There are two new Delegates, Angelia Williams Graves (D-90) replacing Joe Lindsay who left to become a judge; and Candi King (D-02), replacing Jennifer Carroll Foy, who resigned early to focus on her gubernatorial campaign.
Because this is a short (even-year) session, each Delegate is only allowed to file 7 bills.
Republicans tried to play hardball about the 30 day limit to the session, refusing to extend it to 45 days as is usually done.
Governor Northam has indicated though that he will call a special session at the conclusion of the 30 days to ensure all the work can be completed.
What’s going on in the Senate?
Unlike the House, the Senate will hold floor sessions, as they did during the special session, in person in Richmond at the Science Museum.
The Science Museum provided a larger space than the Senate chambers at the Capitol, so that Senators could be seated 6 feet apart.
The Senate is short one member, Republican Ben Chafin (R-38), who died from COVID-19 on January 1st.
Senator Amanda Chase (R-11), who is running for Governor, has been fully entrenched in the false claims about the 2020 Presidential election, and attended the seditious riots at the US Capitol on January 6th, purportedly leaving before the insurgents broke into the Capitol.
Senate Democrats have called for her to resign, and many people would like to see the Senate move to expel her, which would require a 2/3 vote of the full Senate.
Senators are allowed to file 10 bills each during this short (even-year) session.
…some bills to watch
Voting Rights: SJ272 (Locke, SD-02, with a likely House counterpart) would assert that all registered citizen Virginia residentsaged 18+ have a right to vote that cannot be taken away. This removes the restriction for those with felony records.
Abolishing the death penalty: SB1165 (Surovell, SD-36) and HB1779 (Carter, HD-50) would repeal Virginia’s death penalty, including retroactively to the two men currently on death row. All candidates for governor, as well as Governor Northam, have indicated they would support such a bill.
Marijuana legalization: It’s expected that there will be a bill to legalize marijuana, including a regulated marketplace and taxes. To be determined: whether preference in licenses will be given to people harmed by prior marijuana laws, how will tax revenues be spent?
Ban the Box on higher education applications:HB1930 (Aird, HD-63) would prevent colleges and universities from asking about criminal history on applications, or discriminating on the basis of criminal history.
Repeal Same Sex Marriage Ban:HJ539 (Levine, HD-45) and SJ270 (Ebbin, SD-30) would repeal the same sex marriage ban that was written into the Virginia Constitution following the 2006 referendum. This ban has already been found to be unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court.
Shifting municipal elections to November:SB1157 (Spruill, SD-5) aligns local municipal elections with November general elections, to help increase turnout.
If any of the above bills are important to you, now is the time to contact your legislators and tell them how this bill affects you and your family. Contact information for Delegates and Senators can be found HERE; if you aren’t sure who represents you, put your address in HERE to find out.
Virginia Progressive Legislative Alert Network
PO Box 2612, Merrifield Virginia 22116-2612 United States