Justice has always been near to the heart of Del. David Albo (R-42nd). A former chief prosecutor for the City of Fairfax, Albo has made it one of his trademarks in the Virginia House of Delegates to introduce legislation aimed at toughening standards for crime prosecution.
This year, Albo is making another gang-related piece of legislation one of his top priorities in the General Assembly session.
"I personally think the No. 1 problem we have, in my district especially, is gangs," said Albo. "A lot of people don't realize it, but if they think of Fairfax County Parkway, seeing gang activity, it's around. You just don't always see it. It's underworld."
Last year, Albo sponsored House Bill 569, which expanded the definition of "criminal street gang" to include the current definition of "pattern of criminal gang activity." It also created a Class 1 misdemeanor for a person of any age to recruit a person into a gang, created a Class 6 felony for forcing a person to enter a gang through threat of force, and toughened the penalties on repeat gang offenders.
This year, Albo plans to introduce a bill that would add killings through gang activity on the list of crimes that can result in the death penalty in Virginia.
"The problem is when a gang says you have to go kill somebody to get in a gang, it's not death-penalty eligible," Albo said. "It's not murder for hire, because no money has changed hands."
A West Springfield High grad who lives in Springfield, Albo said like many of his constituents, he sees transportation as a top priority in the General Assembly.
"We need to make sure all the money people are currently paying for transportation taxes goes to transportation," he said. Albo is part of a Republican team that is introducing a package that would, among other things, seek a constitutional amendment to mandate that money from the transportation trust fund be spent on transportation. Albo is also in favor of an "Abuser Fee Bill," similar to one found in New Jersey. Under the terms of this bill, chronic "abusers" of traffic laws would be forced to shell out fines.
"If you have a horrible driving record or commit criminal violations of traffic laws, you have to pay into a fund we want to use for transportation," said Albo, who added this could raise $100 million for the transportation budget.
He said the bipartisan interest in transportation should yield results during the six-week General Assembly session.
"I'm really encouraged by the fact that the governor had a transportation proposal, so it's even on his mind. If you have the governor for it, the Republicans in the House for it, the Democrats for it, I think we're really going to be able to do something in transportation."