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). 

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Gade: Democrats Will Destroy America as We Know It

At the 41st annual GOP Pig Roast U.S. Senate candidate Daniel Gade warned that American values are at risk if the Democrats gain power.

“The Left in the United States have decided that now is the time when they come after our values. And they’ve openly said what they’re going to do if, God forbid, they win the presidency and if, God forbid, they win and they take the Senate,” Gade said in his speech.

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Virginia House Passes $134B Budget with Rental and Utility Assistance, Justice and Police Reform Funding

The Virginia House of Delegates passed its two-year $134 billion budget on Tuesday with specific funding for rental and utility assistance, public education, internet access, affordable housing, criminal justice and police reform.

The revised budget from the House does not perfectly lineup with the proposed budget Governor Ralph Northam presented to the General Assembly at the beginning of the 2020 special session.

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Virginia House Passes Mental Health, Earned Sentence Credit Reforms

The Virginia House passed four more pieces of criminal justice reform legislation that will be sent to the Senate, including mandatory local mental health teams, more restrictions on police acquiring military surplus weapons and an expansion of the earned sentence credit program.

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Bill to End Mandatory Minimum Sentences Blocked by Virginia Senate Committee

Legislation that would have banned the enforcement of mandatory minimum sentencing in Virginia was killed in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday after some Democrats joined Republicans in their opposition.

Senate Bill 5046, sponsored by Sen. John Edwards, D-Roanoke, effectively would have ended all mandatory minimums in Virginia by halting their enforcement for offenses committed on or after Jan. 1, 2021. Although reforming mandatory minimum laws has bipartisan support, SB 5046 did not provide exemptions for violent crimes, such as murder or rape, which led to it ultimately failing.

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Police, Criminal Justice Reform Advocates Share Some Views Ahead of Legislative Special Session

Police officers and criminal justice reform advocates share some common ground going into Virginia’s special session to address policing reform, but the two groups break apart on some of the more controversial reforms.

“We are as repulsed by bad police officers … as anyone [else],” Wayne Huggins, executive director of the Virginia State Police Association, told Virginia House members Thursday during the last criminal justice reform hearing ahead of the special session, which convenes Aug. 18.

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