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Cat Thieves, Abortions and the Courts Committee

Tim Craig

When it comes to watching how Virginia's laws are really made, there is no better venue than the House Courts of Justice Committee, which takes up hundreds of bills each year dealing with the criminal code. Legislation that can mean the difference between a fine and a lengthy jail term are churned through the committee in a matter of minutes, with little or no debate.

Earlier today, the committee gave tentative approval, without debate, to a bill by Del. Jennifer L. McClellan (D-Richmond) to make it a class six felony to steal a cat. A few minutes later, the committee gave tentative approval to a bill by Del. Robert G. Marshall (R-Prince William) to charge someone with a class 1 misdemeanor if they coerce a woman to have an abortion against her will.

Sounds simple enough.

But after both bills were approved pending a final vote in a few weeks, Del. Terry G. Kilgore (R-Scott) posed a question to House Majority Leader H. Morgan Griffith (R-Salem).

"We just made stealing a cat a felony, and we are making someone who forces an abortion guilty of a misdemeanor?" asked Kilgore, wondering if the subcommittee ever compared the bills side by side.

Griffith said that potential contradiction in the code did not come up before, and then committee just moved on to their next bill.

By Tim Craig  |  January 21, 2008; 5:01 PM ET
Categories:  General Assembly 2008 , Tim Craig  
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