Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) and Republican members of the Virginia House of Delegates announced Monday the first pre-filed bills of the 2015 legislative session. Delegate Peter Farrell (R-Henrico) filed House Bill 1274, legislation that codifies a recent landmark Supreme Court decision to prohibit warrantless searches of digital devices. Majority Leader Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) filed House Bills 1275 and 1276, legislation that prioritizes state funding for veterans care centers in Hampton Roads and northern virginia. Today was the first day to pre-file legislation for 2015.
“Over the last few years, Republicans in the House have proposed, authored, and passed legislation to spur job creation, promote teachers and improve K-12 education, strengthen transportation, reform state government, and provide law enforcement with the tools and resources they need to keep our neighborhoods and communities safe,” said Speaker Howell. “These bills are part of continued efforts by the House of Delegates to put forward positive solutions that address Virginia’s challenges, and the first of many that we expect to propose ahead of the 2015 session.”
House Bill 1274 prohibits law enforcement from searching digital devices without obtaining a search warrant, effectively codifying the unanimous, landmark Supreme Court decision issued in Riley v. California. In that case, the Supreme Court concluded that warrantless searches of cell phones and other digital devices violated an individual’s Fourth amendment rights.
“We live in a world full of rapidly-evolving technology and questions surrounding digital privacy and security are rising to the forefront of our public debate,” said Delegate Farrell. “The Supreme Court has answered one of these questions, making clear that law enforcement should obtain a warrant prior to searching cell phones and other digital devices. This bill codifies this landmark Supreme Court ruling and is an important step toward protecting the digital rights of Virginians.”
House Bills 1275 and 1276 prioritize state funding for two new veterans care centers, one in Hampton Roads and one northern virginia by utilizing part of the $300 million of the Virginia Public Building Authority bonds authorized by the General Assembly in the FY2014 budget. House Bill 1275 dedicates $28.5 million in state funding for the Hampton Roads Care Center. House Bill 1276 dedicates $28.5 million in state funding for the northern virginia Care Center.
“There are significant health and life-safety issues with the current General Assembly building that need to be addressed. That is why both Republicans and Democrats in the General Assembly authorized funding to improve the capitol complex infrastructure as part of the FY-2014 budget,” said Majority Leader Cox. “However, because it is clear that Governor McAuliffe has no intention to move forward on this critical project, we have decided to prioritize the construction of two new veterans care centers using part of this funding. These care centers have been long-term priorities for the Joint Leadership Council of Veterans Service Organizations and the House of Delegates.”
“There has been a documented need in the Commonwealth for additional veterans care centers for several years,” Cox added. “Virginia’s veterans have fought for our nation and deserve access to quality, long-term care. The JLC has made these additional care centers one of their top priorities for 2015 and we are doing the same,” said Cox. “We look forward to working with Governor Terry McAuliffe, Virginia’s senators and the Congressional delegation to move these new care centers up the federal priority list.”
Virginia currently has Veterans Care Centers in Salem and Richmond. Veterans Care Centers are state-of-the-art facilities that provide high quality, long-term care to veterans. Virginia is home to over 800,000 veterans, the seventh-highest total of any state, but ranks 44th in the ratio of veterans to available care centers. Virginia first authorized funding for the Hampton Roads care center in 2006, and the northern virginia care center in 2008. However, both projects have been stalled at the federal level. Care centers are built with 65 percent federal funding and 35 percent state funding.