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Seems Like A Valid Question To Me

By Greg L | 17 September 2009 | 51st HOD District | 4 Comments

I looks like the 51st District race is heating up early with charges from the Nichols campaign that Rich Anderson is push-polling a question about Nichol’s vote on HB 1481 last session.  According to the Manassas News & Messenger, The Nichols camp is saying that the 68 question poll that Anderson is running wrongly leaves the impression that Nichols voted to allow sexual predators access to primary schools.  The Anderson campaign counters that’s not what the poll was asking, but that the bill is pretty easy for voters to understand and that Nichols voted for it while more than two-thirds of the General  Assembly voted against it.  Already this is looking to be an interesting campaign.

Here’s the text of the bill in question.  The italicized portion indicates language that would be added to the Virginia Code, and the rest is the existing language:

Offered January 16, 2008
A BILL to amend and reenact § 22.1-296.1 of the Code of Virginia, relating to contractors on school property.
Patron– Ware, O.
Referred to Committee on Education
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:1.  That § 22.1-296.1 of the Code of Virginia is amended and reenacted as follows:§ 22.1-296.1. Data on convictions for certain crimes and child abuse and neglect required; penalty.A. As a condition of employment for all of its public school employees, whether full-time or part-time, permanent, or temporary, every school board shall require on its application for employment certification (i) that the applicant has not been convicted of a felony or any offense involving the sexual molestation, physical or sexual abuse or rape of a child; and (ii) whether the applicant has been convicted of a crime of moral turpitude. Any person making a materially false statement regarding any such offense shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor and upon conviction, the fact of said conviction shall be grounds for the Board of Education to revoke such person’s license to teach.B. Every school board shall also require on its application for employment, as a condition of employment requiring direct contact with students, whether full-time or part-time, permanent, or temporary, certification that the applicant has not been the subject of a founded case of child abuse and neglect.C. As a condition of awarding a contract for the provision of services that require the contractor or his employees to have direct contact with students on school property during regular school hours or during school-sponsored activities, the school board shall require the contractor to provide certification that all persons who will provide such services have not been convicted of a felony or any offense involving the sexual molestation or physical or sexual abuse or rape of a child.

Any person making a materially false statement regarding any such offense shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor and, upon conviction, the fact of such conviction shall be grounds for the revocation of the contract to provide such services and, when relevant, the revocation of any license required to provide such services. School boards shall not be liable for materially false statements regarding the certifications required by this subsection.

This subsection shall not apply to a contractor or his employees providing services to a school division in an emergency or exceptional situation, such as when student health or safety is endangered or when repairs are needed on an urgent basis to ensure that school facilities are safe and habitable, when it is reasonably anticipated that the contractor or his employees will have no direct contact with students.

D. Any contractor or his employee who is disqualified from providing services as a result of a felony conviction under subsection C may request from the local school board a waiver from disqualification, provided that the felony conviction occurred at least five years prior to the date of the waiver request and that such felony did not involve: (i) the sexual molestation or physical or sexual abuse or rape of a child; (ii) any crime against the person pursuant to Chapter 4 (§ 18.2-30 et seq.) of Title 18.2; or (iii) health and safety pursuant to Article 1 (§ 18.2-247 et seq.) or Article 1.1 (§ 18.2-265.1 et seq.) of Chapter 7 of Title 18.2.

The effect of this bill pretty clearly is to allow someone who has been prohibited access to school property on the basis of their conviction for a felony the opportunity to apply to a school board to get a waiver and be able to get on the property.  The sections referred to in the legislation refer to capital murder and drug offenses, but the exclusions to not prohibit someone convicted of a sex crime from getting this kind of waiver, as long as they weren’t committed against a child and weren’t violent.  Under this bill, if you raped a senior citizen or an eighteen year old, you could get a waiver from the school board and be allowed access to school property.  If you plead down from sexual molestation to something less shocking but still classified as a felony in order to get a reduced sentence, you could get on school property.  And if you were convicted of producing child pornography, you could get this waiver.

Oh, my. 

Little wonder the voting on this bill came out this way:

YEAS–Alexander, BaCote, Barlow, Bouchard, Bowling, Brink, Caputo, Dance, Ebbin, Eisenberg, Englin, Fralin, Hall, Howell, A.T., Joannou, Jones, D.C., Mathieson, McClellan, Melvin, Morrissey, Nichols, Phillips, Plum, Poisson, Scott, J.M., Shuler, Sickles, Toscano, Tyler, Ware, O.–30.

NAYS–Abbitt, Albo, Amundson, Armstrong, Athey, Bell, Bulova, Byron, Carrico, Cline, Cole, Cosgrove, Cox, Crockett-Stark, Frederick, Gear, Gilbert, Hamilton, Hargrove, Hogan, Hugo, Hull, Iaquinto, Ingram, Janis, Johnson, Jones, S.C., Kilgore, Landes, Lohr, Loupassi, Marsden, Marshall, D.W., Marshall, R.G., Massie, May, Merricks, Miller, J.H., Miller, P.J., Moran, Morgan, Nixon, Nutter, O’Bannon, Oder, Orrock, Peace, Pogge, Poindexter, Putney, Rust, Saxman, Scott, E.T., Shannon, Sherwood, Spruill, Suit, Tata, Valentine, Vanderhye, Ward, Ware, R.L., Watts, Wright, Mr. Speaker–65.


NOT VOTING–Griffith, Lewis, Lingamfelter, Purkey–4.

Delegate Alexander recorded as yea. Intended to vote nay.
Delegate Bouchard recorded as yea. Intended to vote nay.
Delegate Joannou recorded as yea. Intended to vote nay.
Delegate Lingamfelter recorded as not voting. Intended to vote nay.
Delegate Phillips recorded as yea. Intended to vote nay.

That break-up of votes is pretty significant.  You’ve got folks like Bob Brink, the guy kicked out of his house by his wife for engaging in a homosexual affair voting for this.  You’ve got Chuck Caputo, the guy that thinks all felons are Democrats voting for this bill.  All the hard-core left-wingers are there.  And you got Paul Nichols, someone not normally associated with the hard-left supporting this.  On the nay vote side, you’ve got a broadly bipartisan group including Dave Marsden, Paula Miller, current Democratic AG nominee Steve Shannon and Brian Moran, who ran for Governor.

They didn’t think having a school board grant a waiver to a contractor who had been convicted of child pornography was a good idea.  Why did Paul Nichols?

That seems like a pretty valid question to ask in a poll as far as I’m concerned, and I look forward to hearing an answer during the campaigns.  I’d like to know the answer to that.

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  1. Lake Ridge Resident said on 18 Sep 2009 at 9:18 am:
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    Hmmmmm, I didn’t even know about HB 1481, but this whole deal tends to make one wonder but what there just may be some particular sensitivity here concerning the issue of sexual predators. Did I miss something?

  2. NotTimothyGeithner said on 18 Sep 2009 at 10:07 am:
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    What exactly is the reasoning behind this? I’m all for forgiveness but not allowing sexual predators into schools seems like a no-brainer. I suppose the employer could have multiple projects and shouldn’t be denied if he had a sexual predator at another project, but I have no idea why the waiver should ever allow a sexual predator into a school. This is a valid question that raises question about judgement or attention to one’s job.

    Not only did the Dems’ then-future AG nominee vote against it, Moran, who I believe was endorsed by Nichols, voted against it. They made it easy on the party backbenchers.

  3. Greg L said on 18 Sep 2009 at 10:12 am:
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    Also of note it’s unclear whether someone convicted ot “taking indecent liberties” would be eligible for a waiver, since that’s not necessarily considered a violent crime. I recall a few illegal aliens accused of child rape who plead down to “indecent liberties” charges, so this can’t be all that uncommon.

    It would have been very unfortunate if this had passed and allowed school boards to allow persons access to schools who had been convicted on taking indecent liberties with a child after pleading down from child molestation or rape.

  4. Max Power said on 20 Sep 2009 at 10:59 am:
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    Just noticed this thread. Nichols has been an advocate on the illegal immigration debate, Im going to give him the benefit of the doubt on this one. He still has my vote.

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