Governor Northam Vetoes Legislation Limiting Access to Emergency Shelters

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Governor Ralph Northam today vetoed House Bill 2303 and Senate Bill 1047, which would have resulted in significant and unacceptable public safety consequences by allowing emergency shelters to temporarily deny individuals required to register on the Sex Offenders and Crimes Against Minors Registry. The Governor’s full veto statements are below.

 

House Bill 2303

 

April 30, 2019

Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto House Bill 2303. This bill requires individuals who are required to register on the Sex Offenders and Crimes Against Minors Registry to report their status to security staff at an emergency shelter or they will be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor. Additionally, this bill allows the shelter to temporarily deny such individuals entry into an emergency shelter.

Emergency shelters are only opened when circumstances in our communities are dire and Virginians are no longer able to remain safely in their own homes. Most often, shelters are put in place during severe weather events, including during hurricanes. During these dangerous storms, we can face extremely high winds, storm surges, and flash flooding. All of these events can result in serious injury or death. Allowing shelters to turn people away, even on a temporary basis, is unconscionable and could lead to serious injuries or fatalities. 

I proposed amendments during the reconvened session that would appropriately balance public safety concerns by ensuring that individuals required to register report their status to security staff, and also required agencies responsible for sheltering to develop plans to accommodate safely all members of our communities if an emergency arises. While those amendments were rejected, I will be directing the Department of Social Services to update their plans accordingly and encourage localities to do the same. The underlying bill would have had significant and unacceptable public safety consequences.

Accordingly, I veto this bill.

Sincerely,

 

 

 

Ralph S. Northam

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