Two Bills Seeking Increased Transparency From State Parole Board Pass Virginia Senate

The Virginia state Senate on Monday passed two bills relating to the Virginia Parole Board that aim to bring more transparency to individual votes and give warnings to victims of crimes or their families when a decision to release an offender has been made.

Senate Bill 1125, introduced by Sen. Mark Obenshain (R-Rockingham), specifically requires the board to notify a victim of a crime through either written or electronic means that a decision has been made to grant parole to the inmate who committed the related offense.

Read More

Legislation Requiring Virginia School Divisions to Offer In-Person Learning Option Advances in Senate

Legislation that would require local school divisions in Virginia to make in-person learning available to all students advanced out of the Senate Education and Health Committee on Thursday with some bipartisan support.

Senate Bill 1303, introduced by Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant (R-Henrico), just barely passed out of the committee by an 8-7 vote. All six Republicans voted in favor of the bill and two Democrats joined, while the rest of the committee members opposed.

Read More

House Passes Legislation to Help Virginia Administer Vaccinations, Senate Version Waiting to be Heard

The Virginia House of Delegates on Tuesday passed emergency legislation to speed up the state’s slow vaccination campaign by expanding which health care workers can administer shots to citizens and locations serving as inoculation sites.

House Bill 2333, introduced by Del. Lamont Bagby (D-Henrico), passed the House with bipartisan support from committee to a final floor vote in just one day, a process that normally takes multiple meetings of the body.

Read More

Virginia Senate Passes Bill Repealing Witness Signature Requirement for Absentee Ballots

The Virginia state Senate on Monday passed legislation that would repeal the witness signature requirement when people in the Commonwealth use absentee ballots to vote in elections.

Introduced by Sen. Barbara Favola (D-Arlington), Senate Bill 1097 passed the body by a 21-18 straight party-line vote, with all Republican members opposing the legislation.

Read More

Bill to Legalize Marijuana Clears First Hurdle in Virginia Senate

Legislation that would legalize the recreational use of marijuana in Virginia jumped another hurdle Friday when lawmakers advanced the bill through the Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee.

Senate Bill 1406, sponsored by Sen. Adam Ebbin, D-Alexandria, would legalize the recreational sale and use of marijuana for adults age 21 or older in the commonwealth. It narrowly advanced through the committee on an 8-7 vote with support from every Democrat and opposition from every Republican.

Read More

Virginia Senators Push Bill to Help Speed Up State Vaccination Effort

A bill to help Virginia speed up its mass vaccination effort by expanding who is allowed to inoculate citizens and where those injections can occur is being pushed by a bipartisan group of state Senators.

Flanked by various medical professionals, Senators Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax City), Todd Pillion (R-Washington), Jennifer Kiggans (R-Virginia Beach), George Barker (D-Fairfax) and Siobhan Dunnavant (R-Henrico) held a news conference to discuss Senate Bill 1445 in Richmond on Thursday.

Read More

Virginia Senate Strips Amanda Chase of Final Committee Assignment

The Virginia state Senate on Wednesday voted to update the body’s standing committees for 2021 and simultaneously stripped GOP gubernatorial candidate Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield) of her lone committee assignment from the previous year, resulting in a lengthy debate that highlighted the disconnect between the lawmaker and her colleagues.

The standing committee’s membership was updated at the request of Republicans in order to fill the vacancies left by the late Sen. Ben Chafin, who passed away from COVID-19 complications on New Year’s Day, according to Senate Majority Leader Richard Saslaw (D-Fairfax).

Read More

Legislation Abolishing Death Penalty Advanced by Virginia Senate Committee

Legislation to abolish the death penalty in the Commonwealth of Virginia was advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday morning.

Introduced by Sen. Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax), Senate Bill 1165 was reported out of the committee by a vote of 10-4, mostly along party lines with Sen. Bill Stanley (R-Franklin County), chief co-patron on the measure, the only Republican who voted in support.

Read More

Second Amendment Advocates Pour Into Virginia’s Capitol for Lobby Day 2021

Buses, a decommissioned ambulance, and lots of cars and trucks traveled through Richmond for hours on Monday afternoon as part of the Virginia Citizens Defense League’s (VCDL) Lobby Day 2021 demonstration. Most vehicles sported VCDL flags and decals; a few also waved Trump flags and other paraphernalia.

“When the first bus came, it just seemed like car after car after car, decked out, horns honking, people waving,” VCDL President Phil Van Cleave said. Car caravans came from all corners of the Commonwealth.

Read More

Commentary: Virginia Governor Flouts Law, Leaves GOP Senate Seat Vacant to Ensure Unchecked Progressive Dominance

Virginia’s state senate had a narrow Democratic majority, with 21 Democrats and 19 Republicans. Then, on Jan. 1, Republican State Senator Ben Chafin died. Virginia’s Democratic governor deliberately delayed filling the seat, so that progressive bills will be able to pass the state legislature more easily, and without being moderated by the amendment process.

Read More

Virginia Senate Convenes for General Assembly 2021 Regular Session

The Virginia General Assembly 2021 regular session began on Wednesday in Richmond with a relatively standard yet important first meeting of the Democratic-controlled state Senate.

Just as it was during last year’s special session, the Senate and its 39 members met in-person in a socially distanced space at the Science Museum of Virginia while the House of Delegates convened virtually.

Read More

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?

Read More

Bedford County Passes Resolution Opposing Repeal of Qualified Immunity

The Bedford County Board of Supervisors (BOS) unanimously passed a resolution repudiating efforts to repeal qualified immunity, a legal doctrine that provides extra protection to law enforcement officers from personal liability while on-duty unless they commit willful misconduct. An effort to repeal qualified immunity was defeated in the Virginia Senate during the recent special session.

Read More

House and Senate Name Legislators for Virginia Redistricting Commission

Party leaders from the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates have appointed the eight lawmakers that will serve on the newly-formed bipartisan redistricting commission tasked with redrawing the Commonwealth’s legislative and congressional lines.

The Senators on the commission will be Steve Newman (R-Bedford), Ryan McDougle (R-Hanover), George Barker (D-Fairfax County) and Mamie Locke (D-Hampton), Amigo Wade, acting director of the Virginia Division of Legislative Services, told The Virginia Star.

Read More

Upcoming General Assembly Session Will Have Legislation Limits

When the General Assembly starts its 2021 regular session in January, the volume of legislation will be much different from years past because of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to Senator Emmett Hanger (R-Augusta), both the Senate and the House of Delegates will impose limits on the amount of legislation members can introduce for the session.

Read More

Virginia Senate Gives Governor Power to Oust Police Officers

The Criminal Justice Services Board (CJSB) will have the responsibility of decertifying officers engaged in misconduct or criminally charged and implementing statewide conduct standards for law enforcement, if the Senate’s omnibus policing and reform legislation is signed into law.

Last Friday, the president of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Delegates both signed the legislation, and on Wednesday the bill was communicated to Governor Ralph Northam for final approval.

Read More

Senate Lawmakers Pass Conference Report for Criminal Justice Reform Legislation

During potentially the final day of the lengthy 2020 special session, Senate legislators adopted and passed the conference committee report on a bill that allows judges in certain criminal cases to issue the sentences instead of the jury. 

The conference report that was unanimously agreed upon by the six conferees, two Republicans and two Democrats, passed the Senate by an almost exact party line vote of (Y-22 N-16). 

Read More

Legislation Allowing Localities to Establish Law Enforcement Civilian Review Boards Heads to Governor’s Desk

Compromised legislation that gives localities the authority to establish law enforcement civilian review boards (CRB) successfully passed final votes in the Senate and House of Delegates Wednesday afternoon, and now goes to the governor’s desk for final approval.

Joint conference committee reports for Senate Bill 5035 passed the Senate (21-Y 17-N) and for House Bill 5055 passed the House (53-Y 35-N), mostly along the party lines of both chambers.

Read More

Senate and House Advance Budget Legislation to Conference Committee

Lawmakers in the Senate and House of Delegates advanced their biennial budget to a formal conference committee on Wednesday and assigned conferees to represent the bodies, but much of the work on compromising has already been conducted.

Before the two legislative bodies agreed to send the budget to a joint conference committee, however, the Senate first had to adopt a batch of seven committee amendments to the budget legislation. 

Read More

Senate Lawmakers Send Numerous Bills to Joint Conference Committees with House

The Senate sent a number of bills to be considered by joint conference committees, and appointed conferees to join their colleagues in the House of Delegates to consider legislation on Wednesday.

Three or four Senators and Delegates are assigned to different conference committees and must try to agree on compromised language for similar bills from each body or the legislation will die. If compromised versions are agreed upon, those bills will go back to the House and Senate for a final passage vote.

Read More

Virginia House and Senate Pass Another Bill to Further Decriminalize Marijuana

Virginia’s House and Senate passed another bill further decriminalizing marijuana. Under the bill, the drug’s scent would no longer be a sufficient cause for searching a vehicle.
The House passed the bill in a 51-45 vote. On Friday, the Senate approved to substitute some of the language of the bill.

Read More

Senate Passes $134B Budget Bill Allocating Funds for Local COVID-19 Relief, Criminal Justice and Policing Reforms and Law Enforcement Bonuses

The Senate passed its $134 billion budget on Friday with funding for criminal justice and police reforms, bonuses for law enforcement, coronavirus relief payments for local school divisions and language eviction and utility disconnect moratoriums. 

Senate Bill (SB) 5015 passed the Senate by a vote of (Y-24 N-15) with three Republican members voting alongside their Democratic colleagues on the prevailing side. 

Read More

SCC Denies Northam’s Request to Extend Utility Shutoff Moratorium

The Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) denied Governor Ralph Northam’s Thursday request to again extend a moratorium on utilities shutoffs until December. The moratorium will end October 5. The SCC had previously warned that they would not consider any further extensions.

Read More

Senate Dems Kick GOP Colleagues to the Curb

The Democratic-controlled Virginia Senate rejected almost all budget amendment proposals from Republican members during a lengthy session Thursday afternoon. 

As the Senate moves closer to a passage vote on its comprehensive budget, Thursday’s session made it clear that Senate Democrats are ultimately running the show. 

Read More

Gade Abandons Trump on Key Immigration Policy in First Debate U.S. Senate with Warner

Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) and Republican challenger Daniel Gade appeared virtually on NBC4 for their first debate. NBC News’ Chuck Todd moderated the debate from Washington, D.C. with a live Zoom audience.
Topics included the Supreme Court nominations, COVID-19, the digital divide, policing, racial justice, immigration, and the election.

Read More

Senator Dr. Siobhan Dunnavent Discusses Virginia’s Never Ending Special Session and the Unqualified Citizen Review Board

Wednesday morning on The John Fredericks Show, host Fredericks welcomed Virginia state Senator Dr. Siobhan Dunnavant to the program to discuss the civilian review board’s unqualified position to judge career police officers.

Read More

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.

Read More

The Virginia General Assembly Special Session Began Today, Here Is What Happened

The Senate and House of Delegates met separately in Richmond on Tuesday, officially kicking off the special session of the General Assembly.

Despite a bevy of bills and promises of swift action, the House and Senate primarily discussed operation and procedural resolutions for the Special Session going forward.

Read More