Bill Proposed by Centreville High School Students will be Virginia Law
A bill proposed by a team of four Centreville High School seniors will become Virginia law in July. The bill will make it mandatory for 911 call centers to accept text messages. Centreville High School is a Fairfax County public school.
The Centreville High School students who proposed the bill with teacher Cathy Ruffing and Virginia Senator George Barker.
Team members Thu Le, Rodolfo Faccini, Arko Mazumder, and Daniel Strauch, students of Cathy Ruffing and Terri Ritchey, proposed the bill as part of a project in their Advanced Placement (AP) Government class. Virginia Senator George Barker (39th District) introduced SB418 to the Virginia General Assembly. The bill was signed by Governor Ralph Northam and will become law July 1.
Each year, senior government students at Centreville High experience the lawmaking process as participants, writing bills related to problems or issues in Virginia. Among the ideas for bills this year were to outlaw the sale and use of neonicotinoids to reduce honeybee devastation; prohibit citizens with records of child abuse or endangerment to work as a substitute teacher; exempt menstrual products from sales tax; prohibit smoking in state and local parks; forbid large trucks to use the fast lane on highways; decrease the speed limit in school zones to 15 mph; and change domestic violence from a Class 1 misdemeanor to a Class 6 felony.
Le, Faccini, Mazumder, and Strauch defended SB418 before the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee in January. According to teacher Cathy Ruffing, “One of the most compelling arguments for the bill was the lack of text 911 service during the Virginia Tech shootings. Students were afraid to speak (because of the active shooter) but Montgomery County did not accept texts to 911. Students were texting friends and parents who called 911 but were reaching the 911 service where they reside, then being connected to Montgomery County. Obviously, this cost precious moments in such a crisis.”