With only 30 days this odd-year session to get the work of the people done (after the VAGOP bucked the long-standing tradition of voting to extend), there are early morning committee meetings and late night ones too.
Check out the progress they’ve made on key legislation:
One of the most newsworthy issues the General Assembly is taking up this year is whether and how to legalize adult, personal-use marijuana, and create regulated marijuana markets.
The House has yet to begin discussing marijuana legalization, but the Senate spent more than 6 hours discussing the regulatory framework in the bill sponsored by Senators Ebbin (SD-3i0) and Lucas (SD-18) this week. Here are some important components:
Would allow adults >21 to purchase up to one ounce for personal use; or to cultivate at home up to 2 mature, and 2 immature plants for personal use.
21% tax on retail purchases, plus any additional local tax.
Regulation would be the responsibility of a new regulatory agency; initial legislation drafted by the Governor’s Administration called for it to fall under VA-ABC.
Social equity components include reduced-fee social equity licenses for those in communities impacted by marijuana policing and laws; part of revenues from marijuana taxation go into these communities as well.
Localities can opt-out of allowing marijuana retailing by voter referendum (initial draft required localities to opt-in by ordinance or referendum).
House working hard, getting things done
A bill (Aird-HD63) to require local government approval for law enforcement use of (known to be racially-biased) facial-recognition software passed unanimously.
Filed under “how can this be the law?” HB1912 (Hope-HD47) would stop allowing the Dept of Juvenile Justice to collect child support from parents for the costs of keeping their kids incarcerated. Reported this week from House Courts.
Last year a Republican Delegate filed the bill as an attempted “gotcha,” thinking Democrats wouldn’t want to take down a statue of a “Democratic” Byrd-machine leader and massive resistance founder Harry Byrd. But this year, Del. Jones (HD89) did it himself, and it reported from Rules this week.
HB1951 (Simon-HD53) to abolish the (common-law) crime of suicide reported from Courts committee to a floor vote next week.
HB1940 (Rasoul-HD11), which allows a student to be absent from school for a civic or political engagement day, passed the House this week.
HB2130 (Lopez-HD49) creating an LGBTQ+ Advisory Board to advise the Governor on how policy decisions in the Commonwealth affect the LGBTQ+ community, passed the House this week.
Senate may censure one of their GOP members
Following GOP Senator Chase’s constant repeating of lies online about the 2020 Presidential election, and speaking at the US Capitol riots, Senator Bell (SD13) filed a resolution to formally censure her. Friday, she was reported to be willing to apologize in exchange for him striking the resolution, but instead she lied about the media and apologized “if her passion for the constitution hurt” people.
The Senate is still having floor sessions in person at the Science Museum, but with a motion every day to suspend the rules to allow members who cannot attend in person due to COVID-19 concerns to appear remotely.
For the first time (ever?) the Senate Judiciary reported out a full repeal of the death penalty! (Surovell-SD36)
The full Senate passed SB1276 (McClellan-SD9) to allow health care providers on the Virginia exchange to provide abortion services.
SB1097 (Favola-SD31) would make by-mail absentee ballots valid without a witness signature, which was temporarily the law due to COVID-19.
SB1320 (Lucas-SD18), defining midwifery and establishes certified midwife licensing and regulation, reported out of Education and Health Committee to a floor vote next week.
Upcoming bills to watch this week
Marijuana legalization will continue to make its way through Senate committees and through the House. The Senate Judiciary will take up the expungement and criminal aspects of the bill next.
House (Mullin-HD93) and Senate (Edwards-SD21) bills to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences will be heard this week.
HB2282 (Sullivan-HD48) will be heard in House Labor & Commerce this week. It requires the SCC to report policy proposals for transportation electrification, and that utilities cannot recover costs of investing in electrification through rate adjustment clauses.
Senate (Saslaw-SD35) and House (Filler-Corn-HD41) bills to fund Governor Northam’s G3 (Get skilled, Get a job, Give back) program to provide assistance to low-income individuals in AA-degree programs, make their way through committees this week.
Virginia Voting Rights Act (Price-HD95) will be in full House Privileges and Elections Committee this week. It prohibits any changes to voting laws or voting qualifications that results in the denial of the right to vote for anyone based on race, color, or being in a language minority.
Look for HB2325 (Hope-HD47) to be in the House Public Safety Committee as early as this week. It would create an Office of the Department of Corrections Ombudsman to oversee prison policy, treatment of incarcerated individuals, and to provide a grievance and review system.
If any of the above bills are important to you, now is the time to contact your legislators and tell them how this bill affects you and your family. Contact information for Delegates and Senators can be found HERE; if you aren’t sure who represents you, put your address in HERE to find out.
Virginia Progressive Legislative Alert Network
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