Virginia Senate and House Disagree over How to Restore Felon Voting Rights

The Senate and the House of Delegates face a disagreement over constitutional amendments to end felon disenfranchisement. SJ 272, introduced by Senator Mamie Locke (D-Hampton) and HJ 555, introduced by House Majority Leader Charniele Herring (D-Alexandria) both effectively restore felon voting rights after the term of imprisonment is completed. However, the two bills feature different language, and on Wednesday, the Senate shot down an attempt by the House to change SJ 272 to match HJ 555. Now, the two chambers will attempt to draft a compromise bill in conference.

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From Same-Sex Marriage to Equal Education Opportunities, Seven Constitutional Amendments Are Moving Through Virginia Legislature

The Virginia General Assembly considered over a dozen constitutional amendments in its two chambers this session; seven of them have been passed in either the House or the Senate. Last week, Senate Minority Leader Thomas Norment (R-James City) criticized the high number.

“I recognize that times change,” he said on the Senate floor. “I recognize that Virginia has changed and I recognize that there is a new cadre of legislators who have a different perspective on what the policies of the commonwealth should be.”

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Virginia Legislature Moving Forward with Constitutional Amendment to Give Felons Voting Rights

Virginia’s House Majority Leader celebrated Wednesday morning after a bill she introduced passed through committee. 

“What a great way to start the day!” Majority Leader Charniele Herring (D-VA-46) said on Twitter. “My proposed constitutional amendment that will put an end to the disenfranchisement of felons has passed out of the Privileges and Elections Committee and is on its way to the house floor!”

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