New laws to fight child sex crimes and cigarette trafficking top the wish list of Virginia’s State Crime Commission this holiday season.
The commission met in Richmond Monday morning to finalize what it will bring before the General Assembly next month. The commission is tasked with solving some of the commonwealth's most pressing public safety problems.
“It's a way for us to work on really knotty, complicated issues over the course of the year without the pressure of next bill, next bill, next bill which happens during session,” said 58th District Delegate Rob Bell (R).
With the 2014 General Assembly session about a month away, the commission is lining up its priorities. Bell will carry several bills specifically aimed at fighting and prosecuting child sex crimes.
“You want to make sure nothing falls between the cracks, you want to make sure everything gets properly investigated by the proper party,” said Bell.
One of Bell's bills would ensure law enforcement, social services, and child advocates work together while investigating abuse. Another would allow previous, similar convictions to be used as evidence while prosecuting child sex abuse cases.
“Just because we think it’s valid evidence in terms of whether or not the person did it or not,” said Bell.
The commission is also taking aim at cigarette trafficking between Virginia and higher-tax states to the north.
“If you were to buy a package of cigarettes in New York City or New Jersey, it's about 10 times the cost it is here in Virginia,” said 17th District Senator Bryce Reeves (R).
Reeves will cosponsor legislation to streamline enforcement and better fight trafficking operations.
“We know that a lot of that is tied to terrorist cells, Al-Qaeda, some of the other organizations, so it's a huge concern for us,” said Reeves.
The State Crime Commission meets year around to study and debate these issues before sending them to the General Assembly. Bell is confident most of the bills backed by the commission will be passed.
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