Legislation Prohibiting Firearms, Other Weapons on Capitol Grounds Passes Virginia Senate

Legislation prohibiting the possession and transportation of firearms and other weapons within Richmond’s Capitol Square as well as inside any buildings owned or leased by the state passed the Virginia Senate Tuesday afternoon.

The legislation, Senate Bill 1381, advanced out of the Senate by a 21-18 straight party-line vote with every Democrat in support and all Republicans opposing.

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Virginia State Senator Amanda Chase Files Lawsuit to Remove Censure

After the Senate of Virginia voted to censure Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield) last week, the lawmaker filed a lawsuit in federal court on Monday seeking to have the public rebuke expunged.

Chase filed the suit against the Senate, naming Clerk Susan Schaar as a defendant, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia over alleged violations of the First and 14th Amendments as well as the legislative body’s own rules.

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Bill Prohibiting Solitary Confinement Use in State Prisons, Juvenile Facilities Reports Out of Virginia Senate Committee

A bill in the state Senate that would prohibit prisons and juvenile facilities run by the Virginia Department of Corrections (DOC) from placing offenders in solitary confinement was reported out of the Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee on Friday.

Specifically, Senate Bill 1301 does not outright ban the use of solitary confinement – defined as 17 or more hours in a cell for juveniles and 20 or more hours for adult prisoners – but more so restricts the practice and implements safeguards against misuse

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Virginia Senate Committee Passes Censure Resolution on Amanda Chase

The Virginia Senate Committee on Privileges and Elections passed a resolution to censure Republican gubernatorial candidate Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield) on Tuesday regarding her conduct and comments on the January 6 Capitol riots in Washington D.C.

Introduced by Sen. John Bell (D-Loudon) and sponsored by nine other Democratic legislators, Senate Resolution 91 was reported out of the committee by a 9-6 vote straight down party lines and will now be considered on the floor in the coming days.

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Tim Anderson Sues Virginia Governor Over Senate District Special Election

Prominent Virginia Beach attorney and House of Delegates candidate Tim Anderson filed a lawsuit against Governor Ralph Northam (D) on Wednesday over the 38th Senatorial District special election set for later this year. 

The 38th District was previously occupied by the late Senator Ben Chafin, who died of COVID-19 complications at the beginning of the year, and on Tuesday Northam issued a March 23rd, 2021, date for the election to determine a replacement.

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Virginia Democratic Senators File Resolution to Censure Amanda Chase

Virginia Senate Democrats filed a resolution on Wednesday to censure GOP gubernatorial candidate and Senator Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield) for addressing a crowd and urging action to overturn the 2020 presidential election hours before the Capitol riots in Washington D.C.

The resolution, introduced by Sen. John Bell (D-Loudoun) and co-sponsored by nine other Senate Democrats, formally accuses Chase of “fomenting insurrection against the United States.”

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Senator Mark Obenshain Still Wants More Transparency from Virginia Parole Board

When the Virginia Senate convenes next month in Richmond for its 2021 regular session, Senator Mark Obenshain (R-Rockingham) will continue to push legislation that brings greater transparency and accountability to the state parole board.

With 14 days left until the session starts on January 13, Obenshain has already pre-filed two bills this month relating to the parole board.

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Virginia House Will Remain Virtual in 2021; Republicans Leaders Want to Keep Regular Session at 30 Days

Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax County) announced Monday that the Virginia House of Delegates would continue to meet virtually during the upcoming 2021 General Assembly regular session, just as they did during the special session, because of the current status of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the emailed statement, Filler-Corn’s decision was made after discussions with the Clerk of the House and officials from the Virginia Department of Health, which includes a letter from Virginia State Health Commissioner, Norman Oliver, strongly recommending the House hold sessions virtually “to the greatest extent possible.

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Republican Delegates Call for In-Person Meetings During January General Assembly Session

Two Republican state delegates released a joint statement on Tuesday calling for the Speaker of the House Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax) to work with members on finding a way to hold in-person meetings during January’s regular General Assembly session.

Delegates Christopher Head (R-Roanoke) and Joseph McNamara (R-Roanoke County) said in the statement they are preparing to be in Richmond for the start of the regular session.

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Senate Passes Majority of Gov. Northam’s Amendments, Concluding Lengthy Special Session

The Virginia Senate on Monday adopted a number of slight changes to legislation and the budget recommended by Governor Ralph Northam, including language for the implementation of the recently-approved redistricting commission.

Overall, including the budget, the Senate passed amendments for ten bills from the House and Senate. Most passage votes were primarily along party lines with a couple amendments garnering unanimous support.

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Senate Bill on Budget Includes Details on the Proposed Virginia Redistricting Commission

As part of the Senate’s bill for the biennial budget, one amendment offers details and more specifics on the proposed Virginia Redistricting Commission. 

Included in the budget amendment item 4-14 is eligibility criteria for citizen commission members, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and public participation in the redistricting process. 

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Virginia Senate Committee Advances a Bevy of House Bills to Floor

Democrats in the state Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee on Thursday advanced numerous House bills relating to policing and justice reform and COVID-19. 

All together the Committee considered 20 bills during the meeting and hastily reported 19 to be considered on the Senate Floor on Friday or sometime next week. 

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Virginia House: We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ History

The Virginia state Senate Committee on Local Government passed by for the day a House bill that would authorize localities to remove, relocate or alter memorials for war veterans, including the Civil War. 

Through a voice vote, House Bill (HB) 5030 was passed by for the day with the understanding that the committee chair will write a letter to the Department of Historic Resources and the Attorney General’s office for a better understanding on the memorials and of any potential legal ramifications from the bill. 

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Dangerous Police Reform Bills Keep Moving In VA House

The House Committee on Public Safety conformed multiple bills from the Senate relating to police reform on Monday as the 2020 special session enters its fifth week.

Legislation is conformed when there are two similar bills that have both come out of the House and Senate, and are being considered by committees of the other legislative body.

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Senate Committee Squashes Paid Quarantine Leave Bill

The Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor killed a bill on Wednesday that would have required employers to provide paid quarantine leave during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

House Bill 5116, sponsored by Del. Elizabeth Guzman (D-Prince William), was passed by indefinitely by a vote of 14-Y 1-N. 

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Senate Passes Bill to Establish Mental Health Response and Alert System

The Senate passed a bill Wednesday to establish a mental health awareness response and community understanding services alert system in areas throughout Virginia. 

The legislation was passed by the Democratic-controlled body by a vote (21-Y 15-N) along party lines with four Republican senators not at session. 

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Bill to Allow Law Enforcement Civilian Review Boards Passes Senate

The Senate on Tuesday passed legislation that allows localities to establish law enforcement civilian review boards with outlined oversight duties. 

Sponsored by Sen. Ghazala Hashmi (D-Chesterfield County), the bill passed by a vote of 20-Y 15-N along party lines of the present senators. 

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Virginia Senate Dems to House on Stripping Qualified Immunity: Not So Fast

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday voted to pass by indefinitely and create a joint House-Senate sub-Committee to further discuss a bill to end the qualified immunity defense for law enforcement. 

The motion to pass by indefinitely was agreed to by a vote of 12-Y 3-N with six Democratic Senators voting alongside their Republican peers on the prevailing side. 

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Senate Passes Omnibus Police Reform Legislation

The Senate passed its omnibus policing reform bill on Thursday, which encompasses other already introduced legislation and covers many hotbed issues relating to law enforcement. 

After over an hour of debate and Republicans voicing concerns, the Democratic majority passed the bill by a vote of 21-Y 19-N, right along party lines. 

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Senate Passes Two Parole Board Bills, Advances More Policing Reforms

The Senate on Wednesday passed two bills relating to the parole board and continued to advance more policing legislation. 

The first bill on the Virginia Parole Board, introduced by Sen. Mark Obenshain (R-Rockingham County), aims to provide the public with more transparency on the decisions made by requiring monthly reports on the inmates released and providing the felonies the prisoner was serving time for, among others.  

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Senate Advances Bipartisan Bill to Establish Commission on Civil Rights and Policing, Among Others

RICHMOND, Virginia – In the first fully in-person session of the week, the Senate advanced a bill that would establish a civil rights and policing commission on Wednesday.

The commission’s purpose is to review civil liberties, civil justice and policing in Virginia, and to make policy recommendations to the General Assembly.

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Despite Concern From Police, Virginia Legislators Cutting Funding, Protection For Law Enforcement Officers

As Virginia legislators push forward with criminal reform bills, police warn that reform will leave officers without enough tools and protections to do their jobs.

Last week, the Senate passed a bill that, if it becomes law, will end mandatory minimum felony sentences for those who assault police. Other measures being considered include bans on choke holds, elimination of no-knock warrants, and an end to qualified immunity.

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The Senate Continues to Pass New Legislation During the Special Session as Timing of Crossover with House Unclear

As the Senate wraps up its second week of the 2020 special session and continues to pass new legislation, the timing of crossover with the House of Delegates, a requirement for a bill to become law, remains unknown.

Since the Senate began considering bills in Committee and advancing legislation during sessions almost a week before the House, the two bodies are currently not in sync with their lawmaking procedures.

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Senate Advances Bill on Election Voting Provisions after Nearly Two Hours of Debate on Amendments

The Senate advanced House Bill (HB) 5120, sponsored by Sen. Howell (D-Fairfax County), to its third and final reading after spending more than half of the three hour session debating Thursday morning. 

The topic which garnered the most discussion during the session was not the bill itself, however, rather one of the multiple amendments within Howell’s legislation. 

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Senate Passes Bill Eliminating Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Assaulting Law Enforcement Officers, Others

The Senate passed a bill Wednesday that would eliminate the mandatory minimum sentence of six months jail time for assaulting a law enforcement officer or other public servants. 

The bill passed by a vote of 21-Y 15-N after over an hour of back and forth between Senators.

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Virginia General Assembly 2020 Special Session Day 3: House Remains Stalled, Senate Advances More Bills

While the House continued its quick, procedural sessions, the Senate and the Senate Judiciary Committee continued to advance bills centered around criminal justice reform and policing.

Before the Senate convened in-person in its new home for the 2020 special session at the Science Museum of Virginia, the Judiciary Committee held a meeting where it reported and referred more bills.

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