Bills starting to come in!
Bills starting to come in!
Virginia Progressive Legislative Alert Newsletter

The pre-filed bills are starting to show up in the Legislative Information System (LIS). The last few days have given a hint of the voting rights bills and criminal justice reform priorities we can expect to see this session.

Check out the interesting bills filed the last few days:

Legislative Update

Virginia Democrats look to prioritize voting rights
  • In addition to no excuse absentee voting, which was filed first thing (HB1, HB25, HB207, HB209, SB45, SB111, SB137), legislators have filed bills for automatic voter registration (HB235 from Cole-HD28, and HB219 from Lopez-HD49), same day voter registration (HB187 from Simon-HD53 and , and universal voting rights.
  • HB177 (Levine-HD45) and HB199 (Price-HD95) would enter Virginia into the National Popular Vote Compact, which would give all electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote, once enough states have joined to reach 270 electors. 
  • Democrats haven’t forgotten the two heartbreaking close losses in 2017, and introduce a bill–HB198 (Price-HD95) and HB178 (Levine-HD45) to resolve elections ending in a tie after recount by a special election; and a bill, HB191 (Cole-HD28) to ensure military absentee ballots arriving after polls close but that were postmarked before Election Day are counted.
Criminal justice reform coming to Virginia
  • Renaming and refocusing the Virginia Crime Commission to the Virginia State Justice Commission (HB92 from Hope-HD47 and SB108 from Surovell-SD36). Adds director of Indigent Defense Commission to members.
  • HB256 (Mullin-HD94) to prevent children from being charged with disorderly conduct for behavior on school grounds or the bus. 
  • End suspension of driver’s licenses for nonpayment of fines and fees, HB261 (Lopez-HD49).
  • Increase grand larceny threshold to $2000, HB263 (Lopez-HD49).
  • Decriminalization of simple marijuana possession (HB265 from Heretick-HD79, SB2 from Ebbin-SD30); and marijuana legalization, with regulation and taxation (HB269 from Heretick-HD79, and HB87 from Carter-HD50)
  • HB74 (Cole-HD28) to increase the minimum age at which a child can be tried as an adult for a felony to 16 from 14.
  • HB279 (Hope-HD47) to give juries the ability to recommend reduced sentences, concurrent sentences, mental health treatment or substance abuse treatment instead of part of sentence.

…and more bills to watch
  • Streaming all (sub)committee hearings: HB182 (Levine, HD45) would require all committee, subcommittee and floor sessions in House and Senate be streamed live and recorded.
  • Abortion dog whistle bill: HB227 from Freitas (HD30) states that a physician who attempts to terminate a pregnancy must exercise the same skill, care, and diligence to preserve the life and health of a human infant born alive following such attempt as he or she would render to any other child born alive at the same gestational age. Which they obviously already do, since infanticide is in fact illegal.
  • Big Brother Civics Education: HB223 from McNamara (HD8) would require the Dept of Ed. to develop recommendations for improving civics education, including “increasing students’ respect for the political history of the Commonwealth” and “mitigating the politically polarizing effects that the mainstream media can have on such students.” 
  • Enabling legislation to accompany Redistricting Amendment: SB203 and SB204 from Lucas (SD18), Locke (SD2), and Boysko (SD33) to add some specific details to the redistricting process spelled out in the Constitutional Amendment–language to restrict who may serve on the redistricting commission, anti-gerrymandering language, and commanding the Supreme Court to use a special master in the event redistricting falls to the court.

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.


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