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Governor signs Del. L. Scott Lingamfelter’s public safety reform bill

Monday, Apr. 21 | By Jonathan Hunley
Del. L. Scott Lingamfelter, a Republican who represents part of Fauquier County
Gov. Terry McAuliffe recently signed into law a public safety reform measure developed by Del. L. Scott Lingamfelter.

The legislation stipulates that all homeland security planning and response in Virginia should come under the purview of the state secretary of public safety.

Previously, such responsibilities were split among the secretariats of public safety and veterans affairs and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

Essentially, disaster planning and preparedness was under the veterans affairs secretariat, but response to such catastrophes came under the public safety secretariat.

That seemed odd to Lingamfelter, a Woodbridge Republican who represents part of Fauquier County. So he called for a two-year study by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission.

From there came the legislation, which puts all homeland security matters under the renamed secretary of public safety and homeland security.

And the former secretary of veterans affairs and homeland security now will be known as the secretary of veterans and defense affairs. That position in the governor's cabinet will look out for Virginia's many military interests.

"This is really a significant reform," said Lingamfelter, who called it one of the most important pieces of legislation he's worked on in a dozen years in Richmond.

Homeland security is a major topic for the lawmaker, a retired Army colonel and chairman of the House Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee.

And the change to the veterans affairs secretariat strengthens the Old Dominion's support of its military bases and related operations and businesses, Lingamfelter said.

"We don't want our defense facilities hurt because [that] hurts our economy," he said.

Lingamfelter said he discussed the potential cabinet changes with McAuliffe in December, before the Democrat was inaugurated the following month.

McAuliffe was receptive to the rearrangement, which brought a bipartisan push for the legislation, the legislator said.

The reform also is an example of a legislative fix that is important but not necessarily headline-grabbing because it lacked controversy, Lingamfelter said.

"A lot of what we do in Richmond is common sense," he said.

Lingamfelter's House version of the legislation was OK'd by McAuliffe on March 3. The identical bill in the state Senate, carried by Republican Sen. Bryce Reeves of Fredericksburg, was signed by the governor April 2.

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