Yesterday, the House of Delegates voted to reject Senate amendments to House Bill 48 and the legislation will now be sent to a conference committee. Sponsored by Delegate Dickie Bell (R-20), HB 48 seeks to provide civil liability immunity to someone who uses any degree of physical force against another person when the other person has unlawfully entered the dwelling and committed an overt act.
This legislation was amended earlier this month by the Senate Courts of Justice Committee to address concerns that HB 48 would negatively impact your right to self-defense. This bill was previously in Criminal Code 18.2 but put into the Civil Procedures section, 8.01. In addition, the following language was added:
This section shall not be construed to limit, withdraw, or overturn any defense or immunity already existing in statutory or common law prior to the effective date of this law.
An equal number of conferees will be appointed from both the House and the Senate to address the differences in HB 48. If each house agrees to the report, the changes agreed to in the conference committee are incorporated into the bill and the "compromise" bill is enrolled and sent to the Governor. If the conference committee cannot agree or its report is rejected by either body, this legislation dies.