Legislators Share Next Year's Goals

By: Whitney Holmes Email
By: Whitney Holmes Email

December 21, 2006

On the heels of a legislative forum moderated by UVa President, John Casteen, Delegates David Toscano and Rob Bell listed what bills they hope to pass this legislative session.

The main bills Del. Rob Bell (R-58th) hopes to pass deal with cracking down on sex offenders, honoring victim restitution rights, and limiting eminent domain.

The priorities for Del. David Toscano (D-57th) are raising the minimum wage, funding transportation, and cutting taxes for Virginia's lower income residents.

In less than three weeks, the state lawmakers will flock to Richmond with hopes of achieving these lofty legislative goals.

The bill at the top of Bell's list aims to get sex offenders off school property.

"Schools are not prisons," explained Bell. "Kids are always running around the hallways, going to bathrooms, going to the Principal's office, the art teacher.... we need to make sure those are safe places for kids."

Bell's bill stems from an incident about a year ago in Madison county where a convicted sex offender was invited by the PTO to appear as Santa.

Bell's passion for cracking down on sex offenders comes from his days as a prosecutor in a small town.

"We had a steady run of sex offenses done by family members, or even strangers, where the victims were often children," Bell remembered.

Toscano's priority for this legislative session is putting more money in the pocket of minimum wage workers.

"People in this country, and in this Commonwealth, can't survive working forty hours a week earning the minimum wage, where it currently stands now, at $5.15 an hour," protested Toscano.

He wants to raise the minimum wage, one dollar a year, for the next three years.

The delegates will find out which bills will become laws when the session convenes on January 10.

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