HOW TO USE THE VCOPS
LEGISLATIVE INFORMATION SYSTEM
The purpose of this section of our website is to allow Law Enforcement Officers and their supporters to contact the Virginia General Assembly to ensure that legislation that supports law enforcement officer's rights, safety, pension and benefit issues as well as issues that will improve policing in Virginia are heard.
With the advent of the electronic legislature it has become easier for Virginia's LEO's to become a part of the system that in many cases determines issues that impact their careers. Email is a simple method to contact your representatives and let them know how you feel about an issue. Email is read by the representative's administrative aide and is counted in how the legislator decides how a vote will be cast.
The VCOPS Legislative Information System gives you access to the legislators that ultimately decide the fate of a bill. How does the System work? How is a bill passed or rejected. Read on:
A bill is introduced by a patron Delegate or Senator. It is written to comply with legal standards set by the State of Virginia in Legislative Services at the General Assembly. It is then assigned to a committee that will hear arguments as to its merits. Generally a bill is heard first in Subcommittee. It is in the Subcommittee that the bill's fate really gets the test of worthiness. If a bill leaves subcommittee with an uncontested majority vote it will go to the full committee and generally it is sent to the full house for a series of votes (readings). If the bill leaves the committee contested it will more than likely get more scrutiny in the full committee and many times it is defeated at this point. If the bill gets through the House or Senate it then meets its second and most serious test.
The bill that passes by a majority in the House or Senate then "crosses over" to the other house. A House bill will go to the Senate and begin the above process again. This is where true opponents of a bill surface. This is where you find out who are your friends and who are not. Many of our bills go through the first chamber without a problem only to go to subcommittee in the opposite side to a room full of people objecting to them. This is where email is really important. Contacting the subcommittee members after crossover is very important. The number of voices speaking up for a bill does make a difference. Not everyone can come to committee hearings, therefore it is important that as many people as possible "track" the bills that we are watching and send emails to the committee members responsible with the bill's fate. It is not really necessary to write to every member of the House or Senate but it is important to write to those sitting in the committee that is hearing the bill. Sometimes changes to the legislation are made in the opposite chamber. When this is done the legislation must be sent back to the first chamber and be re-voted upon. If it passes it becomes law. Most laws become effective the following July.
If there is one thing you should understand out of all this is the importance of the subcommittees and the committees. Representatives from various local VCOPS unions and associations appear before all subcommittees and committees that hear our bills. Your emails help us get our message across. If you send an email it should be short and sweet. A legislator or his aide will not spend much time reading a lengthy email. 1 or 2 sentences are all that is needed. Here is a typical email that should be sent:
"Hi, my name is Joe Police Officer and I am a police officer in __________,VA Please support HB# or SB#. Police should not fear of retaliation for using their grievance procedure (replace with topic of bill). Thank You for your help"
Use the copy and paste feature of your browser and copy this message and send it to as many Delegates or Senators in the committees hearing the bills as possible. If you cannot find an email address consider using the 800# to call and leave your verbal message, or use the template on the Email address page to send an email to the Delegate/Senator whose email does not appear in the Directory.
TO: All Virginia Citizens, Virginia First Responders - PLEASE contact your Senator or Delegate and ask them to Support SB1119 The Fire Fighters Cancer Bill. Thank YOU !!
Below you will find several bills that could affect you as a Law Enforcement Officer. Please contact your Legislator and let them know you support these bills. you can do it by email directly to the legislator or by calling the Legislative Hotline phone number. Either ways are effective and will help get these bills passed.
HB1393 and 1907- allows retired officers to carry guns if they come back as school security officers.
HB1726-felony to disarm a LEO
HB1393 and SB790- Hate Crime to attack a LEO
SB881 and 1181 - allows a return to VRS while continuing to receive payments.
HB243 - Law Enforcement Officers, release of identifying information. Bill would make it against the law to release any identifying information on a officer who is involved in a shooting before the investigation is completed.
VCOPS Legislative System
During the legislative session you may call the Constituent Viewpoint operators at (800) 889-0229 to express your opinion on a legislative issue. This number is toll free and is an easy way to let a Delegate or Senator know your position on an issue. The Constituent Viewpoint office provides a toll-free, intrastate telephone message center during session only to take calls from citizens of the Commonwealth wishing to express an opinion on legislation. Callers will be asked to provide their name, address, and the issue on which they are expressing their opinion. The message will be transmitted to the constituent's appropriate legislators.