Del. Christopher K. Peace (R-Hanover) reports on several legislative successes at what is officially termed, “Crossover.” At this mid-point of the legislative session, several items on Del. Peace’s legislative agenda passed the House and will now be heard by the Senate of Virginia. House Bill 1312, which passed unanimously on February 16th, creates a special license plate in memory and honor of the late Hanover educator Meg Menzies. Peace’s bill will direct DMV to issue license plates for supporters of Meg’s Miles, raising awareness of safety of runners. Menzies was tragically killed while running on Route 54 with her husband, an Ashland police officer. “This legislation and subsequent plate will generate more awareness of drunk and distracted driving as well as honor Meg’s memory,” said Peace.
“Not just as an accomplished athlete, but as a devoted mother, sister, daughter and wife, in her short life of 34 years Meg was able to make a tremendous impact to people all over the Richmond region as a mentor for fellow athletes, and others for good will. This license plate is meant to provoke conversation and a sense of community whether it be runners, walkers, families, people of faith and anyone wanting to make a difference in the world around them,” expressed Ryan Hudson, who helped organize special plate initiative.
On behalf of Virginia’s state recognized tribes in King William County and others across the Commonwealth, Del. Peace introduced House Bill 814. HB 814 is a measure to authorize the Secretary of the Commonwealth, as liaison to these tribes, to establish a Virginia Indian advisory board to assist him in reviewing applications seeking recognition as a Virginia Indian tribe and to make recommendations to the Secretary, the Governor, and the General Assembly on such applications and other matters relating to recognition. The bill sets out the membership and powers and duties of any Virginia Indian advisory board established by the Secretary of the Commonwealth.
Speaking to passage of the bill, Stephen Adkins, Chief of the Chickahominy Tribe, “HB 814 provides a much needed, credible process for according state recognition to Indian groups seeking recognition as Virginia Indian Tribes. As described in HB 814, an advisory council, which includes scholars/experts in subject matter required to distinguish between Indian groups and Indian tribes, will vet documentation and provide objective feedback to inform the legislature’s decision regarding granting state recognition to Indian Groups.”
“As Chief of the Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribe, I think House Bill 814 is the only proper way to deal with recognition issues with Tribes and Tribal Groups of Virginia. A Virginia Indian Advisory Board is the only logical way to review these requests and make educated recommendations to the General Assembly,” stated Frank Adams, Chief of the Upper Mattaponi Tribe.
Eli’s Law, introduced as House Bill 682 patroned by Peace, was incorporated into House Bill 177 and passed by a vote of 99-0. Eli’s Law will require those who commit malicious bodily injury or aggravated malicious bodily injury against a child under 13 years of age to be placed on the Virginia Sex Offenders & Crimes Against Minors registry. Placement of offenders on the register alerts parents and businesses to take extra precautions to ensure that children are not placed in dangerous situations.
Speaking in committee, Peace commented, “I think that common sense tells you that if you’re going to take an infant child and bash its brain in then you’re going to be pretty likely to commit some other type of crime later. I think public notice is the minimum that we would expect in certain circumstances such as that.”
Talking about the passage of Eli’s Law, Mechanicsville constituent, who is the child’s mother, Courtney Maddox stated, “My son, nearly lost his life to abuse in 2010. I went to Delegate Peace after noticing there was no law that requires those who nearly kill children, to be placed on the Crimes Against Minors registry. [Peace] took this very seriously and he created legislation known as Eli's Law. I thank him for seeking to protect our most valuable resource, our children. I thank Chris, for all he is doing for our families, our community and most of all, our children.”
Another important Peace measure passed unanimously, House Bill 668 provides that a court shall consider the circumstances and factors that contributed to the dissolution of the marriage, specifically including any ground for divorce, in determining the nature, amount, and duration of a spousal support award. This legislative idea was brought to Peace by a constituent who was a victim of domestic violence. She pressed charges on her assaulter who was subsequently convicted and incarcerated. When she divorced her assaulter while he was incarcerated, the judge awarded him spousal support. Peace felt that no victim should be compelled to pay their attacker and took steps to prevent this from happening in the future with this common sense legislation. “To allow otherwise is truly insult to injury,” said Peace, an attorney.
Also passing at Crossover, by a vote of 97-2, House Bill 675 will allow Auxiliary Grant (AG) beneficiaries to live in supportive housing closer to communities in which they reside. This bill will allow individuals with disabilities and/or specialized housing needs a broader choice of housing options to meet their needs. An AG is an income supplement for individuals who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and certain other aged, blind, or disabled individuals who reside in a licensed assisted living facility (ALF) or an approved adult foster care (AFC) home.
“Virginian’s deserve access to quality, affordable healthcare, and this measure will increase portability and choice in this vulnerable population primarily those with mental illness,” said Delegate Chris Peace (R-Hanover), yet far too often, local communities are denied increased access to basic services.”
“Decisions made by unelected bureaucrats lead to less choice and higher costs. Delegate Peace has been a champion for reforming our COPN laws so that local communities and private businesses partner in the selection of services needed in their backyard while allowing competition to drive costs down.”
At the beginning of the 2016 session, Delegate Peace joined several other senior Republican members of the Virginia House of Delegates to introduce legislation to reform Virginia’s Certificate of Public Need (COPN) laws. Policies spanned from full repeal to various other significant reforms to COPN, to create a more free-market healthcare system, improve access to quality and affordable care for patients while controlling costs. COPN measures passed and will now be heard by the Senate. Peace is the chief co-patron of House Bills 193 and 350.
“As you can see from these bills, working to enact common sense policies to increase the quality of life of residents of the 97th District and across the Commonwealth is top priority for me. I am proud to have taken repeated steps forward as we meet the half way point of the 2016 session. I urge you to contact your Senator to encourage his support of these important measures,” said Peace.