RICHMOND, Va. (WVIR) - A bill that would expand Virginia's DNA database unanimously passed in the state Senate Monday.

Senator Mark Obenshain's proposal, Senate Bill 1187, would allow police to collect samples from criminals convicted of serious misdemeanors. Right now, the state primarily stores samples from felons.

Gil Harrington, Albemarle County law enforcement, and other public safety advocates say the change could prevent crimes by finding links between cases earlier. Albemarle County Sheriff Chip Harding, who lobbied for the bill, issued the following statement:

"With unanimous support today the Senate of Virginia approved SB 1187, Senator Mark Obenshain's bill to expand the DNA Databank to include certain serious Class I Misdemeanors.  I am very pleased to see the strong Senate support and anxiously await the vote of the Delegates in the House. 

It is my understanding Senator Obenshain's bill and the bill that is being promoted by Delegates Bell and Toscano (HB1928) have been amended during the process to be almost identical. I am hopeful for passage.

Although this bill does not take Commonwealth's Databank to where I hope to see it one day, passage would be a significant and historical step in the right direction."

The companion legislation, House Bill 1328, which was introduced by delegates Rob Bell and David Toscano, is moving through the House.

The ACLU opposes the measures.