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Virginia Action Alert!

SB 689

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spinning red dotFebruary 8, 2010: This week, the Virginia Senate will again consider SB 689, which would severely limit the ability of people with disabilities to access the court system through the Virginia Protection & Advocacy system. Please contact your Virginia Senators TODAY! and ask them to vote NO on the bill.

Many people with developmental disabilities cannot afford their own lawyers and the P&A is one of the few avenues for them to seek justice in court. Ordinarily, clients decide whether to litigate in consultation with their attorneys. But, SB689 will take away that right and give that decision to VOPA’s Board. If the Board says no, a case will not be filed. This could make the decision about whether to litigate purely political, since the VOPA Board is politically appointed. The needs of the individual would take the back seat.

  • If the Board did not approve the request, the Virginian with the disability could not sue through VOPA–no matter how bad the harm or danger they were in. Most Virginians with developmental disabilities don’t have the money to hire their own lawyers; they are dependent on the P&A. Why should they have fewer rights?
  • SB 689 will also raise significant ethical issues. Ordinarily, clients consult with their own lawyer about whether to sue. But, SB689 will require people with disabilities represented by VOPA attorneys to get approval from the VOPA Board. What their own attorney has to say may not matter at all.
  • SB 689 also used to require the client with the disability to hire a mediator before going to court, but this provision was removed, after calls and emails from concerned Virginians.

Recently, VOPA filed Arc of Virginia v. Kaine, an action to enjoin the state from building a new segregated state institution for 75 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, all of whom could live in the community. We need to protect the rights of people with disabilities to file these kinds of actions, rather than allowing them to become political footballs.

Please contact your Virginia Senator immediately - call today, Monday, February 8. Calls are the most effective way to contact your legislators.

How to contact Virginia Senators:

Below are the Senators on the Committee on General Laws, which will consider SB 689. The cities provided are the sites of their local offices. If you know one of them is your Senator, please call or email. If you need to look up your Virginia Senator, go to http://conview.state.va.us/whosmy.nsf/main?openform

The patron of SB 689 is Senator Blevins district14@senate.virginia.gov (Chesapeake, (804) 698-7514)

Senator John Miller is also a supporter of the bill district01@senate.virginia.gov (Newport News, (804) 698-7501)

Members of the committee on General Laws are:

Senator Mamie Locke (chair) district02@senate.virginia.gov (Hampton, (804) 698-7502)

Senator Chap Peterson district34@senate.virginia.gov (Fairfax, (804) 698-7534)

Senator George Barker district39@senate.virginia.gov (Alexandria, (804) 698-7539)

Senator David Marsden district37@senate.virginia.gov (Burke, (804) 698-1041)

Senator Charles Colgan district29@senate.virginia.gov (Manassas, phone 804-698-7529)

Senator Edward Houck district17@senate.virginia.gov (Spotsylvania, (804) 698-7517)

Senator William Wampler district40@senate.virginia.gov (Bristol (804) 698-7540)

Senator Walter Stosch district12@senate.virginia.gov (Glen Allen, (804) 698-7512)

Senator Stephen Martin district11@senate.virginia.gov (Chesterfield, (804) 698-7511)

Senator Frank Ruff district15@senate.virginia.gov (Clarksville, (804) 698-7515)

Senator Frank Wagner district07@senate.virginia.gov (Virginia Beach, (804) 698-7507)

Senator Mark Herring district07@senate.virginia.gov (Leesburg, (804) 698-7533)

Senator Robert Hurt district19@senate.virginia.gov (Chatham, (804) 698-7519)

Senator Jill Vogel district27@senate.virginia.gov (Winchester, (804) 698-7527)

Senator John Miller district01@senate.virginia.gov (Newport News, (804) 698-7501)

 

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Created: 02/08/10

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