Legislation targeting repeat sexual predators has stalled in the House of Delegates. House Bills 301 and 353, commonly known as the Repeat Sexual Predator Prevention Act, are bills that would, during prosecution for sexual offenses, allow a court to admit evidence of a defendant’s prior history of sexual crimes or abuse. The House Bills and their Senate companions have bipartisan support with more than 120 sponsors, and House Bill 353 is a cornerstone of Governor Hogan’s public safety initiatives.
This legislation has been before the General Assembly 14 times. It passed the Senate in 2016, but has never come to the full House for a vote. This bill protects our children and our communities from the most abhorrent offenders in our society. Our members firmly believe the time for delay is over. With an important legislative deadline coming on March 19th, and after fourteen years of failure, this is a time for action.
On Tuesday our Caucus sent a letter to the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, notifying him of our intentions to petition the bill to the floor of the house if it is not brought up for a vote by Friday. Petitioning a bill from Committee is an extraordinary step, but this legislation is too important to leave languishing. The follow day, the media reported the Chairman intended to move the bill.
On Thursday afternoon, the House Judiciary Committee UNANIMOUSLYapproved the legislation and it will soon come to the floor for final vote. The journey isn't over yet, but the passage of this bill is closer than it has ever been!