The bill introduced two weeks ago by Women Involved In Living and Learning students and De'Nora Hill's mother to increase the penalties for stalking in Virginia has a new life.
After the initial testimony and debate, the bill was placed in the lockbox where many thought it would remain, thus killing the bill.
"Everything got jumbled when politics came into play," said Shanaya Fullerton, one of the WILL students whose class project led to the original bill. "I was still pretty optimistic that it would go through from the delegates' response."
Fullerton's optimism paid off. The bill emerged from the lockbox and was reintroduced into a different committee \0xAD— the Committee of Appropriations' public safety subcommittee — and under different patronage, but the language of the bill remains largely intact.
"Now that it's being considered by another committee, I think that we have a pretty good chance of it passing," said Gaybrielle James, who worked with Fullerton on the project and gave a testimony on behalf of WILL students when the original bill was introduced.
House Bill 1864 carries the same penalties as its predecessor, HB 2253. That is, any second stalking offense committed within five years of a conviction and any breaking of a restraining order will require a minimum 30 days of confinement.
Members of WILL; Becky Bieschke, Hill's mother; and former friends and co-workers of Hill have inundated the delegates on the public safety subcommittee with e-mails and phone calls.
Holly Blake, the director of WILL, was encouraged by this support, and she said she thought it would pay off. "[The delegates] have heard that this matters to a lot of people," she said.
The bill was scheduled to go before the subcommittee late yesterday afternoon.