The Breadcrumbs widget will appear here on the published site.
Monty Mason, Not Monty Python
By Jackson McMillan of the VCU Capital News Service
RICHMOND — New delegate Monty Mason, D-Williamsburg, said education was his top priority coming into office, but his committee assignments have broadened his focus, as shown by the legislation he has introduced.
Mason was appointed Wednesday to the committees of House Courts and Justice and Counties, Cities and Towns.
“I’m essentially going to be getting a master’s degree in legal education over the next 60-70 days,” Mason said. “I think that the participation on committees—particularly one as important as Courts—will help shape the direction of my focus.”
According to Mason, while education is important, he wants to use this opportunity to cement his new legislative role.
“I’m going to have to focus a lot of time just towards trying to be a smart, competent member of (the Courts) committee,” Mason said.
Mason also said he stands by his belief in early childhood education partly because of his own personal experience.
“I’m the father of a 5-year-old daughter who started kindergarten this year, and upward of 20 percent of her class came to school with no foundational education,” Mason said. “I think children of all levels in society (should have) access to early childhood education.”
In addition to early childhood education, Mason is addressing issues ranging from scamming seniors online to mental health with his proposed bills this session.
Delaying individual school grading
Mason has introduced House Bill 618. A summary of the bill states that its passage would delay the “dates by which the Board of Education is required to implement the A-to-F individual school performance grading system.”
He says his intent is to amend and improve the way schools collect and quantify performance data.
“Rather than trying to start a big fight and throw (the legislation away),” Mason said, “my goal is to just delay it for a few years. (The Board of Education) just changed the testing standards. So, let’s get three years of data and get the superintendents to sit down with the board and come up with formulaic ideas that will adequately grade our schools.”
Protecting seniors from web fraud
A risk sales specialist at Visa, Inc., Mason explained how his own experience influenced other bills he has introduced in the House.
House Bill 619 would increase the penalty for computer fraud of $200 or more from a Class 5 felony to a Class 4 felony if the victim is 65 or older. The increase would allow judges to impose the offender with a minimum prison term of two years instead of just one year.
“While my background has some bearing, (HB 619) really came as much as anything out of the campaign,” Mason said.
Mason says he spoke with many seniors in his district who he said he believed were victims of online scams.
“Twenty years from now, most seniors will have been on computers all their life,” Mason said. “Now we’re in that gray area where seniors are getting exposed to the Internet but are not quite as savvy as someone who has grown up with it.”
During the 2012-2013 fiscal year, only 10 offenders were convicted of felony computer fraud. Currently, victim age cannot be identified by available data.
The Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission issued a fiscal impact statement in December that stated, “while the impact on community corrections resources cannot be quantified, any impact is likely to be small.”
HB 619 was referred to the House Courts and Justice Committee.
No excuse absentee voting
Another bill Mason introduced is House Bill 622, which would allow in-person absentee voting without providing an excuse.
“I think our goal should always be more people participating in the process,” Mason said. “Not fewer.”
Emergency custody orders
House Bill 621 would allow a magistrate to execute a 48-hour emergency custody order for a person suffering from -- or is suspected of suffering from -- mental illness.
Mason says introducing this legislation is not an attempt to seize on the Creigh Deeds tragedy. (Sen. Deeds, D-Bath, was attacked in November by his son after unsuccessful attempts to have him committed to a mental hospital. His son then committed suicide.)
“What I want to do is help our community service boards who have to deal with these people that need our help,” Mason said.
#MontyMason #Williamsburg #GeneralAssembly #VirginiaLegislature #VirginiaPolitics #GANews #Richmond #RVA
Comments are closed.