I just found out a few minutes ago that SB 965 was vetoed, after being unanimously approved during the 2015 session.

I like the Governor and support his policies on economic development, which have brought thousands of new jobs to Virginia.  I also consider him a friend, and sometimes friends disagree, especially when they are both Democrats.

Having said that, he’s getting some very bad advice here.  And the talking points don’t match reality.

This bill was not “rushed through.”  The issue has been pending since March 2013, when the former Attorney General ruled that police could not use License Plate Readers, except in criminal investigations.  Certain police departments refused to follow that opinion.

Delegate Anderson and myself filed our legislation in January 2014, after a series of Washington Post articles on the unauthorized use of LPR’s.  We continued our bills for a year to get the maximum possible input from all sides of the debate

We pre-filed our respective bills (again) before the 2015 session.  There were at least four Committee hearings on our bills, as well as multiple floor debates.  The final product of SB 965 was reached by a bipartisan consensus and unanimously approved by the House and Senate in late February — after a deliberative process of over a year.

The bill is not “bad legislation.”  It was carefully written to only impact “surveillance technologies” which scan and upload personal information.  On its face, it applies to random data collection – not data collected pursuant to a specific investigation or from a specific encounter.  Contrary to the exaggerated claims of opponents, it had no effect on cameras focused on government property or personnel.

Here’s the bottom line — there is no need for the Commonwealth to be collecting private information on its own citizens, without a warrant or investigation. It is time for that Patriot Act mentality to end.

Law enforcement in this state does a great job.  I’m proud to support them.  But they only have those powers delegated by the Constitution and state law. It is not unlimited.

Today’s veto sends just the opposite message.

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  • DavidH

    Agree completely, Sen. Petersen. Thanks to you, Del. Anderson, and others for your work on these issues, and please keep pushing!

    BTW, you appear to have a hack issue in the title of this blog.