‘Ashanti Alert’ bill passes Virginia Senate, heads to Gov. Northam’s desk

RICHMOND – The Virginia Senate passed the bill Thursday created in honor and recognition of Ashanti Billie and those who have gone missing under similar circumstances.

Known as the “Ashanti Alert Act,” the bill would act as an AMBER Alert type of system to help local and regional law enforcement efforts in finding people who are between the ages of 19 and 65.

Ashanti Billie

The bill was passed unanimously with a vote of 40-0. It now heads to Gov. Ralph Northam’s desk as it awaits his signature.

“As spokesperson for the Ashanti Billie family, we are elated to hear this amazing news today,” said family spokesperson Kimberly Wimbish.

Like the AMBER Alert, this bill would allow for law enforcement to more easily use media outlets such as commercial radio stations, television stations, and cable television – to broadcast information about missing persons. The law enforcement agency that is investigating the case would have the authority and decision to make the alert.

It was introduced by Delegate Jerrauld “Jay” Jones.

“Every piece of legislation that goes through is wonderful but this is certainly special,” said Jones in an interview with News 3 Friday. “We want to make sure that we continue to do this work. This is just a portion of what we want to do in the legislature, which is save people’s lives and protect everything they work for.”

The bill unanimously passed the Senate courts of Justice Committee Monday.

A date hasn’t been set for Gov. Northam to sign the bill, but Jones said he hopes it will be sometime this spring.

Related:

Senate committee passes “Ashanti Alert” bill