office for the County of Chesterfield.
Last Name: Brigham Locality: Richmond

Please support this bill.

Last Name: Córdova Locality: Chesterfield

SB1442. It's time to correct pretrial injustices and the fundamental rights of the people of Chesterfield.

Last Name: Hernandez Locality: Richmond

I urge the House to pass Senate Bill 1442. Our pre-trial detention system is cruel and defendants deserve adequate representation as they await trial. This is an important equity issue to address the racism and classism in our criminal justice system.

Last Name: McElwain Locality: N Chesterfield

People with few economic resources or whose living situation is impacted negatively for this lack of resources need an advocate to ensure fairness for all in our justice system. I have formerly incarcerated friends who now advocate for criminal justice reform and have seen first-hand the impacts of our justice system on disadvantaged citizens. Around 80% of detainees in Chesterfield County are indigent from data citizens, including me, collected from New Virginia Majority's Court Watch program which was active in Chesterfield County before the pandemic and which we hope to resume their soon.

Last Name: Osinkosky Locality: Richmond

I urge the House to pass SB 1442!

Last Name: Christopher Rashad Green Organization: Community Organizer for the People Locality: Richmond

The Citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and specifically the residents of Chesterfield County, all need this bill to move forward. As a formerly incarcerated individual who has experienced years of pretrial detention and mass supervision, I know how thousands of individuals have in the past, and currently are experiencing horrendous conditions in our current system, due to the fact that they don't have a State Advocate on their behalf. This bill will provide that for thousands in Virginia. This bill will address the inequities and injustices thousands face in the current pretrial system, where 80% of detainees are indigent, where Pretrial Assessment tools are racist and bias, the lack of quality Legal Representation, and all this disproportionately affects Black folks, people of color, and the poor! I urge the House to pass SB 1442!!!

Last Name: Gaborik Locality: Richmond

SB 1266 - Removing the presumption against bail allows for Judges to evaluate bail in a more fair and just manner which aligns with the core tenet of presumption of innocence. Judges can and should be allowed to determine bail on a case by case basis without being forced to start at a presumption against bond. Arbitrary pretrial incarceration makes it difficult for defendant's to assist in their defense and can lead to mental health and medical issues associated with the poor treatment of inmates, especially during a pandemic. SB1315 - Our justice system must include language that allows for the defendant's mental health to be addressed during the case in chief. This bill allows for our state to become more in line with the Model Penal Code. I have had dozens of cases as a criminal defense attorney over the last two decades where an individual with significant mental health issues did not meet the very rigid and narrow definition of insanity and instead were incarcerated for substantial amounts of time after a guilty verdict. These individuals should have been able to present evidence of their mental health at the time of the offense when determining guilt or innocence. It was a travesty of justice that they could not and it is time for Virginia to recognize the need to give those suffering from mental health other avenues for justice. SB1442 - As a former public defender in the City of Richmond I encourage the members of this Committee to vote in support of a Public Defender's Office in the County of Chesterfield. I practice frequently in this County and can say the level of representation by the court appointed counsel is substantially hindered by the lack of resources and low pay for these attorneys. A Public Defender's Office helps level the playing field for indigent defendants by providing those resources currently not available to court appointed counsel, as well as, not making counsel dependent upon the Judge for their source of income. A defendant represented by a Public Defender would have access to an investigator in their case, regardless of the severity. Currently, only the most serious of charges warrants the granting of funds for an investigator. This means defendant's facing misdemeanors and low level felonies, that could result in jail time, do not have access to an investigator who could help locate witnesses, canvas scenes, and provide other pretrial work the attorney cannot or should not be doing. Additionally, the Public Defender's office would have mitigation specialists on staff to help with complex cases or complex defendant's who need more help at the pretrial or sentencing phase of a case. Additionally, thanks to the substantial number of Public Defender Offices across the state attorneys would have access to brief and motions banks for trial and appellate purposes. Lastly, attorneys in this office would have supervision and daily oversight to insure they are held to the high standards put in place by the Indigent Defense Commission for representation of their clients. Real reform of our justice system must include the ability to have counsel that is both qualified and has the resources necessary to be effective in their representation. Thank you.

SB1443 - Mandatory minimum sentences; elimination, modification of sentence to mandatory minimum term.
Last Name: Turner Organization: Valley Justice Coalition Locality: Rockingham

Hello, We are asking you to please vote YES for SB1443 to Repeal ALL Mandatory Minimums. HB2331 is not broad enough and excludes many nonviolent offenses. We are asking that you include ALL Mandatory Minimums in the final bill, but if a compromise is necessary, look to the Earned Sentence Credits Bill for a source of compromise. Thank you for making HB2331 retroactive. Please amend SB1443 to also include those currently serving excessively long mandatory minimum sentences. Mandatory Minimums can no longer be a part of Virginia's criminal justice system in the future and it is intolerable to allow them to continue to unjustly affect those serving them now. Thank you. Gary and Debra Turner

Last Name: Nance Organization: Sistas in Prison Reform Locality: Henrico

My name is Santia Nance from Sistas in Prison Reform and BrillianceBehindBars and I urge you to pass SB1443, ending all mandatory minimums, instead of considering HB2331 which only covers drug charges. My loved one Quadaire Patterson is currently behind bars due to a stacked mandatory minimum sentence due to use of a firearm charges in a wrongful conviction. While we know the standard arguments about how mandatory minimums don’t work for recidivism, public safety, or fair trials, we still have vastly different bills on the table and we must push for SB1443. If you’re on the fence about this bill, ask yourself: Is it the excluded crimes you want to be harder on, or is it the people who are convicted for them? We both agree that non-violent crimes - those where no one was hurt - should NOT carry mandatory minimums. I urge you all to rethink the fact that charges used to dictate sentences, do not represent the full situation or indicate a violent crime nor a violent person. Let the judges and juries do their jobs hearing specifics cases and using the sentencing guidelines, instead of mandatory minimums, to determine the time that fits the crime. Let the system work the way it’s supposed to.Let’s do the right thing and bring fairness back to Virginia. Thank you.

Last Name: Belton Organization: Sistas in Prison Reform Locality: Brockton

It is tiring writing statements and speaking up for laws that are blatantly wrong because senators are going to come with their made up stats and lies to prevent what's right. mandatory minimums give judges you all appoint their jobs back. They also eliminate racist sentencing towards black and brown people. But that's not enough for you all. That last part should be the biggest issue and it isn't which makes Virginia the worst. It is time you all get on the RIGHT side of justice and retroactively. REPEAL ALL MANDATORY MINIMUMS

Last Name: Whitlock Locality: Louisa

I oppose SB1443 : "Eliminates all mandatory minimum sentences of confinement from the Code of Virginia...." (CHAOTIC, SWEEPING, AND IRRESPONSIBLE) "The bill directs the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security to establish a work group (WHO WOULD COMPRISE THIS WORK GROUP?) to evaluate (WHAT ARE THE CRITERIA FOR EVALUATION?) the feasibility of resentencing persons previously convicted of a felony offense (WHY FELONIES?) that was punishable by a mandatory minimum term of confinement...." The work group would report on its findings by November 1, 2021. As introduced, this bill was a recommendation of the Virginia State Crime Commission. Sentencing for crimes, particularly felonies, is too serious of an issue to approach it so broadly. It seems political, arbitrary, and irresponsible.

Last Name: Manch Locality: Albemarle

Please vote NO to SB1443. This bill leaves too many citizens vulnerable and is NOT supported by victims - myself included. Within the past 2 years I was the victim in 3 jury trials due to crimes taking place in different jurisdictions. Over the course of these trials, I worked with SIX Commonwealth Attorneys. They genuinely and actively sought my input on sentence outcome - from start to finish, while considering the MM’s on the table. Removing ALL minimums is a knee-jerk, pacifying move that ignores the Crime Commission’s own findings - not all MM crimes are racially disproportionate. Example: Sexual assault statutes included in SB1443 show white men as the largest offender. In the larger scope of criminal justice reform, are we considering how each piece of new legislation fits together? If not, who is left unprotected? Sen Edwards says the sentencing guidelines will be there, but the current guidelines are impacted by the presence of a MM. Do we know what these ranges will look like once MM’s are removed? Have we considered the inevitable sentencing inconsistencies due to the wide ranges the guidelines suggest? If we take the time to thoughtfully adjust MM’s, criminal justice reform can happen in parallel. Prosecutors have the option to reduce/drop charges and progressive Prosecutors have openly moved toward this practice in the name of reform. Our laws took time and evidence-based data to create. Change should follow this same model.

Last Name: Turner Organization: Valley Justice Coalition Locality: Harrisonburg

Hello, We are asking you to please vote YES for SB1443 to Repeal ALL Mandatory Minimums. HB2331 is not broad enough and excludes many nonviolent offenses. We are asking that you include ALL Mandatory Minimums in the final bill, but if a compromise is necessary, look to the Earned Sentence Credits Bill. Thank you for making HB2331 retroactive. Please amend SB1443 to also include those currently serving excessively long mandatory minimum sentences. Mandatory Minimums can no longer be a part of Virginia's criminal justice system in the future and it is intolerable to allow them to continue to unjustly affect those serving them now. Thank you. Gary and Debra Turner

Last Name: Harris Organization: Mothers Against Drunk Driving Locality: City of Fairfax

MADD opposes SB 1443 unless if the proposal is amended to ensure that all impaired driving offenses are subject minimum sentencing guidelines. Thank you, Frank Harris MADD Director of State Government Affairs

Last Name: Edwards Locality: Roanoke

Please remove mandatory minimums they do nothing but harm people. No case should ever be cut and dry and the punishment should be decided by judges who can take all evidence into account before condemning to jail maybe we should focus on helping people with addiction get and stay clean,assist in getting jobs so they don't fall back into same patterns. Would you want everyone who has a medical condition to be seen ,and treated the same, without looking at the individual person and all medical history where we set a individual plan of care related to their circumstances to help them heal? Every person has individual needs even if they have the same medical diagnosis. The same should work with the law. There are many extenuating circumstances in many cases and having a set punishment for all cases is wrong . Judges are on the bench because they have shown they are held in high esteem for there decision making skills and that they are sworn to uphold the law and to render judgements and sentencing in a fair just manor. So is it not time for judges to be able to see the case and evidence and then pass sentences without being told the punishment and limiting their ability to see each case as individual with its own circumstances. Judges like doctors should have the ability to follow basic sentences for a crime as a doctor would for each disease process but should be able to also adjust punishment according to each individual case as a doctor creates a plan of care for each individual patient.

Last Name: Hakes Organization: VACDL Locality: Albemarle County

Mandatory Minimum sentences are unnecessary. Trust judges to be judges. The General Assembly put them on the bench. They know the case and the players. We already have sentencing guidelines. In addition, some prosecutors use Mandatory Minimum sentences to stack offenses and create a huge "trial penalty" - forcing individuals to plead guilty and give up their right to trial.

SB1456 - Juveniles; eligibility for commitment to the Department of Juvenile Justice.
No Comments Available
SB1461 - Bribery in correctional facilities; penalty.
No Comments Available
SB1465 - Illegal gambling; skill games, definitions, enforcement by localities and Attorney General.
No Comments Available
SB1468 - Victims of crime; certifications for victims of qualifying criminal activity.
Last Name: DeBoard Organization: Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police (VACP) Locality: Herndon

The VACP supports SB 1329. We feel that the passage of this bill will eliminate unnecessary and avoidable confrontations with citizens. The refusal of an individual to sign a summons does not negate their responsibility to either prepay their fine or appear in court at the listed date and time. We feel this is a positive piece of legislation in line with other police reform bills. The VACP supports the concept of SB 1468 but continues to have concerns about language in a specific part of this bill. The bill states that we have to sign these certification forms if the applicant is a victim of a qualifying crime. There are two other reasons we can and are expected to deny signing a U-Visa certification form: if the victim failed to cooperate or they have been involved and convicted in serious crimes themselves. The language in question is found in lines 66-70, which states: “If the certifying official cannot determine whether the applicant is a victim of qualifying criminal activity or determines that the applicant does not qualify, the certifying official shall provide a written explanation to the person or the person's representative setting forth reasons why the available evidence does not support a finding that the person is a victim of qualifying criminal activity.” What needs to be added to the end of this sentence is “… or otherwise does not qualify.” This additional language is needed to provide chiefs or other certifying authorities the ability to deny signing these forms when they don’t meet any one of the qualifications, not just whether they are a victim of a certifying crime. For example, we cannot sign a form knowing a victim has not cooperated or refused to cooperate just because they were a victim. The code section needs to be more clear here to ensure we are not being required to put our signatures on a form when we know that someone fails one of the tests to qualify. We want to help our immigrant communities and provide them fair and consistent access to this federal process and we support requiring that agencies have a process in place to process these certification forms and publicly post these procedures. We do, however, want to ensure we are not making this process subject to additional abuse and fraud. We cannot sign these forms simply because they were a victim of a qualifying crime. They must also meet the other standards at the time that the forms are presented to us. From an integrity standpoint, we cannot put our signatures on a form that supports someone who we know is not cooperating

Last Name: Dana Schrad Organization: Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police and Foundation, Inc. Locality: Glen Allen

The VACP supports the concept of this bill but continues to have concerns about language in a specific part of this bill. We previously asked that this language be addressed. The bill states that we have to sign these certification forms if the applicant is a victim of a qualifying crime. There are two other reasons we can and are expected to deny signing a U-Visa certification form: if the victim failed to cooperate or they have been involved and convicted in serious crimes themselves. The language in question is found in lines 66-70, which states: “If the certifying official cannot determine whether the applicant is a victim of qualifying criminal activity or determines that the applicant does not qualify, the certifying official shall provide a written explanation to the person or the person's representative setting forth reasons why the available evidence does not support a finding that the person is a victim of qualifying criminal activity.” What needs to be added to the end of this sentence is “… or otherwise does not qualify.” This additional language is needed to provide chiefs or other certifying authorities the ability to deny signing these forms when they don’t meet any one of the qualifications, not just whether they are a victim of a certifying crime. For example, we cannot sign a form knowing a victim has not cooperated or refused to cooperate just because they were a victim. The code section needs to be more clear here to ensure we are not being required to put our signatures on a form when we know that someone fails one of the tests to qualify. We want to help our immigrant communities and provide them fair and consistent access to this federal process and we support requiring that agencies have a process in place to process these certification forms and publicly post these procedures. We do, however, want to ensure we are not making this process subject to additional abuse and fraud. We cannot sign these forms simply because they were a victim of a qualifying crime. They must also meet the other standards at the time that the forms are presented to us. From an integrity standpoint, we cannot put our signatures on a form that supports someone who we know is not cooperating.

Last Name: DeBoard Organization: Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police (VACP) Locality: Herndon

The VACP supports the concept of this bill but continues to have concerns about language in a specific part of this bill. We previously asked that this language be addressed but it has not been amended. The bill says we have to sign these certification forms if the applicant is a victim of a qualifying crime. There are two other reasons we can and are expected to deny signing a U-Visa certification form: if the victim failed to cooperate or they have been involved and convicted in serious crimes themselves. Lines 66-70 state: “If the certifying official cannot determine whether the applicant is a victim of qualifying criminal activity or determines that the applicant does not qualify, the certifying official shall provide a written explanation to the person or the person's representative setting forth reasons why the available evidence does not support a finding that the person is a victim of qualifying criminal activity.” What needs to be added to the end of this sentence is “… or otherwise does not qualify.” This additional language is needed to provide chiefs or other certifying authorities the ability to deny signing these forms when they don’t meet any one of the qualifications, not just whether they are a victim of a certifying crime. For example, we cannot sign a form knowing a victim has not cooperated or refused to cooperate just because they were a victim. The code section needs to be more clear here to ensure we are not being required to put our signatures on a form when we know that someone fails one of the tests to qualify. We want to help our immigrant communities to have access to this process and we support requiring that agencies have a process in place to process these certification forms and publicly post these procedures. We do, however, want to ensure we are not making this process subject to additional abuse and fraud. We cannot sign these forms simply for them qualifying. They must meet the other standards at the time that the forms are presented to us. From an integrity standpoint, I cannot put my signature on a form that supports someone who I know is not cooperating.

Last Name: Larios Organization: Murray Osorio PLLC Locality: FAIRFAX

My name is Cindy Larios and I'm an immigration attorney in Fairfax, VA. I'm here today to speak in support of SB 1468. Prior to moving back to my home state of Virginia, I was practicing law in Chicago, IL, working primarily with survivors of human trafficking and sexual assault. In 2018, IL passed the VOICES act, which is similar to the bill proposed today. The VOICES act was proposed and passed because throughout IL, victims of these horrific crimes were being largely ignored by law enforcement agencies in certain regions of the state. Prior to the VOICES act, advocates were met with a great deal of resistance from certain law enforcement agencies when requesting a certification. Resistance ranging from a lack of training or understanding of the certification which caused agencies to not have protocols in place to assist victims, to outright refusals to entertain certification requests based on bipartisan opinions on immigration. These are issues which we here in Virginia encounter every day when assisting victims. Since the VOICES Act passed in Illinois, some of the most important improvements we saw in included that: 1) counties and agencies that previously refused to cooperate with victims and advocates started to respond. This created an open line of communication with law enforcement agencies and allowed for training on the issues; 2) some rural counties have used the VOICES act as a blueprint to better support and engage the immigrant victims of crime in their jurisdiction; 3) even when certifications are denied, giving a victim a reason why has been incredibly helpful not just for the victim but also for the law enforcement agencies. One notable reason is that it has allowed for criminal cases to be re-opened when lack of victim cooperation was due to a simple mistake in the noted contact information. I want these same improvements for Virginia. Just a few weeks ago, I received a denial of certification request for a Virginia resident who was the victim of domestic violence. This victim reported one of the many assaults, obtained an order of protection, and assisted in the prosecution of her abuser. After receiving the denial, I called the police department and was bounced around to two officers who each told me they were not aware why the request was denied. One officer however, stated he would look into it and get back to me. I then received an email from him ending with, “this Police Department does not offer an explanation for the decision to sign or to not sign a certification.” Our victims simply deserve more.

SB1475 - Search warrants; date and time of issuance, exceptions.
Last Name: Taulbee Organization: Grandparent Group Locality: Coeburn

I raise a great grandchild and I have been the only positive influence in that child’s life. This child would have been in foster care if not for me. However her parents could come in her life and take her away from me although I have now raised her to being a teenager. This would be detrimental for this child. Please consider the numbers of grandparent and great grandparents that are in similar situations as my own. Please consider the sacrifices that grandparents make for their grandchildren and stand in unison with the thousands of grandparents across the state that support one of the best bills that has ever been proposed to the VA General Assembly.

End of Comments