Second Richmond Casino Referendum off the November Ballot

Richmond’s Office of Elections is removing a second referendum on whether or not to approve a casino in the city, after developers and city officials backed down in the face of opposition from the General Assembly.

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Former Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax Says FBI Is Investigating Origins of Allegations That Derailed His Political Career

Former Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax says the FBI is investigating the origins of allegations of sexual assault that tainted Fairfax, potentially blocking him from becoming governor.

“Investigators have been given evidence of fabrication regarding the accusations and evidence regarding the orchestration of a lengthy smear campaign,” Fairfax said in a Tuesday statement. “For over three years, I have asked for this matter to be investigated because I knew the allegations were patently false and I knew that I would be exonerated.”

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In Family Foundation Webinar, Youngkin, Earle-Sears, Celebrate Dobbs Decision, But Don’t Expect Rapid Change in Virginia’s Abortion Laws

Governor Glenn Youngkin and Lieutenant Governor Winsome Earle-Sears spoke in a Tuesday evening webinar where speakers highlighted the win for conservatives in the Dobbs decision, while also calling on pro-life supporters to vote, donate, and volunteer for Republicans in upcoming elections. 21-19 Democratic control of the Senate was a constant theme of the speakers, who sounded a note of caution about the speed of change Virginians should expect.

“Any bill that comes to my desk, I will sign happily and gleefully in order to protect life,” Youngkin said

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U.S. Supreme Court Abortion Ruling Makes Virginia an Abortion Haven, Triggers Wave of Political Statements

The U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade launched a wave of statements from Virginia politicians on Friday. Abortion remains legal in Virginia with some limitations, and split control of Virginia’s government leaves both Republicans and Democrats seeking to use the issue to motivate their own voter base. Pro-choice protesters held multiple rallies across Virginia on Friday, with more planned for the weekend.

Governor Glenn Youngkin has largely been quiet about abortion, but on Friday he released two statements reacting to the Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling. Additionally, Youngkin spokesperson Macaulay Porter said Youngkin is pushing for a 15-week abortion ban.

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General Assembly Kills Gas Tax Holiday, Hyde Amendment, but Pass Partial Lab School Expansion in FY 23-24 Budget

RICHMOND, Virginia — The Virginia General Assembly approved many of Governor Glenn Youngkin’s budget amendments on Friday, but in mostly-partisan votes, killed his efforts to expand a ban on using state tax dollars on abortions, and to create a three-month gas tax holiday. Additionally, House Republicans and Democrats killed an amendment that would have made it a felony to protest outside courts and justices’ homes to influence proceedings.

Youngkin criticized the defeat of the gas tax holiday on Twitter: “Democrats failed to put politics aside for the good of Virginians — for a third time.”

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Youngkin Budget Amendments Include Gas Tax Holiday, Ban on Taxpayer-Funded Abortions, and Law Against Picketing Justices

Governor Glenn Youngkin is sending 35 budget amendments to the General Assembly to approve on Friday, including a gas tax holiday, a ban on using state Medicaid funds for some abortions, and a law that would make it a class six felony to picket or demonstrate outside a courthouse or residences of justices and judges. The Democratic Senate is expected to block of Youngkin’s controversial changes, but eyes are on Senator Joe Morrissey (D-Richmond) to see if he’ll vote with Republicans to approve the abortion funding ban.

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Judge Dismisses Request for Protective Order Against Virginia State Sen. Morrissey After Altercation with Radio Producers

RICHMOND, Virginia – A Richmond District Court judge dismissed two requests for two-year protective orders against State Senator Joe Morrissey (D-Richmond), who was alleged to have threatened staff on his radio show. But hours of testimony from several witnesses were contradictory and incomplete, leaving a he-said-she-said story of an intense…

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City of Richmond Officials, Casino Developers Threaten Legal Action After General Assembly Blocks 2022 Casino Referendum

The recently-passed Fiscal Year 2023-2024 budget includes language blocking the City of Richmond from holding another casino referendum until November 2023. Richmond officials have called for a 2022 referendum after voters rejected a casino in 2021, but Senator Joe Morrissey (D-Richmond) is instead pushing for Petersburg to be granted a casino license, and on Thursday afternoon, Richmond officials and the casino developers suggested they were considering legal action.

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Former Del. Aird Announces Campaign for Senate District 13, Will Face Sen. Morrissey

Former Delegate Lashrecse Aird announced her candidacy for the 2023 Democratic nomination in the new Senate District 13, setting up a primary battle with State Senator Joe Morrissey (D-Richmond), who intends to move into the district and run for the seat. “In just one month, I’ve watched our Commonwealth torn…

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Richmond Judge Approves Second Casino Referendum

A Richmond judge approved a second Richmond casino referendum, Mayor Levar Stoney announced Monday.

“Today is a good day in the City of Richmond because our residents have an opportunity to vote in November for 1500 good-paying jobs and tax relief with the One Casino + Resort referendum being back on the table thanks in part to the recent certification by the Virginia Lottery and the subsequent ruling by Richmond Circuit Court today,” Stoney said in a press release.

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Former EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler Gets Role as Senior Advisor After Being Blocked from Secretary of Natural and Historic Resources

Former Trump-era EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler will serve as a senior advisor to Governor Glenn Youngkin after the Virginia Senate blocked Wheeler’s confirmation as Secretary of Natural and Historic Resources. Deputy Secretary Travis Voyles is acting secretary.

Wheeler was a controversial pick among Democrats both for his link to former President Donald Trump and for the policy direction the EPA took during Wheeler’s tenure. E and E News reported Monday that Wheeler said Democrats had planned to block a nominee even before he was announced.

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Despite Virginia Republican Control of House and the Governor’s Mansion, Most Pro-Life Legislation Hits Senate Democrat Brick Wall

man's hand holding an infants head

With Republicans in control of the House of Delegates and the governorship, and with a pro-life Democrat in the Senate who could offer ties to the Republican lieutenant governor, there were high hopes for pro-life policy when the 2022 General Assembly session began. But with the session approaching its March 12 adjournment, only a few lower-profile pieces of pro-life legislation will make it to the governor’s desk.

“In many ways, it was very much what we expected. We expected the Senate to be nothing but a giant roadblock to any rational or reasonable legislation that would have truly moved the ball forward for protecting unborn children and their mothers. And they did exactly that,” Virginia Society for Human Life President Olivia Gans Turner told The Virginia Star.

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Senate Budget Amendment Would Block Richmond’s Second Attempt to Get a Casino

The Senate Finance Committee killed a bill that would have blocked the City of Richmond from holding another casino referendum, after voters voted against a casino proposal in 2021. The bill would have granted the opportunity to build the casino to nearby Petersburg instead, and some committee members expressed a desire to study the potential implications of a Petersburg casino. The February 10 vote against the bill left the door open for Richmond to try again, and take the last of five casino licenses in Virginia. Now, Senator Joe Morrissey (D-Richmond) is pushing to block Richmond through a budget amendment.

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Virginia Gov. Youngkin Signs School Mask-Optional Bill

RICHMOND, Virginia – Governor Glenn Youngkin signed a school mask-optional bill into law from the steps of the capitol on Wednesday afternoon, hours after the House of Delegates approved his amendments adding an emergency clause and a March 1 effective date.

“Today, we are reestablishing, restoring power back from parents. We are also reestablishing our expectations that we will get back to normal, and this is the path, this is the path. So thank you all for coming. And now, we’re going to do a little work,” Youngkin told the crowd before signing the bill.

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Virginia State Senate Approves Youngkin’s Emergency Clause in Mask-Optional Bill

The Senate has approved Governor Glenn Youngkin’s amendments to the recently passed school mask-optional bill. The amendments, which an aide said Youngkin sent to the Senate on Monday evening, include clauses making the bill take effect on March 1.

“As you can probably tell from my remarks, I would like this to take effect yesterday, but that’s not going to happen. And I do believe that we’re going to need a transition time for some of our Northern Virginia school districts and probably elsewhere in the state,” co-sponsor Senator Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax City) said on the Senate floor on Tuesday evening.

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Senate Democrats Block Republican Effort to Revive Youngkin’s Nomination of Former Trump EPA Head to Serve as Sec. of Natural and Historic Resources

Virginia Senate Democrats defeated an effort to revive confirmation of former Trump EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler as Governor Glenn Youngkin’s secretary of natural and historic resources. In committee last week, Democrats voted to remove Wheeler from SJ 84, the bill to confirm Youngkin’s cabinet selections. On Tuesday, Republicans opposed a vote to confirm the committee amendment.

Senator Richard Stuart (R-King George) said that Wheeler had been impressive in committee interviews, and had a record of helping Virginia.

“But I get the politics. I understand that some of these environmental groups out there don’t like him because of who he worked for. And that’s just a real shame, because we have an opportunity here to confirm somebody who has the real credentials and I’ve not heard one member in this body object to his credentials or his qualifications,” he said.

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Richmond City Democratic Committee Votes to Censure Sen. Morrissey

The Richmond City Democratic Committee voted Thursday to censure Senator Joe Morrissey (D-Richmond) over threats Morrissey made to Petersburg NAACP President Lafayette Jefferson.

RCDC member Jimmie Lee Jarvis made the motion to censure the senator. “I was very upset to read, and then hear, Sen. Morrissey’s appalling and repeated threats of violence against a constituent, Mr. Jefferson,” Jarvis said according to The Virginia Scope.

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Virginia House of Delegates Passes Locality Gun Control Repeal

The House of Delegates passed a bill to repeal the 2020 law authorizing localities to ban firearms on locality property. Delegates debated the bill on Wednesday before the vote Thursday.

“House Bill 827 returns our code back to its prior position,” Delegate Tony Wilt (R-Rockingham) said on Wednesday. “Other portions of the bill: it eliminates the requirement to destroy firearms that are confiscated and rather allows them to be offered for sale through a licensed dealer. And it also limits the ability of localities to sue firearm manufacturers.”

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Senate Committee Blocks Confirmation of Trump EPA Chief to Serve as Youngkin’s Secretary of Natural Resources; Republicans Planning Consequences

RICHMOND, Virginia – The Senate Privileges and Elections Committee blocked Governor Glenn Youngkin’s nominee for Secretary of Natural Resources, former Trump EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. On Tuesday afternoon, Senator Creigh Deeds (D-Bath) moved to remove Wheeler’s name from a Senate resolution to confirm the nominees.

“We received a letter from 150 former EPA employees, who suggested that Mr. Wheeler had undermined the work of the EPA and worked against the environmental interests in this country. We think that members of the governor’s cabinet ought to be able to unite us as Virginians, and certainly the secretary of natural resources ought to be one that we have confidence in, in terms of working for the preservation and conservation of our natural resources,” Deeds said.

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Youngkin’s Sec. Natural Resources Designee Andrew Wheeler Faces Tough House, Mild Senate Committee Interviews

Two General Assembly committees grilled former Trump EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, Youngkin’s pick for Secretary of Natural Resources. Senate Democrats may use their 21 to 19 majority to block his confirmation, a rare move in Virginia politics, but potential swing vote Senator Joe Morrissey (D-Richmond) may be open minded. On Wednesday, House Democrats hammered Wheeler in the House Agriculture, Chesapeake, and Natural Resources Committee.

Before the meeting, House Minority Leader Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax) said she hoped Youngkin would rescind the nomination.

“Mr. Wheeler’s tenure as Donald Trump’s EPA Administrator set back our national climate policy by a generation. We cannot afford more of the same in Virginia,” Filler-Corn said in a press release.

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Despite November Referendum Defeat, Richmond City Council Votes to Try Again to Bring Casino to Richmond

The Richmond City Council voted eight to one to again pursue bringing an Urban One casino to the city, despite voters rejecting the casino in a November referendum. Pro-casino spending hit about $2 million, but local grassroots activism and $200,000 defeated the proposal. Shortly afterwards a survey about the casino proposal began circulating, and Councilmember Reva Trammell began collecting signatures for a petition to hold another referendum, according to The Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Trammell’s district includes the proposed site of the casino. Before the Monday evening vote, she said that misinformation and difficulty voting were part of the reason the referendum failed.

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Virginia Lawmaker Introduces ‘Pain-Capable’ Abortion Ban

Delegate Nick Freitas (R-Culpeper) has introduced a bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks in most circumstances, a threshold based on when the unborn are believed to feel pain.

“We’re actually making sure that it’s understood that this is about the capability to feel pain, it’s not about an arbitrary 20-week schedule,” Freitas told The Virginia Star.

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Virginia Sens. Saslaw, Howell Help Republicans Kill Sen. Morrissey’s Parole Expansion Bill

Senate Majority Leader Richard Saslaw (D-Fairfax) and Senator Janet Howell (D-Fairfax) helped Republicans kill Senator Joe Morrissey’s (D-Richmond) SB 109, which would have expanded parole eligibility from people who were juveniles when sentenced to people under 21. Parole has been a key target of Virginia Republicans and tough-on-crime policy is a priority for them as they try to roll back criminal justice reforms passed by Democrats in previous years. Saslaw’s Thursday vote came the day after a committee meeting where he appeared flexible on instituting some mandatory minimums, also a Republican goal.

“Senate Bill 109 expands juvenile parole. During the 2020 General Assembly session, you all recall Senator Marsden’s bill that was Senate Bill 103 that allowed individuals who were sentenced as juveniles, and who have served 20 or more years, to be eligible for parole. That’s now the law. Senate Bill 109 expands  the definition of juvenile and it changes it to youthful offender, which allows individuals who were 20 years of age or younger and who have served twenty years to become parole eligible,” Morrissey explained to the Senate Judiciary Committee on January 17.

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Senate Committee Kills Republican Election Integrity Reforms, Obenshain-Chase Conflict Resurfaces, Surovell Criticizes Miyares for Firing 30 Attorneys

RICHMOND, Virginia — The Virginia Senate Privileges and Elections killed several Republican- sponsored elections integrity bills on Tuesday afternoon, including photo voter identification bills and a bill to repeal same-day voter registration. The committee also killed campaign finance reform bills from Senators Joe Morrissey (D-Richmond) and Senator Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax.)

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Commentary: Meritocracy Against the Wokes

Poor Democrats — they haven’t been this ruffled about Republicans taking over Richmond since 1865.

Truly, it’s hard to feel much sympathy for the Virginia Democrats, whose lust for power and the damage they did in just two years was something to behold. What they deemed progress consisted mostly of bulldozing history, embedding outright racism into our classrooms and bureaucracy, and institutionalizing mental illness to the degree where if such things are questioned you are swiftly beaten out of the public square — or worse, the Twitter mob is followed up by a media no one reads and you are marched off to your own private gulag.

Yet I digress.

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Governor Ralph Northam Pardons Sen. Morrissey for Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor

Governor Ralph Northam announced Friday that he has issued more than 1,200 pardons during his term in office. That includes a January 13 pardon for Senator Joe Morrissey (D-Richmond), who was sentenced in 2014 of contributing to the delinquency of a minor after a relationship with a 17-year-old employee who is now his wife.

“Both Myra and I are extremely pleased and are grateful for the governor’s pardon. And the people who will be most grateful and most appreciative will be my four young children in the ensuing years,” Morrissey told The Virginia Star.

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Tina Ramirez Announces Run for Senate District 12, Setting Up Likely Nomination Battle with State Sen. Amanda Chase

Tina Ramirez has scrubbed her campaign for the GOP nomination for congressional district seven, due to redistricting. On Wednesday, she announced that she will run for state Senate District 12 in 2023. That sets her up for a primary battle with self-proclaimed Trump-in-heels Senator Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield), whose own CD 7 ambitions were smashed by redistricting.

“The 12th Senate District is a wholly new district, which is exciting because we need new voices and fresh ideas,” Ramirez told The Richmond-Times Dispatch. “This is what I bring to the conservative movement.”

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Democratic State Senator Morrissey Key to Virginia Republican Legislative Policy Wins, Including Fetal Pain Abortion Ban

Senator Joe Morrissey (D-Richmond) is set to be one of the most important legislators in the 2022 General Assembly session. The Virginia Senate has 21 Democrats and 19 Republicans, meaning that with just one Democratic senator swinging on a vote, Lieutenant Governor-elect Winsome Sears, a Republican, will cast a tie-breaking vote. Morrissey is a pro-life Democrat, and although he may be a standard Democrat on many issues, he occasionally finds common ground with Republicans.

“I don’t believe that being pro-life is something that is just in the orbit of Republicans,” Morrissey told The Virginia Star. “And let’s be clear: I’m not being disrespectful towards those that are pro-choice. It is my choice to be pro-life. It’s how I feel, and I’ve never wavered from that since the moment I came into the General Assembly.”

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Virginia State Sen. Morrissey Introducing Legislation to Strengthen Good Samaritan Law

Senator Joe Morrissey (D-Richmond) is drafting legislation to strengthen a Virginia law that protects people from arrest or prosecution for substance-related crimes when experiencing or reporting overdoses. The law was originally passed in 2015 to make sure that people needing emergency medical attention could get needed care. Morrissey said that Henrico Commonwealth’s Attorney Shannon Taylor’s office is circumventing the law.

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Republicans Flip Seven Seats and the Virginia House Majority

Virginia Republicans retook the House of Delegates by protecting their incumbents and flipping seven seats, giving them a 52-48 majority, according to unofficial election results. Those flips included some predictable results. Otto Wachsmann defeated Delegate Roslyn Tyler (D-Sussex). Republicans won in four out of five competitive Virginia Beach races. Mike Cherry protected Republican control of outgoing Delegate Kirk Cox’s (R-Colonial Heights) district.

Republicans also pulled off some surprises. A.C. Cordoza has apparently defeated Delegate Martha Mugler (D-Hampton) 49.68 percent to 48.70 percent — a nail biting result since mail-in ballots can still come in.

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Grassroots Kills Richmond Casino Despite Nearly $2 Million in Campaign Spending

Richmond voters decided against the One Casino + Resort proposal 51.44 percent to 48.56 percent of votes in Tuesdays’ referendum, according to unofficial results at The Virginia Public Access Project. That’s despite $1.9 million in funding for the campaign, and major endorsements including Mayor Levar Stoney, rapper Missy Elliott, and actor Jamie Foxx. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe endorsed the casino, and his opponent governor-elect Glenn Youngkin approved of the proposal. Senator Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) was the only major figure to speak against the proposal.

“They had everything you could want. Massive endorsements from everybody, all the big shots,” Paul Goldman said.

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Commentary: Virginia Likely to Reinstate Parole for Even Murderers

man in handcuffs

Senator Joe Morrissey (D-Richmond) predicts that Virginia’s senate will vote to bring back parole in 2022 — “across the board,” meaning for even the most serious crimes, such as murder. Restoring parole could increase the number of murders, rapes, and robberies in Virginia. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports:

A movement to reinstate parole in Virginia could hinge on the outcome of election results next month. Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe has indicated willingness to support expanded parole….While many Democrats support reinstating parole broadly in Virginia, Republicans generally oppose it. The Democrats hold a 55-45 seat edge in the House of Delegates…the issue will be debated in next year’s General Assembly session.

“I will be introducing a bill that will reintroduce parole across the board,” said Sen. Joe Morrissey, D-Richmond. “I think it will pass [the] Senate Judiciary [Committee] and … the full body.” Democrats control the Senate 21-19. Senators are not up for election until 2023. But Morrissey said he predicts a possible roadblock to parole expansion in the House, where he thinks Republicans will make gains in the Nov. 2 election….Virginia created parole in 1942 and abolished it in 1995, passing a “truth in sentencing” law among other criminal justice measures in an effort to reduce high crime rates….

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Virginia Gubernatorial Candidate McAuliffe Endorses Richmond Casino Proposal

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe has endorsed the ONE Casino + Resort proposal that Richmond voters are currently considering.

“I mean, think about what’s going to happen here in Richmond,” McAuliffe said in a Twitter video Thursday. “Construction: 3,000 jobs. 15,000 permanent jobs. $50 million in revenue that will help schools, hospitals, everything else. I’m so excited.”

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Senator Kaine Votes Against Richmond Casino

Richmond voters are currently deciding if the ONE Casino +Resort proposal will be approved or not, and Senator Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) has said that he voted against the proposal.

“Senator Kaine voted on Monday, September 20. He voted against the casino proposal. He believes there are better ways to enhance economic development in Richmond,” Kaine’s office said in a statement.

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Virginia Senate Republicans Angry After Democrats Interview Court of Appeals Candidates in Private

RICHMOND, Virginia – Republican legislators say that Democrats are leaving them out of the process of vetting candidates to fill eight Virginia Court of Appeals seats. Next week, legislators are expected to appoint judges to the newly-expanded court. But Democrats privately interviewed the candidates on Wednesday and only intend to advance eight candidates to be approved by the General Assembly, as first reported by The Virginia Mercury and The Richmond Times-Dispatch. On Thursday, Republican and Democratic senators went back-and-forth on the Senate floor about the process.

“I am confident that there were no Republicans who were invited to participate in those interviews and I just want to point out that it seems to be a little bit of a theme that has developed during the course of this session,” Senator Mark Obenshain (R-Rockingham) said. “There is way too much business that’s being conducted behind closed doors, out of the view of the public.”

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Morrissey Says Skill Games Ban Is a Civil Rights Abuse, Calls on Attorney General Herring to Investigate

Senator Joe Morrissey (D-Virginia) is calling for Attorney General Mark Herring to investigate alleged civil rights violations associated with Virginia’s skill games ban that took effect in July.

“Last session, the General Assembly banned skill games while at the same time they authorized casinos to be built, they expanded historical horse betting, they authorized online sports betting. But the people who were left out are these small business operators that represent the fabric of Virginia,” Morrissey said in a press conference Monday morning.

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Lobbyist Advocates Video Game Terminals as Alternative to Skill Games

A lobbyist flew four Virginia state legislators to Illinois on Tuesday to pitch video game terminals (VGT) as an alternative to the recently-banned skill games popular in the Commonwealth’s convenience stores.

“I was wildly impressed with the regulations and control that the Illinois gaming board has on VGT machines. It is impossible to game the system,” Senator Joe Morrissey (D-Richmond) told The Virginia Star.

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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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Marijuana Legal to Possess After July 1, But Still Illegal to Buy or Trade in Virginia

Possessing marijuana in amounts of up to one ounce will be legal July 1, but sales will still be outlawed in Virginia until 2024. That means there will be no clear legal way to acquire marijuana or marijuana plants, despite possession itself being legal.

“Outside of the medical cannabis program, there remains no legal access to marijuana in Virginia,” Virginia NORML Executive Director Jenn Michelle Pedini told The Virginia Star.

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Effective in July, Virginia Legalizes Small Amounts of Marijuana

RICHMOND, Virginia Simple possession of up to one ounce of marijuana will be legal in Virginia, effective July 1. On Wednesday, the Virginia General Assembly approved Governor Ralph Northam’s proposal to expedite legalization from 2024 to later this year. But legislators warned that doesn’t mean there will be a marijuana free-for-all.

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Special Election for Virginia’s 38th Senate District

Former Radford City Councilwoman Laurie Buchwald (D) and Tazewell County Supervisor Travis Hackworth (R) are battling for election to represent Virginia’s 38th Senate district; although early voting started in February, the final day to vote is Tuesday, March 23. The special election will fill a seat left vacant at the beginning of January when Senator Ben Chafin (R-Russell) became the first member of the General Assembly to die of COVID-19.

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Virginia Senate Judiciary Committee Kills Ban on Cyber Flashing

Delegate Kelly Convirs-Fowler’s (D-Virginia Beach) HB 2254 passed with unanimous support in the House of Delegates. The bill would ban people from sending unsolicited obscene images to others. But after the House sent the bill to the Senate, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted eight to five to table the bill February 17, citing concerns that the bill could be applied too broadly.

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Bipartisan Effort to Create an In-Person Learning Bill Slowly Moving Through the Virginia General Assembly

Senator Siobhan Dunnavant’s (R-Henrico) SB 1303 requiring schools to provide both in-person and virtual learning options is still moving through the House of Delegates, but slowly. Dunnavant’s bill earned bipartisan support in the Senate, thanks in part to support from Senators Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax) and Joe Morrissey (D-Richmond.) But a House Education subcommittee initially introduced several amendments to the bill that would effectively leave the status quo intact, prompting opposition from House Republicans

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Bill Prohibiting Solitary Confinement Use in State Prisons, Juvenile Facilities Reports Out of Virginia Senate Committee

A bill in the state Senate that would prohibit prisons and juvenile facilities run by the Virginia Department of Corrections (DOC) from placing offenders in solitary confinement was reported out of the Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee on Friday.

Specifically, Senate Bill 1301 does not outright ban the use of solitary confinement – defined as 17 or more hours in a cell for juveniles and 20 or more hours for adult prisoners – but more so restricts the practice and implements safeguards against misuse

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Legislation Eliminating Mandatory Minimum Sentences Passes Through Virginia Senate Committee

Legislation to remove most mandatory minimum sentences in Virginia advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday through a 9-6 party-line vote.

Senate Bill 1443 would end the mandatory minimum prison time for more than 200 crimes in the Commonwealth that carry the specific punishments, including assault and battery, rape and other sexual crimes, drug distribution and possession, child pornography as well as driving under the influence (DUI).

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Virginia Senate to Vote on Legislation Giving Certain Health Insurance Plans Abortion Coverage Option

The Senate of Virginia on Friday will vote to pass legislation out of the body that would allow for private health insurance companies offering plans through the state exchange to have the option for abortion coverage.

Senate Bill 1276 was introduced by Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond City), who is also a gubernatorial candidate seeking the Democratic nomination, and co-sponsored by three other Democratic legislators.

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Bipartisan Group of Senators Call for Governor to Reopen Virginia’s Schools

Three Virginia state Senators called for Governor Ralph Northam on Wednesday to reopen public schools across the Commonwealth and mandate in-person learning as an option for families struggling with virtual instruction. 

Just hours before the General Assembly kicked off its 2021 session, Senators Joe Morrissey (D-Richmond City), Siobhan Dunnavant (R-Henrico) and Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax City) held a press conference to discuss the matter.

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Virginia Senate Democrats’ Top Agendas for Upcoming Legislative Session

The Virginia General Assembly 2021 regular session is right around the corner on January 13 and the Democrats will again be calling all the shots for the legislature thanks to their majority in both the Senate and the House of Delegates.

This means that the agendas and priorities of Democrats in the Senate – as well as their counterparts in the House – have quite a good chance of passing through each chamber if broadly supported. Yet, what exactly are Senate Democrats focusing on?

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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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