- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 9, 2008

RICHMOND (AP) The public could be blocked from accessing records of Virginians with permits to carry concealed handguns under legislation that passed yesterday in the House.

The bill from Delegate Dave Nutter, Montgomery Republican, passed 97-1. It originally would have exempted a state police database of permit holders from the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, but allow public access to the records held at local courts.

But the bill was changed Thursday to allow Circuit Court clerks to release only the names of permit holders while keeping all other identifying personal information secret. The Senate has rejected a similar amendment.

The House has passed legislation to eliminate Virginia’s so-called triggerman rule, but it likely faces a veto by Gov. Tim Kaine, a Democrat.

In Virginia, only the person directly responsible for a killing can get the death penalty. The House voted 77-21 yesterday to allow capital punishment for an accomplice who shares the triggerman’s intent to kill.

The Senate passed similar legislation 24-14 earlier this week, but it was not a wide enough margin to override a gubernatorial veto.

The General Assembly passed the same measure last year. Mr. Kaine vetoed it, and the Senate was two votes shy of the 27 needed to override.

A Kaine spokesman has said the governor will veto the bill again if it reaches his desk.

The House unanimously passed legislation yesterday to make it more difficult for those who have sexually abused children to get jobs in Virginia’s schools.

The bill by Delegate Rob B. Bell III, Albemarle Republican, would require school superintendents to check child-abuse registries in Virginia and other states where applicants have lived in the past five years. Those with founded complaints would not be hired.

The bill also would make it a crime to lie on a school application about past child-abuse complaints. Child Protective Services would be required to notify a school division about employees who have sexually abused children. Teachers who take advantage of their students and have exhausted all appeals would be fired and their licenses could be revoked.

Virginia was one of at least 15 states considering stronger oversight and tougher punishment for educators who abuse their students.

The House has passed legislation authorizing the use of deadly force against anyone who breaks into a home and physically threatens the occupant, but the measure has repeatedly been killed in the Senate.

The bill from Delegate W.R. “Bill” Janis, Henrico Republican, provides civil immunity to residents who kill intruders. The House passed it 80-19 yesterday.

For the last two years the House has passed similar bills, but the Senate Courts of Justice Committee has voted against them.

Those convicted of felony drug possession would be allowed to receive more welfare benefits under legislation the Senate narrowly has passed.

The Senate voted 23-17 yesterday to pass the bill from Sen. Linda T. “Toddy” Puller, Fairfax County Democrat. It would restore Temporary Assistance for Needy Families — or TANF — benefits to about 140 Virginians who have been convicted of felony drug possession. TANF funds go to low-income families with children.

The federal government in 1996 enacted a lifetime ban on TANF and food stamp benefits for those convicted of a drug felony. Virginia restored food-stamp benefits to drug felons in 2005.


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