RICHMOND (WRIC)—Senator Creigh Deeds spoke exclusively to ABC 8 News about a bill he says could save thousands of children.
"There are children being exploited today whose exploitation we could prevent if we just had the resources," he said.
The senator says he's worried the bill could die in the House of Delegates.
Reporter Mark Tenia has requested interviews with Sen. Deeds before the General Assembly session started, to discuss his mental health initiative, but his office respectfully declined each time. Deeds agreed to speak to ABC 8 News on Feb. 27, but only about the bill he says will protect kids, hoping his voice will help get it passed.
Sen. Deeds has introduced a measure to help inject $1 million toward fighting sexual predators and rescuing children across the state.
"Life is precious; children are precious, and we have to do everything we can to protect them," Deeds said. "Over 4 million individual transactions have occurred where people have viewed child pornography in the Commonwealth of Virginia."
Deeds says the problem is just growing. Protect, a nonprofit aimed at protecting children from abuse, sent a video to ABC 8 News that shows the worst offenders known to law enforcement in the past year across the state. Deeds says Virginia's only two task forced to fight crimes against children have been extremely effective.
"We effectively save thousands of kids," he said.
The bill would not use taxpayer money; instead, funding would come from increased court fees for convicted criminals. Deeds' bill unanimously passed in the Senate, but has stalled in the House.
"Right now the bill is not being heard," he said. "It's just kind of stuck in a logjam … I've not gotten a satisfactory answer."
Deeds says he's speaking out now, in hopes it will at least get a vote.
"We can protect more kids if we can just get the legislation advanced through the House of Delegates to the Senate," he said.
Tenia tried to find out why the bill has had trouble in the house so far; it currently sits in the House Appropriations Committee, where it has not been scheduled for a vote. ABC 8 News reached out to the Del. Chris Jones, the chair of appropriations, asking for an explanation, but we haven't gotten a response. Two weeks ago, we also reached out to Del. Scott Lingamfelter, who chairs the committee that killed the house version of the bill. No response has been received.
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