Virginia General Assembly 2020 Special Session Day Two


It was relatively quiet during day two of the Virginia General Assembly special session as the House adjourned after less than an hour of meeting, while the Senate was more lively during member’s points of personal privilege.

Wednesday marked the first day the House held session electronically, with Speaker Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax County) and the House Clerk in the actual chamber of the Capitol building. The Senate, just like on Tuesday, held its session at the Science Museum of Virginia.

The first morning hour of business in the House began with the second reading of House Resolution (HR) 514, pertaining to conducting sessions virtually, but, delegates had technology issues with the virtual meeting software and were not present for the reading. After resolving those technology issues HR 514 was read by the clerk again.

During members requests for points of personal privilege, Del. Simon (D-Fairfax) referenced Republican delegates’ complaints about HR 516 passed Tuesday, which allotted per diem and travel reimbursements for sessions attended, arguing that the per diem had not been set yet and that meeting virtually saved money.

The House adjourned until noon Thursday when they will again hold session virtually.

In a statement Wednesday, House Minority Leader Del. Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) continued to voice his displeasure with the majority for passing said resolution.

“When this Special Session convened, Republicans came to Richmond with the intention to stay and do the people’s business, including balancing the Commonwealth’s budget,” Del. Gilbert said. “We know how precious every single tax dollar is at this time.

“Now that members will no longer be traveling, the House Republican caucus believes it is wrong to accept these payments, and has instructed the Clerk of the House to withhold travel related per diem payments for Republicans.”

Over in the Science Museum, Senate members were conducting the session accordingly.

After the initial session-opening procedures and roll being taken, the Senate began reporting bills and bill substitutes relating to an array of issues from various committees such as the Judiciary and Education and Health.

Then, some Bills were referred between different committees, a routine part of the legislative process. The Senate then agreed to multiple memorial and commending resolutions.

Procedures heated up a little between members during requests for points of personal privilege while discussing Senate Bill 5034, introduced by Sen. Boysko (D-33), relating to the conditional release of prisoners by the Virginia Parole Board.

Republican and Democrat senators went back and forth on the issue of prison reform including changes to the parole board and releasing offenders back onto the streets, with some senators specifically referencing past heinous crimes against women.

“Now he is on the street, in the neighborhood and reaching out to those victims to want to contact them, that’s abhorrent to me.” Sen. McDougle (R-4) said. “There are people certainly that have done horrible acts in their life that deserve forgiveness and our system should be set up so that we can have forgiveness. But, Mr. President, there are some things that you do where you still have to pay a price, even if we forgive you, even if do the right things going forward.”

After senators continued back and forth on the subject and some respond to certain comments made by members who spoke, Sen. Boysko clarified her bill and specific amendments.

“I would like to point out, once again, that the bill does not release or give the option for increased numbers of earned credit for violent felons.” Boysko said. “We have heard today a long discussion about the horrors that women have gone through who are victims of rape. However, I will say once again, the bill that we are talking about in this chamber, that we have been considering excludes anyone who has perpetrated a violent crime on a woman including rape, including murder, including malicious wounding. They are not part of the debate in this Senate chamber.”

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Saslaw (D-35) ended the discussions on prison reform and potential recidivism with a lengthy speech on the matter, which was followed by two scheduling questions from Senate Minority Leader Sen. Norment (D-3).

The Senate then adjourned to reconvene Thursday at noon.

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Jacob Taylor is a reporter at The Virginia Star and the Star News Network. Follow Jacob on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Todd Gilbert” by Law Office of Todd Gilbert. Background Photo “Virginia House Chambers” by Germanna CC. CC BY 2.0.








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