Michael Bills and Clean Virginia Biggest Losers in Virginia Democratic Primary

Democrats nominated former governor Terry McAuliffe, Attorney General Mark Herring, and Delegate Hala Ayala (D-Prince William) for governor, attorney general, and lieutenant governor respectively. Progressive candidates lost both in those races, and down-ballot in the House of Delegates.

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Roundup: Democratic Lieutenant Governor Candidates Debate, Gubernatorial Candidates Spent Nearly $5.6 Million on TV/Radio

The last day of voting in the Democratic primary is June 8, a week and a half away, but 53,562 people have already voted, exceeding total 2017 turnout of 35,390, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. As the final days of the campaigns approach, gubernatorial and attorney general candidates have had plenty of opportunities to define their public image. However, the six remaining candidates for the Democratic lieutenant governor nomination haven’t had as much time in the spotlight. On Tuesday, the candidates met for a debat

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Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association Starts Podcast Series on 2021 Candidates and Healthcare

Set up of podcast with microphone and desktop computer with editing software.

The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association (VHHA) have announced a podcast series focusing on the 2021 candidates for office and their stances on healthcare. The series features statewide candidates from both parties addressing the healthcare issues of the Commonwealth. 

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Northam Acts on 552 General Assembly Bills from 2021 Sessions

Governor Ralph Northam announced the signing of 14 bills on Wednesday, March 31, which was a deadline for the Governor to take action on legislation passed in the 2021 General Assembly sessions. According to his announcement, took action on 552 bills with no vetoes, although he sent some back to the General Assembly with amendments.

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Virginia General Assembly Kills Bill to Require Equal Educational Opportunities Across All Schools

After passing in the Senate 34 to one, Senator Bill Stanley’s (R-Franklin County) constitutional amendment to require equitable educational opportunities in all Virginia schools was killed by the House of Delegates Privileges and Elections Committee. Virginia’s constitution requires that free school be provided for all school-aged children. Stanley’s bill SJ 275 would have added a requirement that those schools include “equitable educational opportunities” for all school-aged children.

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Bill to Ban Guns at Polling Places Passes Virginia Senate Committee

A bill that would ban guns within 40 feet of any polling place in Virginia passed the Senate Judiciary Committee Monday. 

“My Safe Elections Bill (HB2081), banning guns at polling places and vote counting centers, just passed the Senate Judiciary Committee! This bill protects both voters and election workers from intimidation. Those with guns don’t make the rules. Voters do,” Delegate Mark Levine (D-VA-45) said on Twitter.

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Virginia House Passes Repeal of Adoption Conscience Clause

The House of Delegates approved Delegate Mark Levine’s (D-Arlington) HB 1932 on Wednesday in a 53 to 43 vote. The bill would remove the child-placement conscience clause which protects child-placement agencies from being forced to place children where it would violate the agency’s moral or religious convictions. Supporters of the bill say it ends discrimination currently protected by the Commonwealth, but Catholic adoption agencies and Republican legislators warn that removing the protection could effectively eliminate thousands of potential homes for children in foster care and adoption programs. The bill is now in committee in the Senate.

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Democrats Kill Right-to-Work Repeal in Virginia House

Delegate Lee Carter’s right-to-work repeal died in crossover Friday, much like in the previous two years, but on Wednesday, Carter fought to give it one last chance. On the floor of the virtual House session, Carter raised a motion to discharge the bill from committee, a procedural move that would allow delegates to vote on hearing the bill in the House even though it had not been passed out of committee.

Carter said, “I’ve introduced this bill for the last three years running, and its fate in both previous years has been to die in crossover without a recorded vote on its final disposition.”

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Virginia House Subcommittee Votes to Change Bill to Automatically Restore Felon Voting Rights After Release from Prison

Delegate Jay Jones (D-Norfolk) and House Majority Leader Charniele Herring (D-Alexandria) both pre-filed bills that would automatically restore felon voting rights after the felons complete their sentences including probation. After discussion in a subcommittee Monday, the two bills will be combined under HJ555, and subcommittee members unanimously voted to change the bills to automatically restore voting rights after the felon has been released from prison, before completion of probation or other elements of the sentence.

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Virginia House Passes ‘Good Apples Bill’ Requiring Officers to Report Misconduct to Supervisors

The House of Delegates passed Delegate Mark Levine’s (D-Arlington) “Good Apples Bill,” which requires law enforcement officers to report acts of wrongdoing committed by other on-duty officers. It also requires officers to render aid if they witness someone suffering a serious bodily injury, and it expands a ban on biased-based profiling to include profiling by sexual orientation. In a vote Wednesday, HB 1948 passed 57-42, with three Republicans joining Democrats to vote for the bill.

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Virginia House Republicans Blast Slow COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

House of Delegate Republicans have repeatedly begun the regular sessions this week by blasting Virginia’s government for the slow COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

On Monday, GOP Caucus Chairman Delegate Kathy Byron (R-Bedford) said, “Madam Speaker, as we meet today, Virginia’s government is struggling in a critical life-saving mission. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Virginia has received over 850,000 doses of the COVID vaccine, but we have administered fewer than 250,000 doses. That performance ranks us among the lowest of the fifty states.”

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Delegate Mark Levine Announces Run for Lieutenant Governor in 2021

Virginia State Delegate Mark Levine (D-Arlington) announced last Monday that he was officially running for lieutenant governor and joining the crowded contest.

Levine, 54, is the 12th contender to enter into the race so far and, if elected, he would become Virginia’s first openly gay statewide elected official. 

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Virginia Republicans Blast Northam’s Budget Proposal to Expand Court of Appeals

After Governor Ralph Northam made a number of proposals to the state’s biennial budget on Wednesday, several Republican legislators rebuked the Democrat’s recommendation to expand the Virginia Court of Appeals and claimed he was trying to pack the court.

Northam presented his budget proposals during a virtual meeting with the House of Delegates and Senate appropriation committees.

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Virginia Undocumented Immigrants Allowed to Legally Drive in 2021 Under New Law

Beginning January 2nd, 2021, undocumented immigrants living in Virginia will be able to apply for official driving credentials, called a driver privilege card, with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), allowing non-citizens to lawfully drive within the Commonwealth for the first time.

The change in the state code stems from legislation the Democratic-controlled General Assembly passed earlier this year during the 2020 regular session and signed into law by Governor Ralph Northam.

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Virginia State Senator Sues Democratic Leaders Over Public Access to Office Building

Republican Senator Bill DeSteph (R-Virginia Beach) is suing Democratic legislative leaders over plans to restrict the public’s access to the Pocahontas Building during the upcoming regular session due to a rise in COVID-19 numbers.

On Tuesday, DeSteph filed a complaint in Richmond Circuit Court against Speaker of the House Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax County), Senate Rules Committee Chair Mamie Locke (D-Hampton), both the clerk of the House and the Senate as well as the Virginia Division of Capitol Police.

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Virginia FOIA Advisory Council Recommended Approval to Change Electronic Meetings Laws

The Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council on Wednesday backed legislation that revises state laws on electronic meetings and gives members of public bodies more freedom to participate virtually instead of in-person.

The council recommended approval of the changes to the Virginia General Assembly, where the final decision will happen, by a 10-2 vote.

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Virginia House Will Remain Virtual in 2021; Republicans Leaders Want to Keep Regular Session at 30 Days

Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax County) announced Monday that the Virginia House of Delegates would continue to meet virtually during the upcoming 2021 General Assembly regular session, just as they did during the special session, because of the current status of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the emailed statement, Filler-Corn’s decision was made after discussions with the Clerk of the House and officials from the Virginia Department of Health, which includes a letter from Virginia State Health Commissioner, Norman Oliver, strongly recommending the House hold sessions virtually “to the greatest extent possible.

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Constitutional Amendment on Redistricting Commission Approved by Virginia Voters

The majority of Virginia voters approved a constitutional amendment this week aimed to prevent and stop political gerrymandering by changing the Commonwealth’s redistricting process.

Sixty six percent of Virginians answered yes to constitutional amendment question 1 on ballots and, overall, voters in every locality were in support except for Arlington, while 34 percent voted no to the question, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.

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Fear Drives Record Gun Sales

Virginia is setting records for gun sales this year; already the FBI has processed 617,472 firearms background checks, beating 2019’s total of 512,766.

Bob Marcus owns Bob’s Guns in Norfolk. He said the increase in sales began a year ago. “We saw it after the General Assembly turned over back in November. It started with the election, and then the General Assembly went into session. And there were threats of the so-called assault weapons ban, and other restrictions, so it continued through January, February, and into March.”

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Virginia Election Ballots to Feature Proposed Constitutional Amendment on a New Redistricting Commission

When Virginians submit their ballots for the November elections they will not just be voting for the president or members of Congress, they will also be deciding how the state’s redistricting system will work going forward.

Redistricting is constitutionally mandated to occur every ten years after the completion of the most recent U.S. Census. 

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