April 6th, 2015

The March 29th deadline has expired for the Governor to veto or amend legislation passed during the 2015 Session. The Governor has made a number of decisions that the General Assembly will reconsider during an April 15th Veto Session. Please make sure to check my newsletter because I plan to use the remaining weeks leading up to Veto session to detail the Governor’s decisions. 

The Governor has amended a number of Bills that passed out of the Virginia General Assembly. I will start with SB 965 because it has drawn a fair amount of attention. SB 965 provides that, unless a criminal or administrative warrant has been issued, law-enforcement and regulatory agencies shall not use surveillance technology to collect or maintain personal information where such data is of unknown relevance and is not intended for prompt evaluation and potential use regarding suspected criminal activity or terrorism by any individual or organization.

Furthermore, the bill details that the state authorizes law-enforcement agencies to collect information from license plate readers, provided that such information is held for no more than seven days, and is not subject to any outside inquiries or internal usage, except in the investigation of a crime or missing persons report. After seven days, such collected information must be purged from the system unless it is being utilized in an ongoing investigation. 

The Governor made two major amendments to the piece of legislation. The first amendment is that he struck the language “any surveillance technology” and inserted the phrase “license plate readers”. This substitution limits the scope of the bill and directly focuses the code of Virginia to focus specifically on License plate readers.   Brian Moran, the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security, noted that the state is still studying the use of body cameras on law enforcement agents.

The second Governor’s amendment pertains to the time period in which the information can be retained. The governor proposes that the timeline is extended to 60 days instead of the seven day limit originally written into the bill.

The Governor has decided to veto HB 1626. Delegate Bell’s piece of legislation is commonly referred to as the Tebow Bill. HB 1626 proposes that students receiving home instruction will be allowed to participate in interscholastic programs. Delegate Bell has introduced this bill a number of times, and it finally passed the hurdle of Senate approval.

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