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Prefiled Picks: Legislation to Watch

Rosalind Helderman

Today we introduce a new occasional blog feature, highlighting intriguing legislative proposals already submitted for consideration by Virginia lawmakers, prefiled well before the Jan. 13 start of the General Assembly session.

First up:
Filed by Del. Robert G. Marshall (R-Prince William) on Tuesday, this bill would make it illegal to hold any prisoner convicted of federal terrorism charges in state or local jails in Virginia.

This measure might be largely symbolic way of putting Virginia on record in the raging national debate over whether to bring terrorist suspects to the United States for trial. This bill is likely to be one of a series of bills designed by Republicans to use their control of state government to protest a Democratic agenda at the federal level they believe is unpopular with Virginians.

The federal government is contemplating buying a facility in Illinois to house terrorism suspects. Talk of trying suspects in federal courts in Virginia has so far not materialized and there have been no proposals that would involve bringing prisoners already convicted on federal charges to local or state Virginia facilities. But Marshall may well find strong support for the measure in the legislature.

Next, we have HB 9: State Police Volunteer Chaplaincy Program.

Del. Charles W. Carrico Sr. (R-Grayson) is back with a bill to allow members of the state police who have ministerial training to volunteer as chaplains and deliver prayers and benedictions at police events. While the volunteers would be asked to "respect and be sensitive to the religious beliefs of the employees and their families," the superintendent of state police would be barred from limiting the volunteer chaplain's religious expression.

This is Carrico's latest attempt to allow state police chaplains to prayer in Jesus' name at official functions. Six chaplains resigned last year after the state police superintendent issued an order requiring that prayers be nondenominational.

Carrico proposed a similar measure during the 2009 session which passed the House of Delegates but died in a senate committee on a 8 to 7 vote, as Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine threatened a veto. Might the measure find new life with a Republican in the governor's mansion? The composition of the committee hasn't changed, so it might be unlikely, but it will be interesting to see where Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell falls on the issue.

By Rosalind Helderman  |  December 9, 2009; 5:15 PM ET
Categories:  Barack Obama , General Assembly 2010 , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman , Timothy M. Kaine  
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