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Del. Ken Plum: The Rest of the Session

by Del. Ken Plum March 22, 2018 at 10:15 am 7 Comments

This is a commentary from Del. Ken Plum (D-Fairfax), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

On March 26, Senator Janet Howell and I will meet with constituents at the Reston Community Center at Lake Anne from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. to discuss the outcome of the 2018 General Assembly session. No pre-registration is required. Come with your questions and suggestions or just come to listen to the discussion. While the biggest issue of passing a budget will not be resolved by that time, we will give you the insights we have going into the Special Session scheduled for April 11.

There were areas of slow but positive movement coming out of the regular session. The threshold limit for felony larceny was raised from $200 to $500. The lower amount was catching an unreasonably large number of young people in felony crimes for fairly minor offenses. The change was supported by all the faith and human rights communities with most favoring an even higher threshold amount of $1,000 to $1,500. The newer amount will mean fewer young people, particularly minorities, will face prison time for offenses that in most other states are considered lesser crimes.

Progress was made on reducing “the classroom to prison pipeline” whereby children with misbehaviors were sent into the judicial system for actions that are best handled in the schools as acts of juvenile misbehavior and not crimes. The number of suspensions that schools are permitted to make has been limited. Where such programs have been instituted with appropriate level of resources, the instances of misbehaviors go down and fewer children are incarcerated. Appropriate early intervention is a good investment to save money and to save futures of the young people involved.

It took Virginia until 1952 to ratify the amendment granting women the right to vote although by 1922 the amendment had sufficient states to approve it. The Equal Rights Amendment has yet to receive ratification by a sufficient number of states to add it to the Constitution, and once again the Virginia General Assembly refused to ratify it. A bill to exempt feminine products from the sales tax was defeated, but a bill to ensure that women prisoners were provided such products did pass.

Dozens of gun safety bills were defeated with minimal consideration as were bills to allow guns in places of worship. A bill to approve a “Stop Gun Violence” license plate for motor vehicles passed, and these plates will be available from the Division of Motor Vehicles later this year.

Numerous “dog and cat” regulatory bills were introduced as they are each year. A bill to outlaw tethering of dogs was defeated by legislators from the rural areas of the state.

An effort to outlaw the use of handheld devices while driving was unsuccessful because of a concern on the part of some delegates that such a law would simply provide police officers with an additional opportunity to profile drivers and to pull them over. I continue to support limitations on the use of handheld phones while driving.

And there were many more lesser bills. Check out the entire list at lis.virginia.gov or at pilotonline.com.

  • Just sane

    I consider Prius a handheld device; by his own standards KP should not be behind the wheel

  • Judith Andersen

    I hope you will continue to espouse any bill protecting dogs from being left outside in freezing weather. Mama’s Law in D.C. came into being as a result of an entire neighborhood’s anger at a dog being left outside without shelter. Why on earth would anyone want to kill this bill?

    • John Higgins

      Legislating is not a pretty process. Bills die sometimes because they go too far, sometimes because they don’t go far enough, sometimes for no reason beyond political gamesmanship. The Senate version of this bill passed. The original House version passed (Del. Plum voted “nay”.) Something seems to have changed the good delegates’ minds in final form. But a fair question to Del. Plum: why did he vote “nay” first time through when the House approved the earlier version? Was it not tough enough? I’m sure he has a good answer.

      • Judith Andersen

        It just seems such a no-brainer, a cause that anyone with a heart can get behind, not controversial at all. Sad.

  • OneReally

    “The threshold limit for felony larceny was raised from $200 to $500. The
    lower amount was catching an unreasonably large number of young people
    in felony crimes for fairly minor offenses”

    I rest my case your honor. Key word being “minor offenses”.

    KP stealing is stealing. stealing should be a class 6 felony!

  • meh

    Good news, now all the minority children can steal up to $500 instead of $200 without it being a felony. And that means future Democratic voters. Hooray progress!

    • The Constitutionalist

      Even felons are future Democrats as our governor will just give them the ole’ autopen pardon.

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