Senate passes ‘Officer Cassie Johnson Memorial Act’

By Matthew Young, RealWV

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The Senate began the second half of the 2023 session, on Friday, by passing 11 additional bills. With 29 days remaining, the Senate has thus far adopted 125 new pieces of legislation, which are now being considered by the House of Delegates. 

Chief among the bills passed on Friday was SB 490, otherwise known as the “Patrol Officer Cassie Marie Johnson Memorial Act.” 

Patrol Officer Cassie Johnson. Photo courtesy of The Police Tribune.

The bill’s sponsor, freshman Sen. Vince Deeds, R-Greenbrier, spoke in favor of the bill, saying, “Patrol Officer Johnson was in her second year of service to the citizens of Charleston. Cassie proudly wore the dark blue uniform and silver badge of the Charleston Police Department. Johnson represented the best of West Virginia as she humbly carried out her duties.”

On December 1, 2020, Cassie Johnson was fatally wounded while responding to an alleged parking violation in the 200 block of Garrison Ave. in Charleston. Johnson was only 28-years-old at the time of her death.

Sen. Vince Deeds, R-Greenbrier, discusses the Patrol Officer Cassie Marie Johnson Memorial Act in the Senate Chamber on February 10.

“Patrol Officer Cassie Marie Johnson gave a full measure of devotion and dedication to the citizens of West Virginia,” Deeds continued. “[SB 490] will echo throughout all eternity the love and support that all true Mountaineers have for our first responders.”

Should SB 490 become law, anyone who knowingly interferes with a member of law enforcement – or any other first responder – while lawfully performing their duties; and when such interference results in the death of said officer or first responder, shall be convicted of a felony and sentenced to a term of 15-years-to-life in a state penitentiary. 

SB 490 – the Patrol Officer Cassie Marie Johnson Memorial Act – was passed unanimously by the Senate.

Cassie Johnson’s family was on-hand to witness the Senate’s adoption of SB 490, the Patrol Officer Cassie Marie Johnson Memorial Act, on February 10.

In addition to SB 490, the following legislation was adopted on Friday, and will now be reported to the House of Delegates for their consideration:

  • SB 234: Establishing a statewide deadline for electronic voter registration.
  • SB 250: Requiring certain drivers display “student driver” sign on rear of vehicle. 
  • SB 302: Requiring all state law enforcement agencies to record felony warrants in the NCIC (National Crime Information Center) database. 
  • SB 484: Establishing and defining human smuggling as a felony criminal offense.
  • SB 493: Exempting WV military veterans from admission fees at state parks.
  • SB 515: Clarifying annual report deadline for West Virginia businesses.
  • SB 529: Allowing businesses to register as limited liability limited partnerships.
  • SB 532: Creating secondary criminal offense of solicitation of a minor.
  • SB 533: Relating to limitations on motor vehicles used by nonprofit recycling associations.

The Senate also adopted HB 2602, which seeks to reestablish “certain specialized school service personnel classifications.” The bill will now be referred to Gov. Jim Justice for his consideration. RealWV will provide continual updates throughout the duration of the 2023 legislative session. 

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