RICHMOND — As state data staffers wind down work on a General Assembly computer system cyberattack from late 2021, few prefiled bills have shown up from Southwest Virginia’s legislative delegation as of Sunday.
Three bills — one from incoming Republican House Majority Leader Terry Kilgore and two from interim 38th District Republican Sen. Travis Hackworth — tackle issues that were part of regional news in 2021.
Kilgore is chief patron of House Bill 83, which would terminate the town of St. Charles. In recent years, no candidates have stood for town office elections. Kilgore’s bill states that St. Charles never was granted a charter in its 108-year existence, having been created by a 1914 Lee County Circuit Court order.
The town’s property, debt and assets would revert to Lee County if the bill passes the General Assembly.
Hackworth, R-Tazewell, has patroned and prefiled Senate Bill 59, which tackles the subject of a police department’s transfer of records when disbanded.
Pound Town Council in 2021 eliminated its police department, followed by dismissed Chief Tony Baker’s delays in turning over department office and evidence room keys and computer passwords. The county prosecutors and Circuit Court worked to fix the issue, leading to the town hiring an interim police chief to secure records and evidence.
Hackworth’s bill, while not mentioning Pound, would modify existing Code of Virginia section 15.2-1722 to require the chief of a disbanded police department to turn over personnel, investigative and criminal/noncriminal incident records to the locality’s sheriff. Failure to turn over those records would become a misdemeanor.
Hackworth also has patroned Senate Bill 20 to amend state code section 22.1-23.3 regarding treatment of transgender students. The bill would remove the requirement for school boards to adopt transgender protection policies.
Protests arose in several Virginia counties in 2021 — including Wise, Lee and Russell counties — over the code section, which required school divisions to enact either Department of Education model policies or consistent policies protecting transgender students from discrimination, privacy issues and bullying and harassment. The Wise and Lee school boards each adopted policies recommended by the Virginia School Boards Association to comply with the law.
While not filed by a Southwest Virginia legislator, COVID-19 treatment is the focus of Senate Bill 73 by unsuccessful Republican gubernatorial hopeful and Sen. Amanda Chase, R-Chesterfield County. The bill would amend state code section 54.1-3408 to allow licensed health care providers to prescribe, dispense and treat using hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin for patients diagnosed with COVID-19.
Chase’s bill would protect prescribers from state Board of Medicine disciplinary action for prescribing or treating patients under proper documentation with the two medicines.