Lawmakers tighten sex-offender restrictions

Adults convicted of sexually violent offenses would be barred from entering school buses and would have to submit a DNA sample under two bills headed toward approval in the General Assembly.

House Bill 2066 “expands the prohibition on entry onto school grounds by any adult convicted of a sexually violent offense to include any school bus.” The measure was approved unanimously by the House on Feb. 8 and by the Senate last week.

The Senate broadened the prohibition to include any public or private property being used for a school-related or school-sponsored activity. That change now must be considered by the House.

The bill’s patron, Delegate Rob Bell, R-Charlottesville, said that people convicted of a sexually violent offense present a threat to children. He said it is important to make sure students are safe on their way to school -- especially on a bus where other adults may not be present.

“Every parent of a student puts his boy or girl on the bus and takes a leap of faith that his child will get to school safely,” Bell said. “This is an effort to help keep that faith.”

He said HB 2066 is an extension of a law passed in 2007 that prohibits sexually violent offenders from entering school property.

“I patroned the original law, which was prompted by a sex offender who visited a Central Virginia elementary school dressed as Santa Claus,” Bell said.
Bell said the Virginia State Police suggested expanding the ban to school buses.

Bell also is sponsoring HB 2065. He said it would “require the collection of (deoxyribonucleic acid) DNA samples upon a conviction for additional sex offenses, including sexual battery, ‘peeping,’ and sexual abuse by an adult of a child who is 14 or 15. It would also authorize the taking of DNA samples pursuant to a plea agreement among all the parties.”

HB 2065 also cleared the House and Senate on unanimous votes. The Senate substituted its own version of the bill; on Friday, the House unanimously approved the Senate substitute.

Bell said that currently, the state can collect DNA samples for violators of some sex offenses, but not the ones he has listed in the bill. He said the new law would expand the DNA database because it is adding additional sex offenses to the list.

“DNA in the database can be used to determine if the defendant commits a sex offense in the future,” Bell said. “DNA helps ensure that the guilty person is caught.”

HB 2065 was suggested by the Virginia Department of Forensic Science as a way of improving the DNA database, Bell said.

Bell said that upon conviction, the defendant will be required to provide a DNA sample for inclusion in the database.

“Improving the DNA database will help us catch the perpetrator if he ever re-offends in the future,” Bell said. “DNA helps us catch and punish the guilty just as it helps exonerate the innocent.”

To track or comment on House Bill 2065, visit http://www.richmondsunlight.com/bill/2011/hb2065. To track or comment on HB 2066, visit http://www.richmondsunlight.com/bill/2011/hb2066.
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RVA Polar Plunge raises $40k for Special Olympics


More than 300 participants took the plunge for charity Feb. 25 at The Shops at Willow Lawn, raising $40,000 for the Special Olympics of Virginia as part of the 2017 RVA Polar Plunge Fest. Participants jumped into frigid water as part of the event, having raised money through donations leading up to the event.

“At Special Olympics Virginia, our vision is to inspire the first unified generation; a generation of people who respectfully include each other in the school, in the workplace, in the community,” said Rick Jeffrey, Special Olympics Virginia President. “Plunging this past Saturday included people with intellectual disabilities and those without; people of all ages, genders, races and religions; students and teachers; doctors and lawyers; military and law enforcement; one for all; all for one." > Read more.

Fundraiser bags more than $50k


CancerLINC's 11th annual "It’s in the Bag" event raised more than $50,000. The event, presented by Virginia Cancer Institute, was held at The Westin Richmond in Henrico Feb. 2 and was attended by more than 200 people.

“It's in the Bag” included handbag designer Thaddeus DuBois and his family from Syracuse, Ind. DuBois brought four handcrafted handbags, which were auctioned off and raised more than $4,000. Three autographed handbags from “Sex and the City” star Sarah Jessica Parker also brought funds. > Read more.

A date with states


Above, Varina’s Andre Watkins drives to the basket during the Blue Devils’ 52-51 win against Hampton in the Group 5A third-place game at Hermitage High School Feb. 25. Below, Tyrese Jenkins drives to the basket during the game. The Blue Devils (21-6 on the season), who earlier last month defeated Hermitage, 53-34, to earn a spot in the 5A state tournament, next will face Albemarle in that tournament. It is the program’s first trip to the state tournament since 2001 and first under fourth-year coach Andrew Lacey, who has turned around a team that was 6-14 during his first season. > Read more.

Future public servants observe lawmaking firsthand


For the past two months, they showed up every day at the state Capitol, dressed in matching blazers and carrying pen and paper at the ready – the next generation of public servants carefully observing their superiors.

These young adults are known as pages. They are middle school and high school students from around Virginia who assist in everyday tasks at the General Assembly to experience firsthand how the legislative process works.

The program dates as far back as 1850, when the one page who worked was paid $2 a day. > Read more.

CRLC seeks donations for Malvern Hill Farm


The Capital Region Land Conservancy (CRLC) is seeking to raise $100,000 in 30 days to cover due diligence and closing costs associated with the historic Malvern Hill Farm. These include boundary survey, Phase I ESA, title search and insurance, recording fees, taxes, and legal work as well as a Section 106 review.

CRLC is scheduled to close on the purchase of the property May 31, and is asking community members to help support the site's acquisition. All donations will help CRLC leverage $1 million in matching funds. > Read more.
Community

Villa’s Flagler Housing wins national NAEH award


St. Joseph's Villa’s Flagler Housing & Homeless Services was one of three entities to earn the National Alliance to End Homelessness' Champion of Change Award. The awards were presented Nov. 17 during a ceremony at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

NAEH annually recognizes proven programs and significant achievements in ending child and family homelessness.

Flagler completed its transition from an on-campus shelter to the community-based model of rapid rehousing in 2013, and it was one of the nation's first rapid re-housing service providers to be certified by NAEH. > Read more.

RIR’s Christmas tree lighting rescheduled for Dec. 12


Richmond International Raceway's 13th annual Community Christmas tree lighting has been rescheduled from Dec. 6 to Monday, Dec. 12, at 6:30 p.m., due to inclement weather expected on the original date.

Entertainment Dec. 12 will be provided by the Laburnum Elementary School choir and the Henrico High School Mighty Marching Warriors band. Tree decorations crafted by students from Laburnum Elementary School and L. Douglas Wilder Middle School will be on display. Hot chocolate and cookies will be supplied by the Henrico High School football boosters. > Read more.
Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


Given the warm weather lately, Saturday’s RVA Polar Plunge Winter Fest, benefiting Special Olympics Virginia, might actually be enjoyable! Other weekend events you’re sure to enjoy include the 14th annual Richmond Kids Expo at the Richmond Raceway Complex, the Richmond Symphony and The Taters in concert at The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen, and the Richmond Ballet Minds in Motion Team XXL performing at the Henrico Theatre. This is also the last weekend to check out HATTheatre’s production of “Bill W. and Dr. Bob.” For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

 

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