RICHMOND—Virginia lawmakers to the state’s youth: Pull up your pants or pay the price.
Delegate Algie T. Howell Jr. doesn’t want to see underwear hanging out of the back of your pants, and most lawmakers yesterday agreed with him. The House voted 60-34 for his bill, which would impose a $50 fine on anyone whose boxers, briefs or thongs peek above their pants or skirts.
“It’s not an attack on baggy pants,” said Mr. Howell, Norfolk Democrat. “To vote for this bill would be a vote for character, to uplift your community and to do something good not only for the state of Virginia, but for this entire country.”
It’s not clear if the fine would apply to plumbers, carpenters or other laborers who have problems with low-riding pants. The bill states the fine would apply to those who display their below-the-waist underwear in a “lewd or indecent manner.”
Several lawmakers and civil rights groups said the legislation—sometimes referred to as the “droopy drawers” bill—is excessive and would encourage racial profiling, arguing that exposed underwear is simply a fashion statement by mostly black youths.
Delegate Lionell Spruill Sr., Chesapeake Democrat, said the bill violates the Constitution.
“This is a foolish bill because it will hurt so many,” said Mr. Spruill, who is black. “This will be a bill that will target blacks.”
Mr. Howell’s bill has been sent to the Senate, where its chances were not clear yesterday.
E-mail Del. Howell: [email protected]